Miss Manners: I don’t like it when the mail starts with “Hi” instead of “Dear”


Dear Miss Manners: Or should I say “Hi, Miss Manners!” ?

I’ve noticed that all emails and many snail letters, even business letters, start with “Hi” instead of “Dear”. I don’t like that, especially from strangers or when it comes to business. But if I keep writing “Dear,” will people think I’m sending them love letters?

Or spam. miss manners noticed that spammers have adopted versions of “Dear” as a greeting, sometimes changing it to “Beloved”.

They too seem to interpret it as a flattering affection rather than a neutral convention.

Miss Manners isn’t quite ready to drop the conventional “Dear” greeting and agrees with you that “Hi!” looks cheeky. But she’s open to ideas if anyone can think of something simple and dignified.

Dear Miss Manners: I met two local celebrities at separate social events. These people are well known, but not so famous that they would assume everyone knows who they are. These were family events, unrelated to the work that underpins their prominent status in the community.

What is the proper way to indicate that I knew who they were while being introduced to them? An awkward imbalance was created as I knew so much more about them than they knew about me.

Could you honestly you said, “I admire your work? Alternatively, perhaps a cordial, “I know you by reputation.”

Or not. Miss Manners asks you to consider the possibility that such a person may not want to act as a public figure at informal family gatherings. You could simply introduce yourself as you would meet any guest.

Dear Miss Manners: My partner and I tried to attend at least one cultural event — a museum, a concert or a play — each month. One thing troubles me: At the end of almost every live performance we’ve attended, audience members jump to their feet and give the performers a standing ovation.

I can understand that when the performers are students or amateurs, and the audience is family members. But now it seems like a standing ovation is given for every show, no matter how well executed.

I understood that a standing ovation was reserved for exceptional performances, and I jumped to my feet during exceptional productions. Now, however, there seems to be a race to see who can get up the fastest. On the other hand, you don’t want to be the only one to keep your seat.

Should we join in this overworked exercise, if only to begin our exit from the room?

No. But you will don’t be alone, as Miss Manners will remain seated unless the performance is truly outstanding or performer related.

What you’re describing is standing ovation inflation, the entertainment equivalent of grade inflation in academia. Audiences relinquished their privilege to pass judgment on professional performances, with the sweet but misguided idea that they should thank artists for showing up, whether they were successful or not.

But that, in turn, robs performers of the chance to earn real tributes, instead of robotic ones. If everyone is exceptional, no one stands out.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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