A viral video has sparked discussion about proper etiquette. In the video, a woman claims that an older man “scolded” her for wearing a hat in the library.
TikTok user Sandy Woznicki (@happywoz) previously posted the video earlier this year. She recently reposted it and noted that it was her “most viral and controversial post of 2023.” The repost has gone viral, accumulating over 3.4 million views in just a few days.
In the video, Woznicki said, “I just got scolded by an older gentleman at the public library for wearing my hat. So he walked by me and he told me that it’s very disrespectful to wear my hat inside,” she said. “I asked him, what does being respectful mean to you?”
Woznicki and the man then had a conversation about the difference between obedience and respect, with Woznicki noting that “respect to me is to be kind and understanding of other people.”
She eventually ended the conversation by wishing the man a nice day.
Woznicki, a stress coach, told the Daily Dot that the point of the video isn’t whether it is proper etiquette to wear a hat indoors.
“The conversation may have started because of the hat, but our discussion was about respect and what does it mean,” she said in an email. “…Values like respect or success can be very nuanced when being defined as one’s personal values, as opposed to the dictionary definition.”
To Woznicki, the question about the hat can be seen as an allegory for different parenting styles.
“This is the perfect example of the difference between authoritarian parenting and conscious parenting,” she explained in the video. “Authoritarian parenting confuses respect and obedience, and to follow rules for the sake of following rules. And often those rules are based off of preferences, not logic. So I’m trying to teach my son question and challenge. That’s okay.”
In the caption, she added that she later confirmed with the librarians that it wasn’t against the rules to wear a hat inside the library.
“After recording this…the librarians confirmed that there’s no such social rule about hats in the library and people wear them all the time. (Remember, etiquette rules are regional, generational, and personal),” she wrote. “In fact, there was another older gentleman wearing a hat in the next room!”
While Woznicki was making a broader point about parenting, many people took to the comments to offer their thoughts on dress codes and the man’s actions.
“It’s not even respect he’s talking about.. it’s older generational etiquette,” said a user. “And if I’m not mistaken, the hat removal was ‘gentleman’ specific.”
“Ask why it’s disrespectful? If they can’t give a reason beyond that’s how it is, tell them to walk away,” added another.
@happywoz My most viral and controversial post of 2023 😂 Despite my somewhat snarky tone (hey, I’m only human) it was a genuinely respectful exchange between the two of us. . After recording this (in a study room outside the children’s section away from other patrons, btw!) the librarians confirmed that there's no such social rule about hats in the library and people wear them all the time. (Remember, etiquette rules are regional, generational, and personal.) In fact, there was another older gentleman wearing a hat in the next room! . The point of this video was to discuss what our values mean to us because they can be very difficult to define. This is an important part of the work that I do with my clients as a stress coach. They don't want to show up in their life being stressful and reactive so we do the work to figure out how they DO want to show up and that's about finding your own values and to defining them. . Though there is a dictionary definition of “respect” and other values like “compassion”, “kindness”, or “success” – they are also complex and how a person puts them into action can vary. . If you want to get to know, like and trust yourself so you can show up in your life and parenting as the best, most authentic version of yourself, I’m taking new clients in 2024 ❤️ . #consciousparenting #respectfulparenting #breakingcycles #millenialmom #millenialdad #dadsover40 #momsover40 #momsover50 #momsover30 ♬ original sound – Sandy Woznicki Stress Coach
Etiquette experts appear to be divided on whether women should remove their hats inside. Some say that a woman’s hat “hardly ever” needs to be removed if it is part of their outfit, while others contend that baseball cap-style hats like the one Woznicki wore in the video should always be removed indoors.
Regardless, many in the comments felt that the man’s decision to approach Woznicki was also a violation of common etiquette.
“I tell them I think it’s disrespectful to tell strangers what to do,” stated one.
“Elders THINK because they’re older (meaning more wise) that they DEMAND your respect while they can walk all over you,” declared a second.
Woznicki told the Daily Dot that she believes the video was controversial in part because people couldn’t agree about whether it’s acceptable to wear hats indoors, and in part because some people took her response as rude, while others thought she was kind and respectful. She said that the man did not seem to take offense in the slightest.
“The conversation was very polite, and the gentleman seem to enjoy our engagement,” she said. “He even tipped his own hat to me with a smile as he walked to his car in the parking lot.”
“The purpose of this post was to spark curiosity around how would you personally define what respect means to you? And to do that, we need to be open-minded and get curious,” Woznicki added.