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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Social Faux Pas

Thursday, October 01, 2015


What were the most annoying social faux pas into Didi's Manners this week? Social media etiquette, alienating hygiene etiquette, gender etiquette, and how to be an annoying guest.

Most annoying social media

Q.  Some people have too much time on their hands sitting in traffic or behind a desk, or watching TV, so they resort to fidgeting with social media to wile away the hours. Checking for updates to see who liked and shared their (and their 'friends') latest posts and who attended which party, and in which swell pub or restaurant they are imbibing and dining. As much as I love family and friends, enough is enough. How can I avoid being that annoying person who whittles away time addicted to social media? I'm just as guilty as they are.  S.S., Los Angeles

A.  You can cut back by blocking the more irritating sharers and editing back on a couple of your own annoying topics. A recent U.K. study highlighted the most annoying social media topics. The most egregious, unsurprisingly, are posts on diet and exercise, promoting the latest miracle shake Shakeology, or bragging about their conquest in the marathon. Let whoever shot the photo of you at the finish line post the share.

Then there are the meal and recipe sharers, who have discovered the quickest way to get the skin off of an avocado or to make pastries in the shape of roses. Along with the signature dish at the latest name-drop restaurant that happens to have just arrived as your dinner. Send those food clips only to your foodie friends.

Gaming invitations seem to be on the wane until the next batch of virtual gambling descends upon us, but the baby photos are full force out of control. Not just the parents, but the grandparents and friends of friends are cooing and ooh-ing. Maybe don't go public with those shares. Send them to Family + Close Friends. Likewise with the selfies, you really don't want your work colleagues knowing that you enjoy pole dancing on girls' night out.

On the other hand, those who share too much about themselves need our empathy. How do we 'Like' the fact that their dog died? It's confusing. If you Like the post that their dog died, what exactly do you like? The feeling that you're supporting your friend in their grief? Does that really translate as sharing in their mourning process? Send a card. Yes, we love watching an occasional video of a mother elephant and her calf frolicking, but not more than once a day.

Event spammers, tweet your event date only a couple of times, because too many reminders may encourage us not to go. They are in the same class as self-promoters. Can anyone be more annoying?  ~Didi

Alienating hygiene

Q.  What do we do about our older friend with bad hygiene? It isn't a matter of money, she just doesn't seem to know that she has chronic bad breath and bad body odor. When we go out for lunch we practically fight over who does not have to sit next to her. Her clothing also needs cleaning. Is there something we can do to help our dear friend improve her hygiene?  M.N., Cleveland

A.  It is time for the hygiene talk. You had it with friends in high school who refused to wear deodorant or shower. Next time you get together talk about how to tell a hypothetical someone that they have bad body odor. Be forewarned that she may like the way she smells. Her alienating scent might comfort her - for some mysterious reason - if she's insecure, on edge, or depressed about her age, health or emotional stability. So talking about bad body odor in vague terms may not lead to self-awareness, unless of course she guesses that you're all talking about her.

If that doesn't work be more direct. Be honest. Take her aside and say, "Please, don't shoot the messenger because I care about you or I wouldn't be telling you this. May I suggest that you find a new dry cleaner and use a stronger clothing detergent, and talk to your doctor about your health and emotional stability. It might be that meeting with a nutritionist could cure the problem, if you're deficient in certain minerals and vitamins. Because I care about you I want you to be aware that your body odor and chronic bad breath are off the grid offensive."  

On the other hand, there are those who believe that we do too much to disguise our own body odors.

Remember that because our own smells are processed unconsciously, we usually aren't aware of the many ways our body and breath odors affect our social lives.  ~Didi

Gender etiquette

Q.  Does a guy still have to hold the door open for a woman? Or is it considered condescending to hold open a door and have to wait for her to walk through? My girlfriend gets very upset when I hold the door open for her but not for the random person behind us. L.J., Brooklyn, NY

A.  Holding open the door that you've just passed through for the person walking in behind you is not about etiquette gender. It is a matter of courtesy to the next person who, by the way, is headed in the same direction. You do 'the heavy lifting' out of respect whether they are of the male or female persuasion, young or old, or same socioeconomic or ethnic background.
Holding the door open for the person behind you is basic good manners. ~Didi

The annoying dinner guest

Q.  Is there a way to encourage a RSVP from an invited guest? My ever-so-charming brother-in-law never accepts or regrets an invitation until the day of the event which makes him very hard to seat. He usually accepts, but then he's ambiguous about whether or not he's bringing a date. The problem is that I assign him next to a star guest, but when I haven't heard from him, I shift someone else into that seat. I even go so far as to call him twice to ask him again if he's coming. "I'll let you know," he says." "Will you be bringing your partner?" I ask again. "I'll let you know," he says. Then when he arrives and sees that he's not seated next to a star guest, he sulks and once he even left before dinner as a statement that I'd let him down.  Anonymous, Boston

A.  Sadly, your guest from hell is your beloved brother-in-law. So the sooner you set boundaries with him the happier you'll be. At some point soon, before you shoot him off another invitation, explain the drill. He may be so self-absorbed that he can't empathize with your plight as the hostess. Describe your process:  you plan the seating and hope everyone accepts. When people haven't accepted at some point you redo the seating so you're not stuck at the last moment, stressing. If you haven't explained that clearly enough to him, go ahead and spell it out again. ~Didi

Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi." If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location.


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