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Miss Manners, Judith Martin, Published April 14 2012

Miss Manners: Facebook postings often tell us what we needn’t know

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I was a child, I was taught that it was in poor taste to talk about private parties and other invitation-only events in a group when not everyone was invited.

I find that this is not true anymore. I have a very loud acquaintance who wishes for everyone to know what she is up to. And I enjoy Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and relatives from far away. But when my local friends post public thank-yous on their FB walls to folks who gave parties I was not even invited to, I feel a bit slighted. These are local friends who requested to add me to their list of friends – intimating that they wanted to keep in touch with me.

Is this the new norm? Should I ignore these posts? Should I join in the fray? Should I make judicious cuts to my list of Facebook friends? In short, in this time of Internet manners, what’s a properly brought-up lady to do?

GENTLE READER: It is still in poor taste. But perhaps you have noticed that there is quite a lot of poor taste material on the Internet, which people post about themselves and others.

They have become their own paparazzi. Everybody can know what just about everyone else is doing pretty much all the time. Among other things one doesn’t need to know, this reveals the fact that everyone is not invited to everything.

A proper lady does not accept a new “norm” that is basically inconsiderate of others just because it has become common. But Miss Manners would also expect her to pity people who don’t know the right way to thank their hosts or to share their activities, and ignore what should not have been intended for her eyes.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I ran into a high school friend last year who contacted me, four months later, about a part-time position in his marketing company. I’ve been with the company nine months now, and I’m unhappy with the feedback I receive. This is very negative to me, and I’m not seeing results of my hard work.

My manager tells me it’s due to the economy and not to take it personally. However, for the past three or four months I’ve had sleepless nights, have come down with a cold several times and am generally just not motivated to go there in the morning. I have all the signs that I’m not happy with my job and it’s time to move on.

The hard part is, how do I gently tell my manager that it’s not working out for me, that the job is not a good match for me? After all, he did offer me a position after not being in contact with me for 20 years.

GENTLE READER: And very nice of him it was, which you must acknowledge. But that does not make you his indentured servant.

What you should tell him is how grateful you were to get the job, how much you have learned and how impressed you are with his company. Then, just when he thinks you are about to hit him for a raise, you say: “But it’s time for me to move on. I’m so glad I had this experience, and I can’t thank you enough for hiring me.”

Miss Manners warns you that considering the bad feedback, this time he may not try to talk you out of leaving. By withholding your dissatisfaction, you don’t make your friend feel bad for doing you a good turn.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: This young man I have feelings for continues to tease me to the point where I feel I must defend myself, so I tease him back.

It turns out that he is very sensitive and takes my teasing very seriously. Three times he has called me a name that is regrettably used quite a lot outside of the kennel.

We are in college and are two out of the five people who have the same major at a music conservatory, so I see him in all my classes and we live rather close in the dorms.

Is it unladylike to tease a young man? Should I apologize and make amends?

GENTLE READER: Should you apologize to someone who has insulted you in vile language, because you trampled on his sensitive feelings?

Please, no. Miss Manners begs you to turn your own sensitive feelings to protect yourself from people who not only make you feel bad, but also make you feel bad about feeling bad.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.