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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 7/21

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been married almost 20 years to a wonderful man with a large and close-knit family. They’re nice people, but they tend to run with misinformation, and they enjoy having political “discussions” among themselves.

It’s not my cup of tea. What’s more, they’ve begun engaging in these debates over a group text in which all family members are included. This has been going on for about six years now.

I keep my phone on silent because notifications drive me bonkers. I have turned them off on all apps I can. But I can’t turn off all text notifications because other people need to reach me that way.

How can I politely disengage myself and indicate that I do not wish to be included? While I can silence my phone, alerts still make it to my watch, and the constant buzzing of new notifications for messages I really don’t want to see sets my teeth on edge. I’ve tried muting the group chat, but am not able to do so. I’m out of ideas short of asking my husband to tell them to stop including me.

They’re lovely people and I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Can you offer any suggestions?

GENTLE READER: It would surprise Miss Manners if technology had not solved your specific problem before she even opened your letter. But as it undoubtedly went on to create a new, but similar, problem while she was reading the letter, an etiquette solution is necessary.

It is rude to demand another person’s immediate attention, absent very specific conditions, many of which involve bodily harm. But calling the perpetrator rude is not the answer.

Miss Manners mentions it to build up your courage for the real solution: Politely tell your relatives to remove you from the list, as this is just not your cup of tea. If they ignore such requests, then ask your husband to intervene – they are, you may remind him with a warning tone, his side of the family.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a neighbor across the hall who has some issues, but is a sweet lady. I am trying to figure out what this condition is called so I can be as helpful as possible.

She always attaches a price to everything: “I spent $50 on these pizzas and wings; this plate cost $15; I used $5 of gas to come to you; I donated $35 worth of food to the food pantry.”

We have always chipped in without prompting, so these statements are not to get us to pay for our fair share of something. It is obvious she has an issue with money, but we are unsure of what attaching a dollar amount to every facet of life means to her.

GENTLE READER: It used to be called materialism, but Miss Manners recognizes that the condition is so contagious as to no longer be distinguishing. Fortunately, if the information has no value to this lady, then there is no reason for you to take any notice, either.

Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website

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