Real Simple’s Modern Manners columnist answers a reader question.

By Julie Rottenberg
Mark Lund

Q. Recently I ran into a friend who wanted to show me pictures of his baby. He then thrust his phone into my hand and pointed me to a file with—I kid you not—about 100 images. How do you respond to such a bombardment without being rude or giving up hours of your life?
Name withheld by request

A. Gone are the days when a person could show you only the three baby pics he was able to wedge into his wallet. Thanks to the advent of the handheld device, it’s no longer safe to walk down the street without the possibility that a person will corner you into looking at the last thousand photos of Baby Cutie-Pie. The next time it happens, consider this three-step approach: (1) Look at a picture or two. (2) Express your appreciation. And (3) say you wish you could look at every last pixel but you’re running late and have to dash.

If the ambush happens in a place you can’t depart from (like a dinner party), follow steps one and two, then gently but firmly hand the gadget back, all the while reiterating how adorable little Coco is and then changing the topic and inviting other people to join in. Once you open up the conversation, Mr. Overshare will have a harder time keeping you trapped in his own personal baby bubble.


—Julie Rottenberg

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