Friday, February 28, 2020

Unwelcome Birthday Greetings: Ask the Manners Doctor

Is it acceptable for strangers to post advertising and political rants on your Facebook page on your birthday?

The Manners Doctor, aka Camilla Randall, author of "Good Manners for Bad Times" and "Rx for the Modern Wedding", has agreed to visit this blog once a month to answer some of our questions about online etiquette.

Are Girl Scouts taking over the world with poisoned Thin Mints?

Dear Manners Doctor,

I recently had a birthday, and I was gratified to see how many of my social media “friends” wished me happiness. But my Facebook page was also crowded with ads for books and services, plus a 2000 word rant from a man who claims that Lizard People from Betelgeuse have infiltrated the Girl Scouts and are planning to take over the world by poisoning people with bogus Thin Mints.

Some of my friends complained about the rant and some of the books, so I deleted the posts. Now the Lizard Person complains I have violated his freedom of speech. So did one of the authors who advertised a copy of her erotica book.

Am I violating the rights of these people?  

Birthday Girl

Dear Birthday Girl,

The Manners Doctor is always appalled by the behavior of people who think that being “on the Internet” somehow eliminates the need to practice good manners. Being online actually requires more attention to manners since one can’t use facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language to fine-tune one’s messages.

What you describe is the equivalent of posting advertising billboards and political signs on a neighbor’s lawn without permission. Whether or not these are posted on the neighbor’s birthday, this is bad manners. 

These people are trespassing.

The doctor suspects that these people have read the Facebook guidelines that say it’s a no-no to post on another person’s “timeline” unless there is some occasion where you want to send good wishes, like a birthday.

But this does not mean that people are invited to invade a neighbor’s personal space on their birthday.

As for the accusation of the victim violating the “freedom of speech” of these trespassers, the victim is not the one doing the violating. Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas in public without fear of retaliation by the government.

It does not say one’s speech is free from consequences. Just free from government retaliation.

If you call your mother-in-law a Lizard Person from Betelgeuse, you will have to deal with the consequences, and “freedom of speech” will not save you.

Besides, Facebook is not “public.” It is a private company. And Mr. Zuckerberg is not the government. You have every right to decide what is printed on your page as long as Mr. Zuckerberg does not object.

The Manners Doctor does not believe the Girl Scouts are Lizard People planning to take over the world with poisoned Thin Mints. This is because the Girl Scouts have already taken over the world with Thin Mints, which are one of the most addictive substances known to man. 

Very Truly Yours,
The Manners Doctor

Have you ever had unwanted things posted on your FB page on your birthday? At other times? How did you deal with it? Do you have any questions for the Manners Doctor? 


Googling Old Boyfriends: the Latest Camilla Comedy-Mystery

Want a fun escape to a California beach town?
"If you love comic mysteries that read like watching a movie in your head, you’ll have no trouble losing yourself in “Googling Old Boyfriends.” The prose is sharp, the humor dead on, and the solution unexpected with a romantic postscript." blogger Debra Eve
Googling old Boyfriends cover reveal

The Camilla Randall mysteries are a laugh-out-loud mashup of crime fiction, rom-com, and satire. Morro Bay bookshop owner Camilla Randall is a magnet for murder, mayhem, and Mr. Wrong. But she always solves the case in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way. With some help from her cat, Buckingham.
In this stand-alone 7th episode, Camilla befriends socialite Mickie McCormack—a sexy, mysterious older woman who’s going through a painful divorce. Mickie has been Googling her old boyfriends to reconnect and “remember who she used to be.” Unfortunately every one of those boyfriends soon ends up dead.

"I whizzed though this page-turner in 48 hrs., scratching my head every step of the way yet stubbornly determined to solve. A fun read by a talented writer who grabs your attention and refuses to let go!" Bonnie Classen


  1. Oy. All. The. Time. I love when friends send me murder meme... but "those" authors. Ugh! They're so annoying, aren't they? The gall of some people renders me speechless, and that's no easy to do. ;-) Let's not even discuss being tagged with 1298 others or added to group chats in Messenger. *facepalm*

  2. Sue--You're so right. Being tagged can be annoying, but the group chats are the worst! Often they're sappy little memes that are riddled with malware and viruses. What are these people thinking?

  3. The Manners Doctor has it spot on. I'm fed up with people asking me to 'Like' their page. Why would I like it? I've never seen it.

    1. Geraldine--Aren't those annoying? If you do "like" some random page, your feed will be filled with ads for whatever that author writes: erotica, violent thrillers, whatever. It subverts your brand and your feed.