Submitted: The Two Sides Team October 9, 2012
In an age when people can choose among text messages, email, Facebook and old-fashioned stamps and printed cards, the chance to use the wrong method when sending your very best is quite high. What to do? Well, AP went straight to an expert among experts: Judith Martin, author of the syndicated Miss Manners column, who offers guidance on dealing with the evolving etiquette of expressing sincere sentiments in an increasingly impersonal, digital world.
October 8 2012
Kansas City, MO – Associated Press
In an age when
people can choose among text messages, email, Facebook and
old-fashioned stamps and printed cards, the chance to use the wrong
method when sending your very best is quite high.
What to do?
AP went straight to an expert among experts: Judith Martin, author of
the syndicated Miss Manners column, who offers guidance on dealing with
the evolving etiquette of expressing sincere sentiments in an
increasingly impersonal, digital world.
general advice is that formal events and intimate expressions require a
handwritten note. But for more casual events and occasions, she gives
people permission to send an email or text message greeting or even post
to Facebook. Just keep it tasteful, OK?
Some of Martins pro tips:
Getting married? Get ready to write.
do still have very formal weddings in which case the invitations and
the communication and the expressions of gratitude ought to be in
keeping with that style.
Never email the words, Sorry your mom died.
dont just dash off some casual thing on email. You sit down and write a
real letter. Cards are a strange thing because they are in between.
Ive always been puzzled about why people spend hours selecting a card
with a preprinted sentiment instead of just sitting down and writing a
sentiment that they feel. It doesnt apply to Christmas cards or
Valentine cards, where the picture is a great part of it. But to send,
for instance, a sympathy card is the most impersonal way of reacting to
something that is very deep and emotional.
Romeo didnt email love letters to Juliet. You shouldnt either.
cant imagine that you can print out your electronic love letters and
tie a pink ribbon around them and press them to your heart. And yet Ive
been asked, Is it OK to propose marriage by texting? That would not
exactly touch my heart if I were the object of that proposal.
Disinvite the e-vite.
someone wants to see me, it seems to me that they can do it personally.
If its an informal party, send me an email. But I dont want to be
part of a group that everyone can scrutinize who has been invited. What
did this person say and what did this person say? I dont want to
participate in a public group discussion about the party. Generally
these people dont entertain in such large groups, except for weddings
where they do send paper invitations, that they cant contact the
Dont send an e-card to Miss Manners.
lot of them annoy people because they take a long time to download and
for those who are sentimental about cards, they cant keep them in the
same way. Are you touched, amused, charmed if you get an e-card and you
are trying to work and you download it and it has probably loud music
that your co-workers are turning around to see what it is? It is an
inconvenience and not very charming.
Are you really going to use Facebook to wish your mom happy birthday?
has caused a lot of trouble because people dont realize that everybody
sees it. Yes, you have privacy controls, but if one of your friends
decides to send it on to someone else then youve lost that and its
I cant imagine getting in trouble by sending something nice to your
mother but perhaps it contains a little zinger that you wouldnt want
there permanently. And the amount of damage that people have done to
themselves and others by posting things is enormous because these things
are read by parents, prospective employers, by prospective lovers.
People look and its all out there. I dont think Happy Birthday
Mother does any harm, but you should watch what else you post.
Know where your friends are.
have to know someones actual habits if you are going to reach that
person. Thats kind of a burden to have to know. This one doesnt answer
the phone. This one doesnt check emails. I dont have a solution. Im
just saying that you should be familiar with the range of things that
the people you want to reach or legitimately want to reach you use.
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