Miss Manners: I dislike people handing me their phone to look at photos



Dear Miss Manners: Among the many changes that technology has introduced into our lives is the abundance of photographs that many of us carry on our mobile telephones. I find that this innovation, while quite wonderful in many ways, can complicate conversations.

In an earlier time, if an acquaintance’s children or grandchildren were mentioned, they might take a wallet out and produce a photograph to be remarked upon. In current circumstances, that same person is likely to show a picture or two on a telephone, then hand over the instrument, indicating that the recipient can scroll through a vast archive of related photographs.

When this happens to me, the people seem to glow proudly and expect a continuous stream of comments.

Might there be a graceful way to extricate oneself from entrapment of this sort? Perhaps I should mention that I will soon be attending a high school reunion.

“Oh, thank you, I would love to look, but I had better go wash my hands before I handle your phone.” And then Miss Manners recommends that you do not get yourself trapped outside the bathroom.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a friend who cannot issue a casual invitation (“Want to go furniture shopping with me?”) without first asking what my plans are for the day. If I have nothing firm on my agenda, like a doctor’s appointment, she then extends her invitation.

I feel stripped of any polite way of declining. There have been times I have agreed to something based on a certain time frame, only to have the outing start an hour later. Other friends will text me an invitation (“Lunch?”) that I can accept or decline. How do I dodge the bullet?

“I have some work to do and a few errands to run. Why? What did you have in mind?”

That way, if the invitation turns out to be more time-consuming than you can muster — Miss Manners envisions a house move or five-hour cruise — you may politely decline. And as for changing time frames, your errands can certainly become suddenly more pressing.

Dear Miss Manners: My three children have recently had birthdays. They are all young adults. The two boys received a card from my mother, but yesterday, my daughter received a card with money in it.

I feel certain that my mother just forgot to put a monetary gift in her grandsons’ cards. Should I say something to her? I know she will feel bad when I do, which I don’t want.

Consider that giving the money was the accident, not forgetting it.

Miss Manners suggests, “I think you accidentally slipped a twenty into Jojo’s birthday card. Remind me to give it back to you when I see you.” At which point your mother will likely realize her mistake and correct it in the next batch of cards. Or not — and happily snatch back her twenty.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.