DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have an older sister who continues to go out to socialize. She posts photos of herself with friends on social media, despite the current need for everyone to stay home. These are not outings to get needed supplies, nor is she going to an essential job.
I tried to gently mention how we should not be going out at all if it can be helped, and she insisted it was only to see a few people, so she was fine. I am worried not only for her own safety, as she is of mature years, but also for that of her 13-year-old daughter (who has a history of pneumonia), her friends who are seniors, and society at large.
She lives where there is a large population of senior citizens, and also where there have been less stringent preventative orders than elsewhere. How does one press such a dire subject for everyone’s safety to someone who isn’t taking the situation seriously?
GENTLE READER: Etiquette cannot substitute for responsible public officials in setting health policy during a pandemic.
Miss Manners does not say this to invalidate your all-too-familiar problem, but rather to acknowledge the heartbreaking results when we are forced to use the wrong tool for the job.
What she can suggest is treating the situation as you would an irresponsible health choice made by a close relative. Your sister is endangering herself, your niece and her friends: This is worth saying to her, even if you are unable to convince her.
When normalcy returns, we will just have to remember that such strong solutions are reserved for dire and imminent threats -- they are not a license to harangue passing strangers about their bad habits.