Miss Manners: Make grandma happy with e-mails of your own

April 29, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 20-year-old college student. My grandmother sends me dozens of forwarded e-mails each week with information such as “watch out for new virus.”

I try to be respectful, and even spent some time last semester trying to reply to each e-mail she sent, despite the fact that it was cutting into my other priorities, like school and sorority. However, it annoys me that she expects me to have the time to respond to her excessive e-mails.

A few months ago, a spam account got a hold of my e-mail and address book and sent my contacts (including my grandmother) an e-mail with a virus link. My grandmother clicked on the link (apparently all the Internet knowledge she sends to others didn’t teach her not to click on an unknown link), and I had to spend hours on the phone with her, helping her get rid of the virus.

After that incident, I finally realized I didn’t have time to sit and reply to ridiculous forwarded e-mails when I have other priorities, such as keeping my GPA up. I saw my grandmother a few weeks ago, and I could tell she wanted to make a rude comment about my not responding to her e-mails. I still think it’s absolutely ridiculous to respond to a forwarded e-mail. Do you have any advice on forwarded emails?

GENTLE READER: You are under no obligation to reply to forwarded e-mails with no personal content. However, you are under an obligation to your grandmother.

But before you make Miss Manners responsible for your GPA, allow her to suggest a less time-consuming way of handling the situation. That would be to deal with the underlying problem, rather than the surface one.

It is not that your grandmother is dying to know what you think of the canned material she forwards. She just wants to hear from you. An occasional quick message, if it is only to say that you’re up studying for a chemistry exam and hope she is well and that her garden is in bloom, would please her more.

But there is no escaping the task of digging older generations out of the computer problems they bring on themselves. That is the burden the young have to bear. Someday, when the technology is totally different, your young will dig you out of the mistakes you would not have made if you had paid closer attention to their warnings.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I looked up the sauce spoon on the Internet, I saw pictures of a spoon with a v-shaped notch taken out of one side. Is that it? If so, what is the purpose of the notch?

GENTLE READER: Sauce spoons for individual place settings look as if a truck ran over your oval soup spoons. Allegedly, the notch is to allow oiliness to run off, but Miss Manners believes that as they are a 20th-century French invention rarely used, the notch serves as a tipoff that attempting to use this nearly flat-bowled spoon to eat anything liquid would be disastrous.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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