Dear readers: Every year during this time I move away from my column to work on other creative projects. Hope you enjoy these “Best of” questions and answers (edited) from 10 years ago.
Today’s topic is: Non-social media.
I also invite readers to subscribe to my weekly “Asking Amy” newsletter, at Amydickinson.substack.com, where I post my favorite questions and answers, as well as comments on what I read, see, and hear.
I’ll be back with new columns after next week.
Dear Amy: I have known the father and stepmother of a dear friend for many years. Recently, my friend’s father made me a friend on Facebook. At first I was happy, but he writes rants about almost everything I post and has used obscene language (something “coded”).
It is really strange and unsettling. I asked him not to use the language, and he seems to have backed down a bit, but he spends too much time on Facebook and too much time “challenging” me on political and religious issues.
Without offending my friend, how can I stop him?
Dear Facebooked: You have tried to influence this person to behave differently, but he is an adult and can do whatever he pleases. You also can.
You could “unfriend” or “block” him, but if you think this would cause additional annoyance, you could limit his access to your posts.
You two would still be Facebook friends, but if he doesn’t see your posts, he won’t have much to press against.
I don’t think there is any reason to involve your (real) friend in this, unless you are concerned about your father’s health. If this man contacts you and asks why he doesn’t see all of your updates, be honest and say that his answers upset you. Then accept the fact that you may not like this reaction.
Dear Amy: My daughter-in-law “Wendy” uses Facebook to complain about her job, her boss, how much she feels cheated on being a working mother and even the shortcomings of her new husband (my son), who apparently did not buy her a generous gift of Mother’s Day.
These posts create a kind of online personality that makes her look vicious, and she really isn’t. But the really embarrassing part is that she is a Facebook “friend” with all my family members, and trust me, her posts are a not-too-flattering gossip topic.
I have mentioned to my son a few times when his posts have become offensive and he is trying to deal with it offline.
Dear concerned: When your daughter-in-law posts your complaints, selfishness or negativity on the public notice board that is Facebook, you risk ruining your personal and professional reputation. And that’s your business.
When their whining becomes familiar territory, that’s your business.
A polite and respectful “notice” (to her) is in order, and then you should go back, adjust your settings (both metaphorically and on Facebook), and stop reading her posts.
Dear Amy: My father’s policy is at odds with the rest of the family.
Keep sending us hateful and extreme articles. We keep asking him to stop, but when he drinks too much (which is almost every night) he sends us articles with messages like: “You won’t be so hard on me after reading this factual article” ‘t).
I asked him to stop sending me political emails, but then he doesn’t speak to me for days.
Sometimes he doesn’t remember sending me anything (for drinking) and his feelings are hurt because he has no idea why I’m so hard on him. I try to take the right path, but I won’t let it intimidate me either. What can I do to prevent it from bothering me, in addition to eliminating it from my life?
Dear daughter: You think it is an offensive or spam email, but I think it is about your father’s drinking. You claim that your drinking is excessive enough that you do things you don’t remember doing, so your feelings get hurt when you (or others) react to your actions.
You should automatically delete messages sent to you or have an email sent directly to your “spam” folder for regular review.
Has anyone in your family asked your father to help you stop drinking? You can anticipate denial and / or belligerence when you do, which is not much different from how it relates to you anyway.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.