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Pop Culture

17 'unwritten rules' people live by to make the world a better place

Golden rules of kindness, compassion, and good ol' common sense.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Kindness is simple. But in our complicated world, it’s easy to forget. That’s why we have catchy little words of wisdom, like “do unto others” or “be the change you’d like to see in the world,” to help us remember the power of connecting to our hearts and each other.

These proverbs might resonate differently, depending on an individual’s values, but ultimately they all say the same thing: choose to be a good person. And honestly, whatever rhyme gets us there is a good one.

Recently, user MeringueOne7397 asked the Reddit community: “What is an unwritten rule that you always follow?” and the responses are a brilliant example of this concept. While some answers are perhaps a bit more poetic, others are completely mundane. But they all point towards a path that includes compassion.

Check out 17 of the best ones, and see if you might want to incorporate a few yourself.

1. “If you make the mess, you clean it up.”

2. “Let people off the train before you get on.”

3. “Be hesitant to take criticism from people you wouldn't go to for advice.”

4. “Never answer a ‘stupid’ question like it's a stupid question. There's a reason the person didn't know, didn't get it or misunderstood. Not knowing information is not stupid.”

5. “When walking down the sidewalk, phone is in my pocket. If I need to look at it -- move aside then take out the phone.”

phone etiquitte

"When walking down the sidewalk, phone is in my pocket."

Photo credit: Canva

6. “Always be polite. I don't care what I'm doing or what kind of a day I've had. I always make sure to say 'hey how are you?' And 'thank you, have a nice day' whenever I talk to people like shop assistants. Politeness is so underrated in general.”

7. “Don't cheat. Let vehicles merge. Be kind.”

8. “Always be nice to everyone you can, you never know when you will need help from someone.”

9. “If someone has headphones in, don't try to talk to them.”


"If someone has headphones on, don't try to talk to them."

Photo credit: Canva

10. “Assume someone is just venting, and offer comfort and listening unless they specifically ask for advice. ask if they want advice if you have any to give.unsolicited advice can often come off the wrong way.”

11. “When driving, wave when someone lets you over.”

12. “You don't call people after 9:00 Unless they specifically said that you could or it is an emergency.”

13. “Waving to the person behind who let you into traffic…I will not quit doing it. Basic good manners.”

driving etiquette, driving skills, driving manners

"Waving to the person behind who let you into traffic…I will not quite doing it."

Photo credit: Canva

14. “Never blindly accept statements as true, even if they are from people you trust. Not because they are lying to you, but oftentimes people just make mistakes or are bad communicators.”“

15. Don't make fun of things people can't control i.e. their teeth, their laugh, etc. You could be giving someone a lifelong complex and insecurity that can have untold emotional damage.”

16. “Treat others as I want to be treated. Assume benign intent (until proved otherwise).”

…and last but certainly not least…

17. “Put your damn cart in the collection area after grocery shopping.”

grocery cart theory

"Put your damn cart in the collection area."

Photo credit: Canva

Pop Culture

Adults who lived through the 80s share what pop culture gets wrong about the time period

"Pop culture acts like the '80s were just a sea of nothing but neon for 10 years."

Representative Image from Canva

Okay, but everyone DID have big hair. Right?

Judging by Gen Z’s Y2K-inspired fashion trends, you’d think the 2000s were nothing but people walking around the mall in pleated miniskirts and bucket hats. We can mostly chalk this up to the depiction of the era in movies like “Clueless” and “13 Going on 30.” Anyone born before the 90s can tell you that life was definitely not like that. But hey, sometimes fantasy is more fun.

Same goes for other time periods as well. For those of us without a degree in history, much of how we picture other eras is influenced by pop culture. Like how we think of Victorian women being obsessed with waist cinching thanks to almost every Hollywood movie showing a woman getting bound by an excruciating tight corset. Yep, that was previously debunked.

And sure, some movies and TV series, like “Mad Men” or “Schindler’s List,” make painstaking efforts to achieve historical accuracy. But often, they are works of fiction, and creative liberties are taken. And those liberties create the world for those who did not live in it.

That can even be said of the 80s, rife with Cold War threats and colorful leggings. Or…was it?

Recently, user Jerswar asked Reddit: "People who were adults in the 1980s: What does pop culture tend to leave out?"

Here are the raddest, gnarliest, most tubular response people gave.

1."The insane amounts of smoking inside. Especially in restaurants."

"When I worked in a restaurant, the smokers (backroom dishwashers/cooks) got more chances to sit around and take breaks to smoke. Then, when I got an office job, people had ashtrays at their desks. Often, the ashtrays were hand-made by a young relative in an elementary school class."

2." Anything we wore that wasn't neon. Pop culture acts like the '80s were just a sea of nothing but neon for 10 years."


“And as if every girl and woman was dressed up in tulle tutus with off-the-shoulder lace shirts and a giant bow tied atop our heads.Not all of us were lucky enough to have our parents buy us new outfits like that. My wardrobe was full of old hand-me-downs. No neon, lace or tulle in the bunch."

"I graduated high school in 1984, and never dressed like Madonna or wore neon anything. We were poor, so it was crappy jeans that never got soft and T-shirts until I got a job. Even after that, I wore cords and overalls and sweaters from Chess King."

3. "How much decor from the '70s and '60s were still in houses and offices throughout the decade."

"This is something that I thought 'Stranger Things' REALLY got right. All the kids' houses look like they were built and decorated in the 1960s–'70s, which is how it really was. Nobody was living in fancy candy-colored Memphis-style apartments except California yuppies."

4. "I was born in the early '80s. I've been totally blind since birth. In the '80s, accessibility was virtually non-existent.That new Nintendo that the kids had? Good luck. Scholastic Book Club? Not in braille or audio. Everything is in print. Nothing to see here for me or mine. Then computers finally got accessible and Windows came out and they had to start all over again. I wouldn't want to go back to the '80s. I now have my phone that I can use to access the world, read what is on my grocery labels, have pictures described to me, and basically know what's going on in the world. In the '80s, so much went by without any context, and that was in the formative years of my childhood."

nintendo, 80s nintendo, braille

We've come a long way when it comes to accessibility.

Representative Image from Canva

5. "Reading everything — literally everything — I could get my hands on. Cereal boxes, newspapers, magazines. Luckily, my library was a bike ride away but carrying those back on my bike was fun."

"OMG, you are so right. That reminds me of things I hadn't thought about in ages.I used to feel so very bored that I'd read anything that had text on it, from cans of food to cereal boxes to whatever books (however insipid) I could lay my hands on. Even the obituary notices in the newspaper were worth a read. The internet really did away with the boredom, didn't it?!"

Speaking of reading…

6. "Trying to find something to read in the bathroom to pass the time. I remember shampoo bottles and the contents of my wallet were my go-to's when a magazine or book was unavailable." "Yes! Shampoo bottles for desperate moments of boredom."

7. "Might be my own bias but being a kid in the '80s there was a lot of casual bullying and conformism. Not that bullying and conformism ever went away, but the '90s was more about counter-culture a bit."

8. "I was a child in the '80s, but something that I don't think I've ever seen in modern pop culture retellings of '80s life, which I recall witnessing, is this: people think of the weird, wacky, fun colors and hair, etc., of the 1980s — like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Boy George styles. BUT for many people and mainstream communities, that was considered a 'weird' or 'rock and roll character' kind of presentation. People would often openly stare, laugh at, or disparage people who looked openly unique. It took a lot of courage to go out styled like that. It was acceptable to have a more 'subtle' take on the fun color trends."


"I believe the best real-time representation/evidence of this is in Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time' music video, there’s a scene where she sits down in a diner with her boyfriend and his friends. She pulls off her cap to reveal her new hairstyle - half-shaved and dyed bright colors. Her boyfriend's friends start hysterically laughing, the boyfriend is quietly embarrassed, and she runs out of the diner in tears."

9. "TV was just adult shows for most of the week, especially during summer break. Just soap operas and other boring things." "Staying home sick from school and all there was to watch were game shows and soap operas until the Gilligan's Island reruns came on."

10. "The sheer sense of doom and pervasive low-key terror of nuclear war. The Soviets' nuclear arsenal pointing at us, and their nihilistic posturing in some ways remind me of the climate change dread we now have. Living with an existential threat is not something new."

"This is so completely underestimated or misunderstood. All through high school, I was convinced that the world would just end one day, and I'd have to figure out how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world afterwards. Yeah, we thought that people would survive an all-out nuclear war."

11. "The homophobia."

"It was casual, rampant, and virtually unquestioned. If you were gay or lesbian, and not living in a major city like New York or San Francisco, you were probably in the closet, at least to everyone but some close friends and (maybe) family. If you were trans, forget about it. Enjoy your life of dysphoria and misery. You don't really see that depicted so much in pop culture now."

"AIDS and '80s homophobia went hand in hand, and it's hard to overstate how much AIDS destroyed the gay community and how the dominant culture thought that was a good thing."

12. "Being a latchkey kid it was no frequent communication with your parents. I can't tell you how many times I stayed out all night as an 18-year-old and no one but who I was with knew where I was or what I was doing. My parents didn't know what I was doing all day as a 12–17-year-old, either! You only called your parents at work only if it was an emergency."

"Yes. It's almost like a 'parents didn't care' attitude that would be ascribed to that behavior now (but that wasn't right). Ma needed to work and that she didn't get home until 7 p.m. was just a reality. Oftentimes, she was gone when I got up and we had zero communication until she got home. I was just responsible for the whole shpiel of keeping myself alive."

13.The obsession people/media had about the '50s and '60s.”


“Part of it was stuff like 'Back to the Future,' '50s-themed diners and baseball jackets being popular, then there was the 20th anniversary of things, like various Beatles albums. I think the boomers at that point were in positions of influence and were looking back on their teens and twenties with rose-tinted glasses, so the rest of us had to suffer these cultural echoes from the generation before."

14."Cruising. Before social media, we would drive up and down the street, see and be seen. Stop at different businesses, the cool kids hung out at the Walgreens parking lot, the jocks at the McDonald's. But it was a small town so we would stop at all of them during the evening. That was our social world along with keggers in the desert all through high school and for folks that stayed in town for years after high school.

"It was like a social network but with your car."

And lastly…

15. "What a mess it was to get cleaned up!”


“That sparkle-blue eye shadow didn't come off easily and if it got in your eyes it was torture! That red lip gloss ran all over. And shampooing your hair three times to get out all the hairspray and the mousse. I loved the '80s and I had a marvelous time. But it was messy... but way worth it!"

The Hindenburg disaster, a slice of pizza and a squirrel.

How is it that some people seem to know a lot of random facts and are great at trivia, while others can’t get a question right while watching “Jeopardy!”? A big reason is curiosity. People interested in many different subjects have a more significant knowledge base than those who do not.

Further, when people are genuinely interested in a subject, they retain knowledge much better than if they heard the information in passing. So, while two students may learn the same thing in class, the genuinely interested one will remember the information, while the other will quickly forget it.

Studies show that curiosity is one of the most significant predictors of having a high IQ.

A Redditor named TechSavvy_Ryan asked the curious folks on the platform to share the facts that “most people don’t know.” The post went viral, inspiring over 8,000 responses in just two days. So, we cobbled together a list of the 15 most intriguing facts so you can wow people at your next trivia night or cocktail party.

Here are 15 facts that “most people don’t know."

1. Hindenburg survivors

"Most the people involved in the Hindenburg disaster lived." — CaligulaMonkey

"It was said 62 of the 97 people survived. You can see them running away in the nick of time as they touched the ground." — Rook2Pawn

2. Freaky fish

"Irukandji jellyfish grow only to about 1 cubic cm in size, but have an incredibly painful sting. One symptom of the sting is a strong impending sense of doom. Victims have begged their doctor to be killed as they were certain they would die anyways." — NikkiRex

3. Dangerous laughter

"You can collapse your lungs from laughing." — ContentTask2032

"So you can technically die from laughing?" -PaptaLopikju-

4. Dark side of cruises

"The amount of murder, rape and suicide that happens on cruise ships. Most of them unresolved, too." — PeacefulKillah

"Most newer cruise ships also operate an onboard morgue, as they are now considered cheaper options to retirement homes. Last time I was on a cruise, a crew member let slip that there were 2 deaths from natural causes." — Kegman83

5. Happy birthday

"A company called Warner Chappell Music collected licensing fees for use of the song 'Happy Birthday to You' all the way until 2015. That’s why characters in movies often sing other songs like 'For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”'and restaurant chains often have their own birthday songs they sing to customers." — ItsMeCourtney

6. Burial facts

"A burial plot is called a graveyard if it's part of a church lot. It's called a cemetery if separate." — Missusmidas

"The backyard is only a graveyard if they can find the body." — Diels_Alder

7. Spanish Africa

"The only Spanish-speaking country in Africa is Equatorial Guinea. Its capital, Malabo, is on an island slightly northwest of the country’s mainland." — Dre_Lake

8. A case of bad nerves

"If your nerve is broken in the wrong way, the nerve will send a pain signal to the brain and it won't stop." — RhiannonCrystalLady

9. Pizza truth

"An 18-inch pizza is more than two 12-inch pizzas. To do the math, the surface area of a circle is pi x r squared. Pi is the constant. 18 in pizza has a 9 in radius, or r. 12 inch has 6. 9 squared is 81, 6 squared is 36. 36 x 2 is 72. 81 is greater than 72." — Who_Else_But_Macho

"Not only that but if you assume that each pizza has a 1" wide crust all the way around, the 18-inch pizza is 79% toppings and 21% crust, while the two 12-inch pizzas are only 70% toppings and 30% crust. So not only do you get MORE pizza, you get a more efficient pizza with a greater toppings-to-crust ratio." — Tajwriggly

10. Declare your pacemaker

"When a body is to be cremated, the funeral director will first ensure that any rubber sole shoes, watches, phones, glasses, and sealed glass/metal containers are removed. Any sealed container becomes a pressure vessel when exposed to temperatures exceeding 1000°c. These will explode and do significant damage to the crematorium. This is the same reason why any electrical devices or items with batteries are removed, including most watches, and also pacemakers. When an undertaker asks whether your loved on had any medical implants or pacemakers, this is the reason why.
Glasses often tend to leave a silica residue on the bottom of the cremator which is just awkward to clean up and can build over time. Rubber soles are just incredibly polluting and are often not caught by the many filtration systems. This usually results in a black plume of smoke coming from the chimneys. Also, all metal residues and materials which are collected after the cremation is completed are gathered up and can either be returned to the family (upon request) or else treated and recycled, with proceeds from the recycling going towards a worthy charity."
— Flaky_Tumbleweed

11. Scuba or S.C.U.B.A.?

"Scuba is an acronym, standing for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus." — JackCooper_7274

12. Squirrel speed

"Squirrels run faster up trees than on flat surfaces." — sstebbinss

13. Battleships

"Battleships in museums/ on display that are WW2 and later cannot start their engines because they have preservative grease inside in case the Navy has to bring the ship back into service." — Stravata

14. Sharkgevity

"Sharks predate trees." — External_Crazy_6568

"Well duh, they're predators." — Flowcahrt83

15. Code-shifting cells

"Your immune system has at least 1 cell to combat every single infection that could ever exist. Your T-cells are cells that, when created, go through a sort of training phase in the thymus where they are allowed to change their genetic code at random, in order to be able to battle 1 random very specific disease. During this, the body also kills any T-cells that are accidentally adapted to kill human cells. Then the T-cells are sent to lymph nodes, to be found later by presenting an antigen (a part of a pathogen) to it. Basically, you have something for everything in your body, the problem is just finding it, as it takes a good few days for your body to locate the specific one." — Chipperland4471

via Pexels

Three people engaged in conversation at a party.

There are some people who live under the illusion that everything they say is deeply interesting and have no problem wasting your time by rambling on and on without a sign of stopping. They’re the relative, neighbor or co-worker who can’t take a hint that the conversation is over.

Of all these people, the co-worker who can’t stop talking may be the most challenging because you see them every day in a professional setting that requires politeness.

There are many reasons that some people talk excessively. Therapist F. Diane Barth writes in Psychology Today that some people talk excessively because they don’t have the ability to process complex auditory signals, so they ramble on without recognizing the subtle cues others are sending.

It may also be a case of someone who thinks they’re the most interesting person in the conversation.

For others, it’s a symptom of a disorder. Michelle C. Brooten-Brooks, a licensed marriage and family therapist, writes that excessive talking can also be a symptom of, among other things, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or anxiety.

“Anxiety can cause someone to speak excessively,” Brooten-Brooks writes at Very Well Health. “While many with social anxiety may avoid social interactions, some may inadvertently talk excessively when in social situations out of nervousness and anxiety.”

So what do we do when we're stuck in a situation where someone just keeps talking? A Reddit user by the name of Spritti33 asked for some advice about how to “politely end a conversation with a person who won't stop talking” and received some very practical and funny responses from members of the online forum.

A lot of folks pointed out that it’s not impolite to walk away from a person who is incessantly talking because they are being rude by disrespecting your time. Others shared how, in some cultures, there are ways of shutting down a conversation while allowing both parties to save face.

Here are 19 of the best responses to Spritti33's question, “How does someone politely end a conversation with a person who won't stop talking?”


"In Flanders we have a word for it, 'bon,' and then you say something 'I have work to do,' 'It's time to go home,' 'It's time to get drinks.' And people realize the other person wants to leave without being mean," — ISuckAtRacingGames


"In Ireland we do like a little clap/slap our thigh/clap the person's shoulder and say 'Right! Shur look, I'll let you go...' as if we're being polite and letting the other person off the hook, but actually, it's like get me the fuck out of here haha!" —funky_mugs


"If they keep talking over polite cues, I have found there really isn’t a polite way to exit the conversation," — Binder_Grinder


"This is so true. People that do this don't care whether you're into the conversation or not, they're talking simply because they want to. I've gotten better at just interjecting (even mid-sentence if I've already tried everything else) with, 'I'm sorry, I have to go. (start walking away at this point) It was nice talking to you.' Don't give any excuses or reasons for leaving, just do it otherwise they'll try to talk about your reasons." — PSSaalamader


"As a teacher, I have learned how to interrupt people who do not leave any pauses when they’re speaking: start nodding and verbally agreeing with them, 'Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh…' You can’t interrupt these people, but you can start agreeing while they speak, then raise your voice and say, 'Yeah, wow, excuse me but I must go,'"
— Janicegirlbomb2


"Remember that it is them who is being impolite by talking incessantly about things of no interest to their audience," — Orp4mmws99


"Source: am a therapist. What you do is recap their last story and in the same breath add a goodbye.

I.e. 'Sounds like you guys found a bunch of great deals at the mall, that’s awesome! Thanks for meeting with me, you’ll have to tell me more next time we run into each other. It was great to catch up!'" — pikcles-for-fingers


"Just start coughing these days it'll clear a whole room in seconds," — Sinisterpigeon


"People who are like this expect folks to just walk away from them while they are talking because that’s the only way the conversation ends. It’s not rude to them, it’s normal. So, it’s entirely okay to say, 'all right this has been great, see you later,' and then just walk away smiling," — Underlord_Fox


"If you can practice this, start to train one of your eyeballs to slowly drift off whilst the other eye remains locked on theirs. That should do the trick," — The-Zesty-Man


"At 62, I just walk away. My bullshit filter has disappeared," -- Negative_Increase


"You gotta realize that everyone else they talk to just walks away. They’re used to that. They think a conversation is you just talk at someone til they walk away. It’s not weird to them," — DelsmagicFishies


"I don't know why some people are so afraid of this. It is not rude. You don’t need to lie. 'We can speak more other time. Goodbye,' is fine," — Kooky-Housing3049


"On a more serious note, I typically do an 'oh shit' type of face like I've just remembered I had something important scheduled. I say 'Sorry, what time is it? check the time Ah crap, I hate to cut you off but if I don't head out now I'm going to be late for ____.' Then I scurry away like I'm really in a rush. If you're in a situation where you can't straight up leave, I swap 'gotta head out' for 'I told someone I'd call them at [time] and they're waiting on my call' and then make a fake phone call," — teethfairie


"'Wow, you have a lot of opinions about this subject...' and then never stop angling the conversation back to how weird it is that they're still talking," — Ordsmed


"Had a friend who would put his hand gently on your shoulder and kindly say, 'I love you , but I just don't care, good (night/day),'" -- Think-Passage-5522


"While not exactly polite, my Aunt Sophie had a great way of ending a conversation. When the monologue got too much she would nod her head like she was listening and then at the slightest pause she would go, 'The end.' And walk away.

She mostly did it with kids who didn’t realize they were yabbering on about Thundercats too long. (It was me, I was yabbering on about Thundercats too long.)" — theslackjaw727


​"Change your stance, instead of facing them head on turn 90° your body language will end the conversation quickly without being rude," — Zedd2087


"Where possible, I've always found it best to tell these people up front that you have somewhere to be 15, 30, 45, etc minutes from now. If that's not realistic, I've found that if you can usually find a gap to say you need to run if you focus on doing only this for 3-5 minutes," — Pretend_Airline2811

This article originally appeared on 06.22.22