Miss Manners: Constant candid shots feel like assault

March 4

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I feel intimidated and insulted (perhaps assaulted) by everyone and their cameras.

Everywhere I go lately, everybody is taking pictures with their cameras and phones. It’s a constant barrage, and then, “Look! Look! How do you like this one? HAHAHA! Let’s do it again. Oh, now it’s my turn.” On and on and on.

I am not crazy about having my picture taken to begin with. And now there is the concern about what they are going to do with it. I don’t want to end up on someone’s social media page.

How can I tell people politely that I feel like they are compromising my privacy and ruining a good time? I feel totally all right with the old practice of a picture or photo from time to time. It is just this barrage of “candid” shots that makes me want to hide out!

GENTLE READER: Reasonable as your point is, it is unlikely to be taken well. Either you will yourself be accused of ruining a good time, or the image of you scowling disapprovingly as you lecture the photographer will turn out to be just the candid snapshot the offender was hoping for.

Better to render the photograph itself uninteresting. Miss Manners recommends a bored smile accompanied by turning away to notice something off in the distance.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What do the parents do when their daughter gets engaged?

GENTLE READER: Some dance in the streets; others try to lock her in her room.

Miss Manners advises a short rest period following either activity before entering into discussions comparing the couple’s idea of a perfect wedding with the parents’.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was saddened to read a newspaper article in which a pregnant lady attempted to get a seat in the subway and failed a number of times, despite seats being reserved for this purpose (and for seniors, people with disabilities, etc.)

This is certainly unfortunate, but I can’t help but think that there may be an additional explanation besides just lack of courtesy. After all, there’s a competing social norm that prohibits one from inferring a stranger’s pregnancy. Imagine the embarrassment of attempting to give up one of the reserved seats to a lady, only to have her tell you she’s not pregnant!

Could there be another solution? Perhaps if the pregnant ladies made some obvious gesture such as putting one hand maternally on their belly while trying to catch someone’s eye? I think that would make it much easier for the polite among us to give up our seats without fear. However, I don’t want to add to, as it were, the burden.

GENTLE READER: As the lady in question may need both hands t hold on in a moving subway car, let us not add to her burden with unnecessary gesturing.

Stand and ask her if she would like your seat. If she does not want or need it, Miss Manners hopes she will politely decline. If she responds rudely (“What makes you think I need it?”) you need only re-seat yourself and continue your journey.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

2014, by Judith Martin

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