Ask Amy: Facebook forces friendship fractures
Dear Readers: Every year during this time I step away from my column to work on other creative projects. I hope you enjoy these “Best Of” Q&A from 10 years ago. Today’s topic is: “Friending.”
I also invite readers to subscribe to my weekly “Asking Amy” newsletter, at Amydickinson.substack.com, where I post advice, as well as commentary about what I’m reading, watching, and listening to.
I’ll be back with fresh Q&A next week.
Dear Amy: More than seven months have passed since my boyfriend of almost a year and I broke up. Since that time, he has dated two other women. He has been with his current girlfriend for several months.
I'm also seeing someone.
I understand a certain amount of trash-talking occurs after a breakup, but I feel he's been inappropriate and I'm not sure how to handle it.
I've refrained from airing what I disliked about our relationship. He, on the other hand, has talked to my current boyfriend about why he shouldn't date me and recently publicly bashed me on his Facebook page.
This includes calling me a "constant embarrassment," mentioning a much-regretted trip to the hospital due to an alcohol overdose (which happened a long time ago).
He is publicly exaggerating events from my past. I sent him a cordial message expressing how this post has hurt my feelings and is inappropriate, and he hasn't responded or taken action to delete this very public post. What should I do?
Dear Facebooked: I shared your query with Nicky Colaco, a representative of Facebook, who noted that Facebook's terms of service specify that users should not post offensive or malicious content.
"The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving people the freedom to express their opinions and viewpoints, even those that may be controversial to some, and respecting the rights and feelings of others," Colaco wrote.
"We encourage people to let us know when they see something they think might violate our standards. Our team of investigators reviews and takes action on reported content according to our policies."
Your boyfriend's postings qualify as malicious, in my view. You can report this by clicking the "Report" button on the Facebook page, block him on Facebook and have no further contact with him.
Dear Amy: I would like some advice about how to let friends and family know that I would not like any pictures of my family posted on Facebook or any other social networking site. What the heck is the best way to do this without sounding like a freak?
Dear Concerned: I remember back at the dawn of Facebook (say, two or three years ago) when I advocated in this space for the concept of "permission" regarding the posting of photos.
Oh, how young and naive I was.
Now that I’ve been active Facebook both personally and professionally, I know better.
By all means, ask people in your circle not to post photos of your family on social networking sites.
Your friends won't think you're a freak; they'll just think you're being unrealistic.
The people in your personal circle of actual "friends" may go to great lengths to respect your wishes, but then there are your kids' friends; their teammates; their teammates' moms and their teammate's mom's sister-in-law, Brenda, who took some awesome pictures of the kids during their last game and has posted and "tagged" all the children in the photos.
Join these social networking sites yourself. This is the best way to patrol what photos are floating around.
Then you can attempt to control them by removing "tags" or asking people to pull photos down. You have the right, as well as the parental responsibility) to do this.
Dear Amy: I read the letter from "Helpful Grandma," the grandparent whose grandchildren posted questionable photos on Facebook.
I remembered my grandmother's advice: If I made a funny face or stuck my tongue out, she told me that if I kept it up, my face would freeze that way – forever. This was decades before the internet existed. Now that we have Facebook, it turns out she was right! How prophetic.
– Prophetic Wisdom
Dear Prophetic: Facebook has been around long enough now that I think we're starting to see a cohort of early adopters who are confronting evidence of their young foolishness. And how much do we hate to say, "We told you so"? (Not very much.)
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