Miss Manners: Limit smartphone spy app to family

May 21, 2014

DEAR MISS MANNERS: There is a wonderful smartphone app that I use shamelessly to spy on my children. It’s the teenage equivalent of toddler walking reins and allows me to (a) reassure myself they are where they’re meant to be and there’s been no mishap, (b) time dinner on the table to the minute, and (c) time pickup arrangements to the minute — including on one memorable occasion when I needed to rescue my lost and tearful daughter.

I appreciate that at some point it will no longer be appropriate to do this to my children, but right now it is useful. I’m so pleased with it, I’ve told all my friends — who have also been very pleased. The problem is that my friends now want to be able to see where I am at any given point.

Now, I don’t mind my children being able to do this, or even my husband, but I don’t think my friends need to know my every movement. If I want to meet up with them, I’ll call and make an arrangement. If I want them to know where I’ve been, I’ll tell them. (I don’t use social media, either, for similar reasons.)

Please don’t get me wrong: These are wonderful, dear people, and there are few, if any, secrets between us. I know they mean well; I just don’t think they need to know my every movement.

There’s a button on the app to electronically invite people, and the invitee can then accept or decline. So far I’ve ignored it, which doesn’t seem quite nice, but I don’t want to accept, and a cold decline seems unkind. I thought of saying that I thought they must have sent it to me by mistake, but am worried they might reply that it was quite deliberate — and then what would I say?

I love these people dearly and I really want to avoid hurt feelings. How do I gracefully exclude myself from an app that I think is wonderful for keeping an eye on children, and everyone else thinks is good for keeping an eye on adults, too?

GENTLE READER: Ah. Turnabout is fair play. Miss Manners will refrain from rubbing this in — but she can’t promise the same one day from your children.

It is perfectly acceptable to ignore the request from your friends or accidentally erase it. Then if it comes up in conversation, you may deflect it as you said: “Oh, I thought this was only for spying on the children. I never dreamed it would be used for adults. How funny it would be to know a person’s every move! Can you imagine?”

Presumably this would help them understand that maybe they wouldn’t want to be similarly stalked.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Good friends of ours have two adult children. One recently married in a family-only ceremony with only six people in attendance. The other child is having a lavish affair at a country club, which we will attend.

We plan on giving checks as gifts. Do we give the same amount to both, even though one is inviting us to the affair while the other chose a private ceremony?

GENTLE READER: Are you under the impression that wedding presents constitute payment for entertainment?

Apparently, many people are.

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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