DAME’s Friendkeeper tells us how to handle a friend’s social media TMI and put the kibosh on a well-meaning makeover we don’t want.
One of my close in-real-life friends is also a social media friend. She’s been going through a lot of stuff in the past year and I really feel for her, but I also think she says way too much personal stuff on Facebook. Like stuff about fighting with her husband and her kid’s learning issue and a teacher she hates—and it comes across as her being a little off the hinges, not to mention whiney. I actually feel weirdly insulted that she talks to me about these things and I take the time to listen and help and then she still feels the need to blab them to all 900 of her “friends.” Anyway, I wonder if there’s anything I can do other than hide her.
Plugging My Ears
I think social media is different for everyone. There are people who use it for career networking, others who use it for self-promotion, and still others who use it simply to post pictures of their dogs, who, though it may seem like they always look the same, continue to astound the person’s audience with new levels of cuteness. Now we’ve got your friend who uses it as another ear—or 900 ears, or, actually, 1,800 ears assuming none of her friends is Vincent van Gogh—and that type of posting invariably rubs some people the wrong way. I’m always fascinated when someone posts something that I think is super negative or humorless whining and I see the “likes” popping up. Same goes for the endless selfie posters. It’s not my thing, but someone else—or many others—is liking it! With your friend it sounds like she’s a little desperate, and maybe she just needs a lot more help or reassurance or, and this goes for a lot of people, attention. You can hide her, that’s fine. I don’t think your help is any less valued by your friend because she chooses the crowd-sourcing branch of psychotherapy. And hopefully this is a bad phase she’s in and it will end. I might say something to her about the dangers of posting rants online—no matter how careful you think you’re being security wise, it’s there and you should assume that the wrong person can see it. I personally think everyone should look at social media as publicly publishing something, and I think one does need to be wary about what they’re putting out there in the ether, whatever their motives.
Let me start by saying I’m not a bad-looking person. I may not be turning every head on the street, but overall I think I’m doing okay, and more importantly, for the most part, I feel pretty good about myself. Until I hang out with my friend…I’ll call her Sara. Sara seems to think my appearance could use some work. Every time we’re together she gives me unwanted suggestions about how I could style my hair (what’s wrong with my bob?), what lipstick would look good on me (I don’t wear lipstick), and which kind of shoes would make me seem taller (I’m 5’2” and proud of it). She’s also offered to go shopping with me, and though I have yet to take her up on the proposal, I imagine it would be like spending an afternoon with Clinton and Stacy in my own personal What Not to Wear hell. I know she’s not doing it maliciously, but seriously, what the heck? Does she think she’s doing it for my own good? Is she worried my lack of “hotness” is bringing down her game? And regardless of why she’s doing it, how do I get her to stop? Please help before I shave my eyebrows in protest.
Don’t Make Me Over
This is funny. A few weeks ago, I was out with a couple of friends of mine, one of them is a beauty editor, another is a book editor whose idea of a beauty product is Carmex. After the second glass of wine the beauty editor started making suggestions to the book editor—these involved a double-process hair color, eyebrow wax, and some kind of rejuvenating oxygen facial. The book editor looked her in the eye and said, “No, thank you!” I didn’t think much about it till I got your letter but now I realize this is an epidemic. Of course it drives you nuts. How would your friend feel if you told her she should read The New Republic and everything by James Joyce because then she’d appear smarter? The underlying message, though she means well, is “You’re not enough” and it’s offensive. I’m sure she isn’t worried about your looks bringing her down, I think some people just can’t help it. My dad is like that. Me: Dad, I had this giant bump on my head and I used this salve and now it’s gone! Dad: Next time you should use this other thing! Anyway, I digress. I understand if a doctor friend suggests you check out a suspicious mole, but there is nothing inherently life threatening about overgrown eyebrows. And I would just tell her like that. You appreciate her interest but if you want to make yourself over you’ll go on Rachael Ray and get it done before eight million people with your adoring husband standing by sobbing. That’s what I’d do.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
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