Do ma­chines de­serve cour­tesy?

The Dallas Morning News - - Comics & Puzzles - AN­DREWS MCMEEL SYN­DI­CA­TION JU­DITH MARTIN miss­man­[email protected]

Dear Miss Man­ners: I was al­ways taught that when a car stops to let you cross the street, you should give a quick wave as you pass to thank the driver for their cour­tesy. I now live in a city with a num­ber of self-driv­ing cars, and I don’t know whether to wave to them or not.

Though I am caus­ing the pas­sen­gers some small in­con­ve­nience, the car is the one ac­tu­ally mak­ing the de­ci­sion to stop. I’ve been de­fault­ing to wav­ing so far, but the time is fast ap­proach­ing when there will be cars with­out any peo­ple in them. Do I wave to the ro­bots even if it feels a bit silly?

Gen­tle Reader: Tech­ni­cally, you shouldn’t have to, and Miss Man­ners agrees that it is colos­sally silly to an­thro­po­mor­phize tech­nol­ogy. And yet. And yet.

She is weasel­ing be­cause this has be­come a com­mon phe­nom­e­non, even a re­quire­ment in us­ing var­i­ous de­vices that have names and re­spond to voice com­mands. As they do not re­quire cour­tesy, they are get­ting peo­ple in the habit of omit­ting the phrases with which we soften our speech. Surely an oc­ca­sional feel­ing of silli­ness is bet­ter than the habit of rude­ness.

Dear Miss Man­ners: How do I let my hand­ful of sis­ters know that I love them with­out hav­ing to re­ply and ac­knowl­edge ev­ery “I love my sis­ters” post?

I come from a big fam­ily, and am su­per close to my broth­ers, and not so much my sis­ters, but I do love them. In­di­vid­u­ally, my sis­ters will of­ten post some­thing about sis­ters and how much they love each other. Oth­ers in the fam­ily will chime in that they love their sis­ters and all of us in the group.

I have per­sonal rules about how I use so­cial me­dia. Yet, if I don’t par­tic­i­pate,

I am afraid that they will think I don’t love them. That has been ar­gued when a sis­ter wanted me to go against my rules about not for­ward­ing/re­post­ing things.

Gen­tle Reader: This does sound a bit forced and te­dious, Miss Man­ners agrees. But given the choice be­tween typ­ing three words and deal­ing with pout­ing rel­a­tives, surely the former is less trou­ble.

Dear Miss Man­ners: I al­ways bring a lit­tle some­thing with me when I am in­vited over, ei­ther some­thing generic like flow­ers or home­made bread, or some­thing spe­cific like wine or cigars if I know some­one’s tastes.

But in this day and age, it seems odd to re­fer to th­ese things as “host­ess gifts.”

Some of my friends are sin­gle gen­tle­men who live alone. Some are part­nered gen­tle­men cou­ples. And among my part­nered op­po­site-sex friends are two cou­ples where the male mem­ber is the one who ex­cels at party plan­ning and en­ter­tain­ing.

Is there a more gen­derneu­tral name for this to­ken of ap­pre­ci­a­tion for hospi­tal­ity? “Host gift” doesn’t roll off the tongue in quite the same way.

Gen­tle Reader: Why would you roll out any such term? Miss Man­ners hopes you haven’t been telling ladies, “Here, I brought you a host­ess gift,” thus mak­ing it sound as if you are pay­ing a tax. Just hand it to the per­son who is en­ter­tain­ing you.


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