DEAR MISS MANNERS: A long-term boyfriend and I loved taking pictures together and putting them up online on our Facebook profiles for everyone to see. However, we have been broken up for almost a year now and I have been dating another guy for a while.
I have not taken down the pictures of us (there are hundreds of them) because I consider them a part of my history. People have to search pretty far back in my photos to find them. I am also afraid that it would offend him, as we are attempting to remain friends. However, it leads to some awkwardness when friends of my current boyfriend ask me about "that other guy" in some of my old pictures.
This is a fairly new problem for me, technology-wise, and I'm not sure how to approach it. Is it more appropriate for me to take the pictures down or leave them up?
GENTLE READER: When the world is clamoring to know your history, would-be biographers will be begging for your cooperation. Online postings should contain only what you might freely show new acquaintances without embarrassing others or (as an astonishing number of people need to be told) themselves.
If there is nothing in the pictures that would undermine your claim that this is an old friend of yours, a few should not have provoked curiosity -- which leads Miss Manners to believe that there are tons of them, not all pristinely discreet.
The way around offending this now-possible-friend is to tell him that you don't want to damage his chances with others by making them think that he is still attached to you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter has had a few play dates and sleepovers at our house, and I am trying to teach her that when she goes to other people's houses for a play date, she should help her friend clean up before it is time to go home. She has asked her play date friends to help her clean up after playing with toys so she doesn't get stuck cleaning her toy room by herself after her friends leave.
My husband has heard her asking for help and he has instructed her that she should not do this because her friends are guests and guests are not expected to clean up. I disagree with this and wanted to find out what was the correct response
GENTLE READER: Do you not see that you and your husband are basing your arguments on different situations?
Miss Manners is afraid that it is not enough to teach your daughter how to behave as a guest and allow her to improvise host manners on the assumption that they are the same. In fact, they are opposite, although they form a synergy.
A good guest offers to help but does not insist if the offer is firmly refused. A good host never requests help and offers mild resistance if it is wanted, but firm resistance if it is not.
One reason that Miss Manners does not allow amateurs to set their own etiquette rules is that they fail to take into account the point of view of other people affected, in addition to their own.