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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Texts are no substitute for conversation

Judith Martin And Nicholas Ivor Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Nowadays when I call someone, the voice mail message often instructs me to “hang up and text me.” This is said in a surprised, aggravated tone, as if I were violating an established rule known to everyone else.

Is this really the etiquette now? People would rather read badly typed, semi-coherent message fragments than have an actual conversation?

I think texting is fine for quick little messages and reminders, but I cannot imagine conducting the equivalent of a normal phone conversation by text. I know people are busy and don’t always have time to chat on the phone, but I cannot help thinking that this new directive is rude.

GENTLE READER: It is true that one need not make oneself available to all forms of communication. Miss Manners chooses not to get her feet wet at the beach retrieving discarded bottles on the off-chance that they may contain correspondence.

But once you have activated a voice mailbox, it is only polite to check it. Recognizing that one does not always have a choice in such matters, Miss Manners will allow for a gracious message to the effect that this box is not checked frequently, so that if your matter is urgent, you may prefer to use an alternate form of communication.

Meanwhile, send an email – not a text, because you needn’t follow rude instructions – saying you would like to talk to that person sometime.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: At family Christmas gatherings at my brother’s house, his wife has an annoying habit of announcing what will be served to the guests, much like a waitress reciting the daily specials at a restaurant. She claims this is “dinner party” etiquette.

GENTLE READER: Not exactly, but it is not improper to do something that will strike you as even more restaurant-like: provide a menu.

Not, Miss Manners hastens to add, a list to be passed out with choices. The proper way to do this is to put little handwritten cards at intervals along the table so that the diners know what is to be served and can pace themselves.

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