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Miss Manners: How do I avoid being in the background of someone’s selfie?

Dear Miss Manners: How should I handle appearing unexpectedly in the background of a young person’s selfie? When I was at a restaurant and a patron seated at the bar began using her phone to take pictures of herself, I was not the intended target, though could see myself in the frame.

She seemed well within her dining rights to do so, though I was plagued with thoughts of my image appearing on a public social media site, undoubtedly mid-bite of an omelet.

Would it be permissible to make a polite request, or should I simply position myself discreetly out of sight?

It is true that there is no privacy protection against being photographed when you are going about your business in public. And also that it is highly annoying.

Therefore you can only protect yourself with the use of persuasion, in the form of gently making the photographer realize that she is disrupting your meal.

Miss Manners would follow both of your suggestions. In a pleasant manner, you could say, “I'll just get out of your way,” and when she protests, you might add, “No, no, I'll finish my dinner when you're through.” If the person has any sense of decency, that should not be long.

Dear Miss Manners: Some close friends were planning a dinner party and called to include my spouse and me. Dinner was at 6 p.m., and we were invited to join the party at 8 p.m. for dessert.

Our first reaction was one of surprise, confusion and hurt feelings. Certainly, we do not expect invitations for all events, but this felt wrong, as if we were not valued. We gently declined the invitation, but later wondered if our feelings were misplaced. Is this something new? Are we the uninformed? If so, our online searches revealed little to us.

Devilishly, we then mused about reciprocating the invitation, including a dinner upgrade, but serving last night’s leftover meatloaf to these friends as the other guests feasted on tenderloin. We did not execute this plan, but the snickering helped anesthetize our wounded feelings. Are we missing something new?

It is something old. In fact, it was dead until your friends unfortunately resurrected it. Perhaps they were relying on a very old etiquette book. This is an example of a social tradition’s being decidedly uncharming and not worth preserving.

The practice of having second-class guests — who were invited after dinner, as you were, or to attend a wedding but not the reception — is an old one.

But not a nice one. So much for those who believe that everything was done better in the past.

Miss Manners is thankful that you realize that your revenge fantasy must remain merely a fantasy. Talk about not nice. But she will permit you to tell your friends that you are so sorry you missed their dinner — oops, you mean their after-dinner.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022 by Judith Martin.