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1 year ago
What to Do When Someone You Love Is Acting Like an A-Hole on Facebook

We’ve all been there: You’re on Facebook, liking your best friend's vacay pics, when suddenly your dad’s 10-paragraph rant about the refugee crisis pops up in front of you. Or maybe it’s your weird uncle’s affinity for reposting anti-choice memes or your sister’s play-by-play of a recent argument she had with your mom.

Regardless of the exact details, dealing with this kind of stuff is about as fun as a stomach flu on Thanksgiving Day. Sure, you could block the offending party and move on with your life...but you’re probably still not going to be psyched knowing that someone you love is putting a bunch of crap out there. Plus, they might eventually find out you blocked them, which wouldn't be pleasant.

But don't fret just yet—the good news is, you're not alone. 

“This is exceptionally common,” says clinical psychologist Suzana E. Flores, Psy.D., author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives. She adds that psychologists are being “flooded” with issues surrounding Facebook use. “Whether there’s an underlying or very direct message, people are either hurting themselves or others,” she says.

Since we're guessing you're a kind, caring person, you’re probably going to want to help shut down the crazy to avoid offending people. The best way to do it is with a face-to-face conversation, says clinical psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D., author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life.

But how you approach and handle that chat matters: Flores recommends coming into it armed with a few examples. Since the person you approach is likely to get defensive, she suggests broaching the topic in the most non-threatening way possible. Some examples: “When you post this, it makes me feel…” or “When you post something along these lines, it can be perceived as…”

If the person is posting about you (c’mon, Mom!), try this approach: “It’s because I respect you that I feel the need to be honest about how your posts affect me and how I believe they’re affecting you.” This makes it less blame-y, says Flores.

You should also set concrete boundaries about personal posts, like saying that, while you appreciate the thought behind the post celebrating the anniversary of your first period, you would prefer not seeing posts about your personal life in the future.

“Just avoid wording such as ‘you shouldn’t,’” says Flores. “Immediately people will come back with a defense.”

Another good tactic: Approach what you have to say with two positives and a critique (an old psychologist’s trick). You could say something like “Most of the time your posts are funny and I also like your positive posts, but there was one in particular that I felt was beneath you/didn’t seem like you.”

Of course, if the person is completely out of line and potentially harassing or defaming someone, Mayer says it’s important to point that out, too. (Gently, of course.)

RELATED: I Caught Someone Pretending to Be Me on the Internet

When you’re done with your chat, leave it alone. And if the Facebook noise continues, you might just have to woman up and block them after all. “We can’t control the thoughts and behaviors of others,” says Flores. “All you can do is say your piece and move on.”

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