Q: I have a pet peeve that I would like to call my generation’s attention to. When I show you a picture on my cellphone, I mean for you to see ONLY the picture that I carefully selected.
I am not giving you permission to scroll left and right in search of other pictures, related or otherwise. If I want to show you another, then I will scroll for you. It isn’t that I have incriminating evidence on my phone, but I don’t appreciate an invasion of my privacy.
Should I just firmly hold on to my own phone when a friend wants a closer look from now on? How would you suggest handling people who think your phone pictures are a public album? By the way, this has happened a number of times with different people, and was not an isolated event.
A: In the days of wallet photos, it was easy to take a baby picture out and hand it to a friend for admiration without running the risk that he would help himself to your cash. Technology has now improved our lives to the point that he can also read your correspondence, check your schedule and find out what you have been reading.
Miss Manners agrees that handing over a cellphone should not be taken as an invitation to shop, but she also understands your friends’ confusion and suggests that you retain possession. The same device can be used to send the picture in question — and only the picture in question — to your friend’s phone.
Q: In a box of candy that has paper holders, do you take the wrapper and candy, or do you just take the candy and leave the wrapper?
A: Take the paper, as it will reduce the necessity to lick your fingers later. Miss Manners says this on practical, more than etiquette, grounds because she assumes that the chocolate will be more correctly dressed (meaning, in this case, undressed) at a formal function.
Q: Is it proper or good manners that, when a person is complimented, they return the favor and find something complimentary to say back?
A: As the polite version of the schoolyard retort “You’re another”?
Generally, it looks too much like repaying a debt before it can accumulate interest. Miss Manners recommends letting the conversation go on a bit after thanking the complimenter, and then finding something quite different to praise.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.