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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Social Media Addiction + More

Thursday, January 15, 2015


In a perfect new world of 2015, we would all be gentler, use a little tenderness and more tolerance toward those who are addicted to social media, overweight or simply comfortable with their man-spread. All questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners.com this week.

My Girlfriend The Social Media Addict

What do I say to my live-in girlfriend who has a weird addiction to social media? She is obsessed with her phone and iPad. Checks them all the time for updates when out to dinner on a date, during a movie, even in church at her uncle's funeral. I'm feeling there are three of us in this relationship? 

~J.L., Los Angeles, CA

It is OK to be worried. 52% of fatal crashes are cellphone-related. This may seem like an addiction, but it isn't one. It is social interaction. Your girlfriend conducts her social life via text.

Whether we like it or not, smartphones have become amazingly valuable as extensions of ourselves on an unconscious level. Glued to the palms of our hands, the phone has become the way we connect with the world and the people in it.

For better or for worse cellphones have become our voice when we wish to communicate. Not only have they become our brains for accessing instant information, but our memory for schedules and contact info, photos and videos that we record and store, etc.. Stuff that otherwise would not not have been recorded and saved.

Sometimes a cellphone seems to be more important than a romantic partner. Nonetheless, even when cellphones are nor being used, their mere presence divides attention, which is why banning them on dates would not make sense. She would still be wondering what she was missing.

The solution is to bargain for compromise. They are there, but you don't use them while you're having dinner, nor do they vibrate in bed. Talking about the problem will help you two sort this out. Watching a movie, give her the option to ignore the call or text or go in the other room to respond. Set up guidelines, just the way you do with figuring out housekeeping and who does what in the relationship. 


Handling Your Child's Meanness On Social Media

I crept up behind my daughter and read she had written on social media something mean. She was furious that I snooped. The problem is that she posted the comment. Aside from limiting her privacy further, how do I help her make amends and teach her good social media manners? 

~H.M, Allentown, PA

Once you've had your daughter take down the unfortunate comment, it is time for her to tell you the whole story. Have her tell it to you from start to finish before asking questions. Find out what prompted her to be mean. Does she understand that possibly thousands of people saw, or could have seen, her comment? How would your daughter feel if someone posted something hurtful about her? Don't let her keep this as a runaway secret -- something she's gotten away with.

If the comment she made was truly cruel, you must figure out with her how to make amends. Does she post an apology? Does she explain why she posted her original comment?

Then you two should consider whether posting an apology could make the situation worse. For instance, if many of their friends would be just getting wind of her mean-spirited post, they would probably ask her about it and talk amongst themselves expanding the number of people who know about the hurtful comment.

Help your daughter decide what would be the least embarrassing way to apologize to this girl she has hurt? Then you have to make a decision as to whether or not you feel you should tell the girl's mother what happened, and how the incident was handled by your daughter.

If the mean comment was indeed hurtful -- and most are -- the victim needs support from her family and an apology is in order to start the healing process. Possibly the apology should be done in person.

Leave her with the thought that you want her to be someone who has good manners, which means she should be nice, nice, nice. Make her promise that she will read every comment three times before she presses send, to make sure she hasn't typed anything that can be interpreted as mean-spirited.

As her role model, going forward you do not want her hearing you say unkind and mean things about her friends and acquaintances -- or yours. Gently remind your daughter from time to time that you'll be reading her posts indefinitely. 


What To Say When People Bring Up Your Weight

My bestfriend's husband is always bringing up my weight. It is so predictable. He cannot see me and not mention that my friend his wife "works out everyday and feels so much better." Truth is, I'm OK with my weight. I'm not slender, but I'm happy that nobody seems to mind but him. Oh, yes, and a couple of women friends always talk about having to go to some weigh station to get weighed-in like a semi-conductor truck on the highway, so she might be a little late meeting me or how I should try her Zumba class. They mean well, but I don't want my friends always bringing up my weight. What should I say?  Alexandra, Charleston, SC

Our brains are naturally sensitive to negativity. It is a fight-or-flight situation. Don't let your weight be a trigger that affects your feeling of well-being. Merely becoming aware of your triggers is a good start.

Think about how to see it differently. Try reframing what the person said and say it back to them with a request, "I'm uncomfortable listening to you talk about your apparent obsession with weight issues. Would you mind if we talked about something else?" 


What To Say About His Man Spread

My boyfriend sits with his knees spread far apart. I find it embarrassing. How do I tell him he is too old to sit that way. He's 22. 

~L.W., Seattle

Try a bit of humor. Why not say something such as, "Are your pants uncomfortable? Are they too tight?"

Then when he asks why you're asking, tell him you think he looks really uneasy with his legs splayed far apart. His testicles must feel crushed from all the pressure. He'll listen to that.

Habits are hard to break. You'll have to play with him about this everytime you see him in his man-spread -- in order to help him break the habit. 


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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