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Miss Manners: Busted by the Internet

Fri., July 23, 2010

DEAR MISS MANNERS – I attended a large wedding with several hundred guests, followed by a reception at the church. Several friends had made cookies and there was coffee available.

Later, when viewing a social networking site, I saw mutual friends’ pictures, taken later in the day during a second, elaborate reception at another location.

Rationally, I realize that budgets are limited. I tried not to, but I still felt slighted.

In these days of Facebook and Twitter, it is hard (impossible?) for people to be discreet. Not just limited to weddings, I have friends who have had events for some of their friends and later had their friends who weren’t invited feel hurt, having seen photos and heard comments from those who were invited.

Is there anything that can be done to minimize hurt feelings in these situations?

GENTLE READER – It is easy to blame the Internet, but people have always talked, and sooner or later this division between first- and second-class guests would have been known. The way to avoid it is to avoid doing it.

Miss Manners does not consider budgeting an excuse. Whatever money was spent on the second reception could have been used for the first one.

Weddings are different from other parties, in that they are (one hopes) once-in-each-lifetime events, at which family and friends should be included.

While those who give and attend other events are not supposed to speak of them (let alone plaster them around the world) before those who did not, we should all realize that everyone cannot be invited to everything.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – What is the correct way to stand in an elevator? It seems rude to put your back to people, but also rude to face people with your back to the wall as if you are staring at them. What is your opinion?

GENTLE READER – That facing strangers in an elevator gives them the creeps. And that if you were to wait in line facing the person behind you, rather than the counter, that person would be freaked out.

Miss Manners’ point is that although not turning your back on people is a fine rule for occasions requiring human interaction, it does not apply to every situation.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – My husband owns a professional practice. Since we are new in town, I frequently meet a lot of people who are unfamiliar with us. When I’m introduced, or if someone asks why we moved to this city, I tell them it was because we purchased the practice.

Very often, I hear “Oh! I go to Dr. So and So.” It makes me uncomfortable and leaves me grasping for a response. Should I come up with a standard line or just change the subject?

GENTLE READER – You surely did not think the town was full of people in need of medical (or dental or psychiatric, or whatever your husband practices) who were quietly suffering until your husband came to town.

So Miss Manners trusts that you had no intention of trolling for patients. Rather you should be placing your husband as a member of the professional community. This is done by saying, “Yes. Dr. So and So, we were delighted to meet him (or we’re looking forward to meeting him).”

If you would like a copy of Miss Manners’ newsletters, “On Cellular Phone Courtesy,” “The Etiquette of Proper Eating” or “Proper Wedding Planning,” please send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 (per newsletter) to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wicliffe, OH 44092-0167. Please state which newsletter(s) you wish to receive.

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