DEAR MISS MANNERS: When one looks up my name on an Internet search engine, one can find lots of embarrassing information about me that I posted a few years ago when I was ignorant of the consequences of posting personal information online.
Can I tell people that I wish for them to not look me up on a search engine? And in general, what do you think of searching for acquaintances' names without their consent?
GENTLE READER: It is a shame that you -- and millions of others -- have to learn the hard way why privacy is important and how to protect it. But Miss Manners cannot allow you to imply that people are nosy for looking at what you yourself posted for public view.
And warning them away is a sure way to direct them there.
One hears daily of new ways of protecting information, but also of its getting out anyway. And once you have posted something publicly, you have no control over the way even authorized people may disseminate it.
Miss Manners would suggest a low-key note, inserted in whatever general statements about yourself that you may have posted, saying, "If you will laugh off my young and foolish statements, I will do the same for you."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am fortunate to live at the beach, and when my children and grandchildren come to visit, they often bring a friend (teens).
I have yet to receive a thank you from the teens' parents. I have them for one week, feed them, take them all out to dinner, and they are treated like family. I don't get a thank you from the child, either.
Is it too much to expect a communication from a parent after their child was cared for and entertained for a week?
GENTLE READER: It is certainly too much to expect parents to write their teenaged children's letters of thanks. What they should be expected to have done is to teach the habit to their children.
As this has been neglected in the case of your guests, Miss Manners suggests that you make your relatives responsible for giving their guests your address "so you'll have it for your letter" as they leave.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I married a man who is 20 years older than myself, and he has two children who are around my age. We are all on very good terms except for one thing.
Whenever we go out for dinner, they always expect us to pay the whole bill. They NEVER offer to even pay the tip or put any money toward the bill. They both have decent jobs, as do I, so it would be nice if once in a while they pick up the bill and pay it.
How can I express my feelings without offending them or sounding like the evil stepmother?
GENTLE READER: Your feelings? What about your husband's?
Miss Manners agrees that it is charming of adult children to reciprocate their parents' hospitality. But having grown up with their parents paying the bills, some do not think of changing. And while parents should appreciate the gesture, some of them prefer to keep that part of the parental role.
If your husband agrees with you, he is the one to say, "We'd love it if you would take us to your favorite restaurants now and then." If not, leave it alone. It has apparently been going on since the time you were born.