DEAR MISS MANNERS: There are certain people in my life, as in all people's lives, whom I tolerate because I have to, but whom I don't trust at all. I am pleasant to them but do not seek out their company and do not confide my personal life to them. Cases in point: an ex-boss and a sibling, both of whose tendencies to lie, steal, cheat and manipulate in cold blood for personal gain make me think of them as sociopaths.
Now the world of Facebook has made it impossible to avoid them. Both have asked to "Friend" me; both know that I have "Friended" others whom we have in common.
The thought of their having access to details of my personal life, photos, thoughts, or even "Friends" list gives me the creeps.
On the other hand, blocking them, while they know that I give others full access seems like a slap in the face and likely to cause more trouble between us. Other than dropping out of a very useful and enjoyable medium, what can I do?
GENTLE READER: When, oh when, are people going to learn that the Internet is not a safe place to store private information?
No, not even with the various available restrictions. Have you never confided a secret to a friend and then complained bitterly because the friend was not more discreet than you, who couldn't keep your own secret?
And as you sense, refusing access is like saying, "Nyah, nyah, I have secrets, and you can't see them."
Short of keeping your personal information to yourself, the best you can do is to ignore these appeals, hoping that they presume you just don't check that often. Considering the vehemence of your descriptions of them, they are unlikely to be surprised.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: One of my friends who is graduating wants to invite her friends to a restaurant to celebrate her graduation. However, she probably doesn't realize that if she is inviting people, people who are invited would expect her to pay for the dinner.
When I was invited to another friend's graduation dinner with a few of his friends, his parents footed the bills. Originally, I thought I was supposed to pay for my part, but a friend said no, if you are invited, they usually foot the bills.
How do you say when you want to invite people to dinner but they would have to pay for their food? We tried to come up with a word and the only word that comes to our mind is called Dutch Treat, but that is for dating. Hope you can help me let my friend know how to say it in her e-mail to her friends.
GENTLE READER: Your friend is unfortunately not the only person who believes that one becomes a hostess simply by announcing a time and place where people can treat themselves. And probably treat her as well, since she is also her own guest of honor.
Miss Manners has been endeavoring, with indifferent success, to explain the difference between an invitation and a suggestion for meeting. If you can manage to convey this, she will be grateful.
Suggestions are not formally phrased. What your friend should tell people is that she is treating herself to a special restaurant outing, and wonders if they would like to go along.