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Miss Manners: When foreign friends grouse about U.S., try to dig deeper

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What you should do is to find other occasions -- not when America is under discussion -- to get them started talking about their own countries. Are they happy with the government, and its foreign policy? Can it take criticism? Does it provide opportunities to make the most of oneself? And are most people there interesting and polite?

Miss Manners feels sure that you will be supplied with ample material for saying "But I thought you said that at home . . . ?" when they complain about the United States.

Dear Miss Manners:

What's your take on posting the death notice of a loved one on Facebook, or people who post condolences to your Facebook profile?

My grandmother was recently deceased, and my relatives would post their condolences on my Facebook profile. My sister-in-law also announced my grandmother's death via her Facebook status. Though they are well-meaning, I have always felt such practices to be tacky.

That will be two takes that Miss Manners has on the subject, because posting a death notice and sending condolences to the bereaved are different things.

We really don't have a conventional way of announcing a death other than through telephone calls to those with close ties and printed obituaries in newspapers, alumni magazines or professional journals. Thus, not everyone who would be interested finds out. In other societies, black-edged cards are sent out, or notices are put up in public places.

So a dignified notice on an Internet site would not strike Miss Manners as tacky.

Condolences are another matter. Those should be expressions of sympathy and, when possible, kind memories, sent personally from one person to another.

Dear Miss Manners:

My husband and I are in disagreement about showing purchases in malls. He thinks it's fine for me to take them out and show them to him, I do not. Miss Manners, what is your opinion?

Uh, what did you purchase?

Feeling incorrect? E-mail questions to Miss Manners at MissManners@unitedmedia.com; enter them at http://missmanners.comor mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

2010 Judith Martin


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