Miss Manners: Escape bigoted friends by making new ones

June 19, 2014

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m in the 10th grade, and after moving to a new country, city and school, I was “taken in” by a group of other high-schoolers who seemed to think of me as their friend right away. They took me into their clique, so to speak.

However, as the weeks go on, I’ve noticed that they make continual sexist and racist jokes. I’ve asked them to stop — as far as I know, in a polite way.

No one has stopped, though. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m being too weak-willed or if my “friends” really don’t care.

I’ve now come to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to end these friendships (if that’s what they really are). But I don’t know how to tell them to leave me alone without offending anyone. What do you think I should do?

GENTLE READER: Make new friends. Just as it is easier to find a new job while you still have one, so will it be to find a better class of friends. Then you can ease your way out of the old friendships, citing an overtaxed schedule.

If you are feeling very brave, your older self would thank you for politely telling them that you have conflicting viewpoints. But Miss Manners is not impervious to the cruelty of teenagers and would forgive you if you didn’t. That you drop the friendships should be enough to convey to others that you do not agree with their unbecoming prejudices.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a sister I love and a niece and nephew I adore. I love that the convenience and quality of mobile phone cameras are at the point where pictures of them are plentiful and aren’t necessarily hampered by poor quality.

Unfortunately, my sister seems to enjoy using Instagram-style filters that are in vogue, especially ones designed to look like vintage photos, when camera technology produced charming and interesting effects — which are, in essence, of lesser quality.

My assumption is that I must accept that my sister enjoys these filters and try to not let them distract me. However, if there is the opportunity for me to gracefully tell her that I wish I could enjoy more true-to-life, unfiltered pictures of her gorgeous children, I would love to find it.

GENTLE READER: “Oh, I do so love getting pictures from you. And it’s so interesting how the new technologies change the children’s looks so drastically. Perhaps you could send me the unfiltered ones so I could try it myself.”

This should achieve what you desire and assuage your sister’s artistic sensibility. If not, Miss Manners feels certain that “unfiltering” will be the next rebellion from purists such as ourselves.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it socially acceptable to remove your retainer at the table?

GENTLE READER: Ewww. Please tell Miss Manners that you are not seriously contemplating doing this. If she is queasy just hearing the idea, she can imagine how people feel who might be forced to watch.

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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