DEAR AMY: I recently got into a spat with my sister about Facebook. We’re both in our mid-20s. She is furious that I don’t add her Facebook friends to my own friend roster on FB, and that I deleted one of her friends over a year ago.
She says it’s “mean” and “rude,” but I tried to explain to her that my Facebook is very personal. I only have about 40 connections, and they’re all people I know personally.
It greatly upsets her that I won’t add her friends, even though I don’t know them well and don’t want them to see what’s going on in my life.
My sister has even retaliated to say she would delete my best friend from her connections. My best friend and I both agree that neither of us would care, since it’s her choice and “it’s only Facebook.”
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I think she’s overreacting, but maybe I don’t understand her perspective.
Is it really a social faux pas not to “friend” people you’ve only met once or twice? Should I just add her friends and then hunker down with my already top-notch privacy settings?
Social Network Awkwardness
DEAR AWKWARD: There is no “right” way to use Facebook. Many people use social media mainly for professional purposes, others are very locked down and private, while others post a stream of personal disclosure and observations for all the world to enjoy (or endure).
In my experience, despite their reputation for blurring public and private, users in your age group tend to be cautious about what they share, and judicious about whom they choose to include in their circles.
I don’t believe it is mean or rude to ignore a “friend request.” Some of these are automated.
Your sister doesn’t get to tell you how to have your own relationships – virtually or IRL. If she wants to retaliate to punish you, then yes – I agree that you should tell her to have at it.
DEAR AMY: My friend and I need your advice regarding her husband “Greg.” We are all part of a group of couples that meets frequently. Over the past year, one of the women in the group, “Susan,” started to monopolize Greg’s time during dinner. She tries to sit next to him and corners him for long private conversations. My friend brought this up with her husband but he accused her of being “too controlling.”
This past weekend I noticed that Susan and Greg were in the kitchen while the rest of us were eating in the dining room. She was playing him a music video on her phone. Susan does not have similar encounters with other people in the group. My friend feels hurt and insecure.
Susan’s husband seems oblivious. Greg is otherwise a devoted dad and a loving husband. I don’t know what to tell my friend. Should she bring it up again with Greg, even if it makes him mad? Should she approach Susan? Ignore it?
DEAR OBSERVER: I’m assuming that your friend is not unilaterally jealous. She might be overreacting to this attention, but in a healthy marriage, partners should be sensitive to one another’s occasional freak-outs and insecurities – even if they seem irrational. Because “Greg” knows that this private attention bothers his wife, his kindest response when “Susan” is sharing a video with him should be, “Oh – my wife would love this. Honey – have you seen this one?” This gesture would be a loving response.
If your friend’s Spidey sense tells her that something noxious is brewing, she should raise this again with her husband and also with Susan. She should say, honestly, “It bothers me when you pull Greg aside from the rest of the group. I feel quite excluded and would appreciate it if you stopped doing that when we’re all together.”
DEAR AMY: Regarding the letter from “Disappointed Dad,” I’ll tell you how to get adult children to pay attention to neglected parents. Send the kids a holiday card saying that the parents have redone their estate plan and are leaving everything to St. Jude’s. No threats. Just the “good news.” Guaranteed to work.
DEAR PARENT: I disagree, but thank you for offering your idea.
Write Amy Dickinson at email@example.com.