Dear Amy: The #SMEtiquette of Embarrassing Conversations

Dear Amy Embarrassing #SMEtiquette

Etiquette (2)

 

Even before Facebook, we had lots of opportunities to end up in embarrassing conversations, in front of our mom.

Of course, those opportunities are magnified now and the chance of your mom seeing the embarrassing conversation before you is definitely a twist.

Let me know what you think about this week’s question. And submit yours!

Dear Amy Embarrassing #SMEtiquette

Dear Amy:

What do you do when someone makes a really inappropriate comment on your Facebook wall – such as discussing masturbation or porn – and those aren’t topics you generally discuss there? Especially if, say, your mother is a part of the conversation?

I’m no prude, but aren’t some things just inappropriate to post on a friend’s Facebook conversation?

Sincerely,
Flustered Facebooker

Dear Flustered:

A lot of people act on Facebook exactly as they act in person, among close friends.

However, in real life, most people act somewhat differently when they’re with close friends than they do in groups of people they don’t know. Their language might be milder. They won’t broach certain topics, not knowing the sensibilities of the people around them.

It’s not self-censorship, it’s called being polite.

Yes, there are some things that are just inappropriate to post on a friend’s Facebook conversation, even if you would post them on your own Facebook conversation.

See, there’s the difference right there: Your Facebook wall is yours (well, and Facebook’s, but that’s another issue entirely). You can set the tone of conversation there. But if you want your friends to stay your friends, you should be respectful of the tone they set in their Facebook conversations.

So what do you do when someone is not respectful of the tone you set?

Say something. If this person is a friend, contact him backchannel and ask him to consider taking the comment down, if that’s what you want. If this person is truly a friend, he’ll understand and probably even apologize.

If this person is unwilling to back down, there are probably larger issues at play. If you are truly uncomfortable with what this person said, delete the comment yourself. You have full control over anything posted on your Facebook profile, in that you can delete anything (not that you should, usually, but that’s also another issue).

I don’t generally advocate deleting comments on Facebook, but when it is your profile and you are uncomfortable with the content of it, it is your right. Especially when mom’s part of the conversation and your friend steps over the line.

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8 comments
NancyDavis
NancyDavis

 I have been in the unfortunate dilemma of having to delete an inappropriate comment. My close friends know I have some serious heath problems, and I posted about having an appointment at a pain clinic. This got turned into comments about S&M clubs. My boyfriend took issue with the comments, since they were from a male he did not know. 


Even though the man who made the comments was kidding around, I felt it was prudent to take the comment down. I did this because I also felt it was not appropriate and I also did not wish to see a thread about health become one about sex.


On a related note, I have a friend who has now taken to posting about her sex life on Facebook. I have been mulling over how to bring up that she may find it funny, but I find it classless. My sex life is no one's business. It is certainly never fodder for Facebook. I know this person may think this is prudish, but I call it being an adult.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

It's an interesting dilemma. Especially if the comment(s) are from a friend (or friends) who are in a mutual group. Some things may be said in a jovial and very open manner in a group, but these don't translate well to a person's actual wall where other people are hanging out (and aren't privy to the openness of said group).

Of course, then that counters the whole "being transparent / authentic" angle - since, if the person wouldn't alter that openness offline, but do on a Facebook wall, doesn't that show them up in two different lights?

Good food for thought, miss!

Latest blog post: twitter

DonnaChaffins
DonnaChaffins

I've never had to delete a comment on Facebook, but wouldn't have any trouble doing so if it made "me" feel uncomfortable... although most of my friends probably wouldn't post something terribly inappropriate or mind deleting it themselves if I asked them to. :) I do think about what I post or even how I comment on FB though, not just because of my mom being on FB, but I actually do have some younger friends (we'll not get into whether they should be on FB to begin with), so I've found that I self-monitor sometimes.

wordwhacker
wordwhacker

I've been a "mom" on Facebook ever since I've been on Facebook, and I  think most moms on Facebook know from our own experience that people say really ridiculous things on Facebook. "I'm so embarrassed because my mom reads my Facebook" says more about the person saying it than the mom. The mom is probably like, "such ridiculous stuff on Facebook." But if the person is like, "that makes me uncomfortable," then he or she shouldn't be worry about what his or her mom -- or anyone else thinks -- and try to reign in the poster/commenter or hit the delete button. As you say, your Facebook profile belongs to you.

AmyVernon
AmyVernon moderator

@NancyDavis Exactly. Despite our Facebook wall being our place and we don't have to alter things to make others feel more comfortable if we don't want, there comes a point where it's being considerate of others. Sometimes intent doesn't matter - joking around in person is not as permanent as online. And yet people sometimes are MORE open online and more prone to making inappropriate jokes they'd never make in person.

As for your friend and her sex life, I agree. I don't really get it when people do that - but I think it's one of those phases some people go through. I'm guessing she doesn't have children, or else you could use that tack - imagine how she'd feel if she'd seen her parents posting about their sex lives when she was a kid, eh?

Thanks so much for reading!

Latest blog post: 24: The Day So Far

AmyVernon
AmyVernon moderator

@Danny Brown Absolutely. I think about this a whole lot. But I'm also extremely open about the fact that I treat my Facebook wall a little differently than I act in person. I swear a lot IRL, but I tend not to on Facebook. It's a deliberate choice - not to make myself seem holier than though, but because of how I feel about the written word.  I have dropped Fbombs on Facebook or Twitter, but in those cases people REALLY see how I feel because I use it so sparingly. It actually has the intended shocking effect.

In addition, on Facebook, we are around a whole bunch of other people. Part of it is being considerate of all these other people, who may not have the same feelings we do about language. I don't regard it as censoring myself for the sake of others, but rather being considerate of others. I am exactly the same person in real life as online, just with more swears. And everyone knows it.

There's a fine line here, absolutely. Thanks, Danny!

Latest blog post: 24: The Day So Far

AmyVernon
AmyVernon moderator

@DonnaChaffins I've only done it a handful of times, and I've always warned first. I've had a few friends who've deleted their comments before I've even had the chance to say anything, because they realized they went a bit too far. 

I think the main problem is that too many people don't bother thinking before they post. They feel as if they have the right to say whatever they want. To a degree, that's true. But just because you have the "right" doesn't mean that it is right to say it.

AmyVernon
AmyVernon moderator

@wordwhacker Definitely true. However, some of us have moms who are older and/or not as cool as you. :) And even if neither is the case, we sometimes don't feel comfortable with the same language and conversations around our moms if we know it's happening around our moms, you know? :)

But, in general, yes. What you said.