DEAR MISS MANNERS: What do you think about Facebook "friends" who post things that no one cares about, like "I took a nap today" or "I woke up feeling grumpy today" or "I got my oil changed today"?
Also, and even more annoying, are people who post lots of pictures and comments about themselves, their kids, their vacations, etc., but never comment on anyone else's posts. Please share a little Facebook etiquette for everyone!
GENTLE READER: What a gift those sites are for bores. If someone came up to you at a party and said, "I got my oil changed today," how long would it be before you had to excuse yourself because you thought you heard your mother calling you?
The good part is that it is easier to escape bores who have not cornered you in person.
Politeness in any form of discourse requires taking into consideration what would interest the listener, which is exactly the element that is missing in bores. It is a particular danger of Internet postings that what might interest one person is not of widespread interest.
Miss Manners is willing to imagine that the oil change would be of interest to someone planning to use the car; the nap would interest someone directly concerned with that person's health or ability to stay up late for festivities that day; and the grumpiness might serve as a warning to keep out of his or her way.
No doubt there are general announcements intended for an entire circle of friends: births, for example, or "I won the lottery." But one has to be totally besotted with someone else to be fascinated by the mundane details of that person's every day life -- as indeed, bores are with themselves. You may be sure that they do not bring this sort of thing up because they want to hear about your oil change.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My grandmother has offered my fiance and me a choice: either a wedding gift of a certain (very generous) value, or a check of equal amount.
I would love to ask her for a basic set of silver for formal entertaining. With the price of silver these days, I don't think there's any other way we're going to get it! My fiance is not sure the check wouldn't be the better option, but while we sort that question out, could you let me know what would be a good "starter set" for silver?
GENTLE READER: What a generous grandmother you have. Checks have a way of disappearing into other needs, but choosing a present -- and presuming that silver is within the budget she suggested -- it will always be a pleasure for you and for her, in that you think of it as "Grandmother's silver."
The basic starter set for table silver differs from what is generally packaged because unless your primary form of entertainment will be giving tea parties, teaspoons are much less useful than larger oval spoons. A truly basic setting would be: large fork and knife for main courses, small fork for salad and dessert, large oval spoon for soup and dessert.
You then have a lifetime ahead of you in which (if you are as crazy as Miss Manners) to collect specialized implements and serving pieces.