Advice Columns

Miss Manners: She doesn’t want to share her physical activity stats

Q: To keep track of my daily physical activity, I wear a fitness tracking device on my wrist. One of my social activities includes singing in a choir that meets once a week.

There is a young lady in my choir who comes up to me and taps my tracker to see what my activity has been. She is not a friend, just someone who is also a choir member. She has also suggested that we post our activity on social media so we can see what each other does.

Yikes! Nothing could be more unappealing to me!

By nature I am a very private person. I do not post my personal information on social media and find her interest in my daily activity quite disturbing. I do not want to seem hostile or hurt her feelings, so I’ve taken to removing my tracker when I go to choir practice.

Perhaps it is a generational thing (I’m in my 60s and she’s probably in her early 30s), but in this age of no-boundaries social media, it seems that nothing is private anymore. This feels as intrusive as someone opening my purse to see what I have.

A: Indeed. Taking it off certainly solves the problem, but you could also say, “Oh, I just do it for myself. I don’t really want to compare my activity to others and broadcast my achievements. I’m sure you understand.”

It is not lost on Miss Manners that (a) most likely she will not understand, nor would anyone of her generation; and (b) the world would be a far more civilized place if they did.

Q: My best pal and I have lunch together about once a month. Lately — even in the middle of our conversation — he has taken to checking for text messages on his cellphone. He has done this as many as five times in the space of an hour, and even takes a minute or more to reply.

I have tried interrupting myself when he does this, but he merely waves a hand and says, “Go ahead — I’m listening.” Once I even pulled a crossword puzzle out of my pocket and worked on it until he noticed. But he still didn’t get the point and simply observed, “Working on the crossword?”

What does one say or do in the face of such rudeness without torpedoing a friendship?

A: Have you tried texting him? It might read something like, “I do so enjoy our time together face to face. But if this is a bad time and you have something pressing, perhaps we should reschedule.”

Q: Is it impolite to leave one of anything, such as one cookie, or should you just finish the package and throw it away?

A: Are you sneaking into someone else’s cupboard? Because if it is your own cupboard, you can do what you like, and if you are being offered cookies elsewhere, they should be on a plate, not in the package.

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,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.