February 6, 2023

Tech Amazon

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Should I say “please” and “thank you” to my virtual assistant? I’m not happy about the ongoing dehumanization of our society – like replacing human jobs with checkout robots so we don’t have to stand in line for four minutes looking at our neighbors.

I don’t usually say, “Siri, PLEASE add milk to my grocery list.” But at the same time, I feel like we lose something as humans when we stop being polite, even to people and things that don’t appreciate it . I’m torn.

GENTLE READER: Technically, you don’t have to offer favors to inanimate objects, even those pretending to be your mate. The problem is the manners of those who no longer distinguish between them and humans.

There’s a difference. And if people addressed each other respectfully, the difference might be even greater.

Miss Manners respectfully requests that those who are able to influence the instructions given using the technology require that orders be given politely.

• • •

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband’s manager has a habit of calling after work and on weekends resulting in hours of conversation about matters that are not urgent. My husband doesn’t want to upset his manager and enjoys short chats with him.

Once his manager called me after my husband didn’t answer the phone. I told him we would have dinner but he could call back afterwards.

He didn’t take no for an answer, so I replied, “Sorry, what I meant to say is that we’re going to have dinner without interruptions.” Eventually, he said he’d talk to him tomorrow instead.

Was there a more polite way to deal with this? How do you politely respond to someone with no boundaries?

GENTLE READER: You could ask your husband that. Maybe he has some thoughts on the boundaries that should be maintained between you and his boss.

• • •

DEAR MISS MANNERS: After my son’s wedding, some delicate situations arose regarding gifts. Some friends and relatives to whom we have been very close—and to whom we have been generous on all occasions over the years—have either given my son very few gifts or none at all.

Our feelings are quite hurt and we wonder if these relationships are even worth maintaining. If we then decide to distance ourselves, do we say why? Or do we address the issue with them and give them an opportunity to fix it?

I know we shouldn’t focus much on the gift giving aspect, but when you’ve been giving to others all along and you feel a lack of caring or thoughtfulness in return, it becomes difficult not to pay attention.

GENTLE READER: You’ve obviously wondered what friends are for if not to give lavish gifts on occasion. Under these conditions, you can consider these friendships over. Miss Manners assures you that telling them the price of your friendship will not revive them.

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