DEAR MISS MANNERS: What's your beef with a cash bar at wedding receptions? Weddings are incredibly expensive, and a couple starting out shouldn't have to go in the hole for thousands of dollars just to throw a reception where Miss Manners and a bunch of other deadbeats can have unlimited liquor. I thought you were a classy broad!
If we should encounter one another at a wedding reception, then your first drink will be on me, and you can hustle the rest yourself! I DARE YOU TO PRINT THIS!
GENTLE READER: Suppose you go first and explain why anyone would want to stage a thousands-of-dollars event for people whom they think of as deadbeats, and why other people would want to attend the wedding of those who thought that of them. This will give Miss Manners a moment to think of a tactful way of saying that she does not care to drink with you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Unbeknownst to me, someone new to our area, whom I had invited to accompany my husband and me on a day hike in a beautiful natural area, took video with his cell phone of some scenery, and then posted the video to YouTube.
It did not have any footage of me, but it did have a caption, "In the Mountains with the Smiths."
I prefer not to have photos, videos or any other evidence of my private life to appear on other peoples' Facebook pages, on YouTube, or anywhere else without my permission.
I accept that this might happen in a big group activity, such as a family wedding, but I do not want my every weekend trip or potluck with friends recorded for strangers to look at.
What is the most polite way to request that this not be done, and when should I ask? When I issue or accept invitations, or when I see the cell phone or other recording equipment come out? What can I politely do if someone does not wish to accede to my wishes for privacy?
GENTLE READER: Photographic harassment has gotten to be a serious etiquette problem, what with everyone photographing everyone else and posting it for the world to see. But perhaps you will forgive Miss Manners for saying that the one you suffered has got to be the mildest case of it on record.
Your guests did not photograph you. They did not go against your wishes, because you had not stated your wishes, not having known they were taking pictures, which also means that they did not disrupt the hike.
You will now be surprised to hear that Miss Manners has enormous sympathy with your annoyance. Now that the cellular telephone means that nearly everyone carries a camera all the time, and the Internet has become a giant scrapbook for everyone's pictures, visual privacy is becoming a lost concept.
The dangers are not trivial, as more and more people are discovering when their superiors at work (not to mention their parents, children and other attachments) have a clear view of what they looked like partying the night before.
But keeping that possibility in mind may be even worse. The strain of knowing that one is never just among friends, but always before the vast public, subject to the harsh judgment of strangers, is enough to rob even the most blameless life of pleasure.
Nevertheless, general opinion now is that taking pictures is harmless and to be expected. Miss Manners suggests that you -- indeed, all of us who value privacy -- will have to get into the habit of saying, "If you're planning to take pictures, please leave me out."