DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a dear friend who is constantly sharing repetitive photos on social media of her children and grandchildren. Nothing wrong with this. But how can we, as honest and genuine friends, continue to “like” the same photos and give the same accolades, over and over again, without being disingenuous?
I am rarely on Facebook, so when I miss an opportunity to praise this friend’s children’s accomplishments, she texts the information to me, so I feel obliged to comment ... again.
It’s getting tiring and, frankly, I’m feeling dishonest. I have a feeling that I’m asking a question that many honest and caring folks who use social media would appreciate an answer to.
Let me add that I am not in the least jealous or envious of this friend. I am genuinely grateful for all the good that is happening in her family. It’s the constant repetition of the need for praise that’s getting to me.
GENTLE READER: Do you remember when “sharing” was considered an act of friendship?
Neither does Miss Manners. Somehow it turned into nonstop bragging. If you paid the attention that is asked to the narrations others post of their lives, you would not have time to live your own life.
Small wonder, then, that people are starting to disconnect themselves. Many, especially among the young, do not answer telephone calls. An increasing number of people are limiting or quitting social media.
So your friend would not be justified in taking it personally if you confessed to her, apologetically, that you are weaning yourself from your devices, even to the extent that you cannot keep up with the flood of text messages. Just be sure that when you actually see her, you ask to look at pictures of her grandchildren.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My parents and I went to see an independent film that promotes a political agenda with which I don’t agree. The auteur had set up a table outside the theater and was giving away free T-shirts. Subsequently, my parents offered me one if I wanted it. When I declined, I think they felt a little insulted.
If they had given me this T-shirt as a gift, I would have thanked them, taken it, and promptly put it in the donation bin when I got home. I felt free to decline because they specified “if you want one.” Should I have treated this like a gift and just taken it?
GENTLE READER: The surface answer is that there was no insult in your declining such an offer. But they are your parents, and Miss Manners probably doesn’t need to tell you that there is a lot going on here beneath the surface.
Here is her guess at what is lurking below:
Your parents are aware that your political views differ from theirs, and hoped that the movie might help change your mind.
You agreed to go to oblige them, and perhaps to gain some insights into their thinking.
They hoped it had worked to the extent that you would wear evidence of having changed to their views. This was a probe, rather than a gift.
But it didn’t work, so they were disappointed.
Miss Manners suggests that you tell them simply that you found the film interesting, and let it go at that.