DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a professional transcriptionist, and I spend, literally, eight hours or more a day on solid computer use. I am very reluctant to spend my off time on yet more computer use, let alone use precious time with my family with my nose to the screen.
So I do not participate in online social media. Several of my siblings find this deplorable, that I am not “with it.” Am I being anti-social?
GENTLE READER: Has it come to that — that wanting to be with human beings, instead of machines, is called anti-social?
When Miss Manners picks herself up from the fainting couch, she might consider the possibility that your siblings have given up writing letters, making telephone calls and sending e-mails, and that they therefore feel that they have lost touch with you unless they can tell themselves that you are reading their posts.
So while you should ignore the bullying about not keeping up — a tactic they should have left behind with childhood — you might address the deeper problem. Tell them you would love to keep in personal touch and invite them to visit.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At the end of the year, all parents in my daughter’s school get a notice sent home from the school requesting that students, as well as parents, fill out little thank-you notes in different shapes to show appreciation for the staff. Yes, we are being directed to write thank-yous. I have never heard of this, and I do not remember these requests years ago when I was in school.
In addition, another notice is given at the end of the year to parents about a staff appreciation luncheon. Parents are requested to bring in food, etc., on a certain day for the staff. Again, I have never heard of this and was wondering what your thoughts are on this subject. Besides the fact that asking for thanks seems a bit presumptuous to me, not to mention pushy, it’s a bit unnatural to me.
GENTLE READER: Undoubtedly, it would be better if the parents had thought of showing appreciation to the teachers, but Miss Manners gathers that they did not. Perhaps when you were in school, they did not need to be prompted.
Socially, it is indeed gauche to ask for thanks. But at the schools, let us consider it educational for both parents and students to learn to express gratitude in writing.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When you have plans with someone, and they call to cancel, what is a proper way to respond instead of saying, “Oh, that’s okay”? The world seems to take advantage of those of us who remain flexible.
GENTLE READER: You are saying more or less the right thing, but apparently you are saying it too convincingly. How you should say it depends on the seriousness of the excuse offered.
If the person is calling from a hospital bed, it would be, “My goodness, I understand, I hope you’ll be all right.” If no excuse, or a flimsy one, is offered, Miss Manners recommends saying, “Quite all right” with a pause between each word, and cutting off further explanations.