Q: On social media, a person will say something that is rude and then add a “haha” or the term “LOL” at the end, to claim that it was only a joke.
An example is my cousin being told that she has “gained a few pounds since high school, LOL!” Or a person commenting on pictures from a party that my husband and I hosted: “I expect to be invited next time, don’t leave me out, haha!” What is the proper way to respond to such “jokes” that are clearly serious comments?
A: Acronyms like “LOL” and smiley-face emoticons arose as a way of clarifying that something was meant to be humorous when delivered in a medium lacking in more subtle cues, such as tone of voice or an actual smile.
But these computer-based solutions to computer-caused problems are not, Miss Manners notes, the etiquette equivalent of the “undo” function. That is known as an apology. As you have noticed, rude or hurtful statements are not improved by knowing that the perpetrator thought they were funny. They should therefore be answered with the electronic equivalent of disapproving silence: disapproving silence.
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Q: Your reply to the woman seeking validation for chatting in the movies once the “cameras rolled” was disappointing. Perhaps you haven’t gone to the movies lately.
Following lights out, the first screen is a request to be quiet and turn off cellphones, followed by one or two advertisements for refreshments. Next are the trailers (sans ads) for upcoming movies, followed by the main event.
Movies are expensive, and I look forward to the trailers on the big screen in Dolby sound — they help me decide whether to spend time or money on upcoming films. Your correspondent states that she was chatting for FIVE minutes during the “advertising-heavy” digital pre-show before the older couple arrived, and FIVE minutes later, the man asked her to be quiet.
Would you approve of this woman using her cellphone during this time despite management’s request (initial screen) that cellphones be turned off? Honestly, I thought this woman was very inconsiderate.
A: The principle — that silence is required during a performance but not during a canned sales pitch — has certainly been muddled by the difficulty of differentiating the entertainment from the advertisement.
Miss Manners recognizes that many people enjoy trailers, although she is perplexed at the assertion that a short whose sole purpose is to sell a coming attraction can be described as “sans” advertising. Better examples might be theaters that include pre-show lectures and post-show discussions, or sports arenas that feature pre-game musical performances.
In this case, audience members who do not wish to enjoy the bonus entertainment are expected to respect their fellow patrons who do, whether that means keeping conversation to a minimum or waiting until they are in the aisle to locate their car keys.
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.