DEAR MISS MANNERS: All I see on social media lately are photos of awesomeness: beautiful meals, precocious kids, exciting outdoorsy vacations with ecstatic partners. It depresses me. Though I’m very fortunate in a lot of ways, I’m lonely. I live alone and haven’t socialized in person since March. Many more people, of course, are in much more dire situations than I am. So showing off strikes me as insensitive.
Yes, I know I should get off social media, but I get neighborhood news that way, plus I want to know if anyone I care about needs help or someone to talk to – that’s happened a few times during the pandemic.
I think it’s tacky to post nonstop photos of perfect-adorable-awesomeness during a pandemic. Do you agree, or do you think I’m just bitter and jealous?
GENTLE READER: When you were a tad, did your parents explain to you that advertisements should not be taken as literal truth? And have you not discovered that much of what people post are advertisements for themselves?
But suppose it is all true, and many people are thriving in these times – leading glorious lives despite the pandemic. Do you really wish your friends ill instead?
Miss Manners has never understood why misery should want company. Surely misery should prefer a bit of cheer to lighten its gloom?
In any case, it will never lighten if you keep comparing yourself to others, because you can always find someone who is richer, better looking, smarter, or eating better meals. Please stop thinking of it as a contest.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: This year has been a time of exceptional hardship for many families across the globe. However, 2020 has been a great year for me. After years of being a single parent, I’ve met an incredible partner. We recently bought a home and are blending our families.
How does one tactfully share good news while being mindful about the hardships that others are facing this year? I don’t want to come across as insensitive.
GENTLE READER: The same way that you should be announcing this under normal circumstances: without crowing, and certainly without making comparisons.
Miss Manners advises something more like, “Garth and I have bought a house, where we will be moving with the children,” than “Wow, we’re so lucky! In these terrible times, we found a wonderful house and are starting our new family life together.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I wrote my grandmother a letter, but wasn’t sure how to address it. I have always called her “Gigi,” and started the letter as such, but I wasn’t sure what to put on the envelope. I ended up just writing her full name out, but it seems wrong.
Should I do “Mrs. Full Name”? For reference, my grandfather died last year and their letters usually had a return address of “Mr. & Mrs. Grandfather’s Name.”
GENTLE READER: That you wrote your grandmother an actual letter, instead of texting her, shows that you are sensitive to varying conventions and expectations.
So while your grandmother doubtlessly treasured your letter, Miss Manners is glad you asked. Honorifics should be used on envelopes, and widowhood does not change the lady’s form of address. If your grandmother had previously been addressed as “Ms. Hilda Newberry,” that would still be right. But as she used “Mrs. Orville Newberry,” that is still the way to address her.
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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