DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have several friends, and even complete strangers, who always want to show me pictures of their children and grandchildren on their smartphones. We are not talking about one picture, but 20 or more.
I do not know these children and, frankly, it is boring. I have vision problems and the small screen gives me a headache.
I have tried looking at a couple of pictures and trying to change the topic. They put the phone away and soon it comes out again. I even had a complete stranger show me pictures of his six children and their associated children in the ophthalmologist’s office while my eyes were dilating.
I am sick of it, and my comments are getting more and more rude. Could you please suggest a phrase I might use to stop the cellphone attack?
GENTLE READER: Putting cameras into telephones was a step backward for civilization, Miss Manners believes. Suddenly people were waving selfie sticks around, posting unflattering pictures of others, broadcasting their bragging, and, as you experienced, spreading colossal amounts of boredom. Really, the only use that ought to be permitted is gathering evidence of crime.
There can hardly be a better excuse than dilated eyes to avoid these shows, but apparently even that didn’t work. Even if it had, Miss Manners supposes that you can’t always hang around the ophthalmologist’s office. She recommends complimenting the children for two pictures, and then handing back the telephone saying, “You’d better take this -- I don’t trust myself not to drop it.” That the danger would be your dropping it in a soporific state of boredom, rather than clumsiness, need not be specified.