Sage Advice: Facebook Causes Shaky Friendship

By Amy Dickinson | February 12th, 2019

A woman is tired of being chastised for her social media choices


Dear Amy: I am in my 60s and have known “Sue” for more than 40 years.

Over the years, Sue has made several negative comments about some of my Facebook posts. For instance, one time I posted that I was sick. She called me to ask why I would put such a thing on FB. Another involved a joke that she didn’t think was funny.

Eventually I changed privacy settings so she couldn’t see my posts.

We also both belong to a school alumni Facebook group. Within the last few months she has criticized a couple of my comments to others in that group.

Neither of these comments had anything to do with her. In one, I commiserated with an alumni friend who talked about his shyness by noting that my son is also shy. I provided no other details. Sue reamed me out for “gossiping” about my son.

Sue refused to stop lecturing me, and I ended up telling her how angry I was about her intrusiveness and criticism.

I have never told Sue – or anyone else – what they should or shouldn’t post, and I have never received negative feedback from anyone else.

I realize that Facebook is not private, but are there any rules concerning critiquing the posts of others?

– One Less Friend

Dear One Less: The rules governing Facebook are the same rules that govern all human interchange: Understand that anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of public (or private) opinion.

Picture your FB alumni group as if you were all standing together at a cocktail party. Would you commiserate with a friend about his shyness, and mention your son’s similar challenges to the group? You probably would.

In that context, would “Sue” chastise you in front of others (or at all) concerning your benign choice to share? She probably wouldn’t.

Social media can facilitate lovely and compassionate kindness – inspiring people to be brave in their sharing and supportive in their responses. Social media also emboldens people to be mouthy, obnoxious and combative.

A wise person is as discreet and aware on social media as they are in real life.

And then there’s “Sue.” She called you out, she wouldn’t leave you alone and now you are no longer “friends” – in real life or online.

If you choose to critique her, do so privately.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2019 by Amy Dickinson

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