DEAR MISS MANNERS: Can you ask people not to post other people’s private information on social media?
When my sister died, a distant relative inadvertently learned of it and posted the news on social media before my sister’s children could be notified, with heart-wrenching consequences. When my mother was hospitalized with a serious illness, she asked that only immediate family know the particulars. Again, a distant relative learned of the details, posting daily until discovered. Finally, when Mom died, someone overheard news of her death and posted on social media before immediate family could be told.
GENTLE READER: English speakers are particularly bad at compound nouns, a fact Miss Manners once demonstrated with the oxymoron “industrial park,” but for which she will now substitute “social media.”
It is not that social media is neither media nor social -- it is decidedly both -- but that in the race to use it as a platform for self-promotion, posters forget the manners applicable to both.
Personal news is best delivered by those closest to the person being notified. Others do so at their peril, a fact to which the military has long been sensitive. You would not casually tell someone terrible news at a party. And newspapers go to some trouble to consult relatives before publishing obituaries. Social media is not the place to post other people’s sensitive news.
You may now consider everyone told. Miss Manners hopes you will find someone else capable of enforcing this ban.