The Lower Brain: Am I A Facebook Jerk?


Photo: Chip Somodevilla [Getty Images]

I live in a small town and have a small group of friends and acquaintances. The other day I went on Facebook and posted this pissed-off status about how this person I know was being ignorant as hell. I didn’t identify her or anything. I didn’t even say she was a she.  Only reason I’m friends with her on Facebook is because we worked at the same company five years ago and we have actual friends in common. I didn’t know she spewed such shitty beliefs until a few years back and by then it felt too late. I just didn’t want to deal with her reaction if I actually unfriended her. She’s not the most even-keeled type. I guess maybe I’m not either, but if somebody doesn’t like me, I just stop engaging. 

 Anyway, she saw my status and decided it was about her. I guess I ought to give her credit for that. Then wrote this mean comment underneath it. Then she wrote a bunch of nasty shit about me (she even tagged me) on her own wall. I wasn’t vicious and I didn’t cuss her out even though I wanted to. She just kept commenting on my page, saying everything from I’m a bad boyfriend to I’ll be a bad father one day to chivalry is dead, blah blah blah. Finally, I just blocked her. I’ve never blocked anybody before. Am I just an asshole?

– I Might Be A Jerk But I’m Not Sure

Photo: Norberto Duarte [Getty Images]

Dear IMBAJBINS:

You don’t sound like an asshole to me. If you’re telling me the truth – and I have no reason or evidence to believe you aren’t, so let’s proceed – it sounds like you were annoyed by this woman’s espousing of a certain belief system that clashes with your own, one that you find morally offensive or at least quite stupid. You made a general statement about folks who believe whatever she does. And she recognized a kernel of truth in whatever you said, and it rankled her, so she lashed out.

If you were poking at her on purpose to get a rise out of her, my response would be different. But you weren’t. And that’s key.

I’ve been sub-tweeted and all that Internet passive-aggressive (or aggressive-aggressive) jazz. It doesn’t feel great but the best thing to do is not to respond at all. However, I understand the temptation and haven’t always been able to resist it in the past, so I get where this lady is coming from.

But I’ve done what you did, too. Again, the best thing to do is NOT to do such a thing, but live and learn, right? It’s a semi-socially acceptable way to yell into the void without directly yelling at a person. I did it just the other day and, as happened with you, somebody got so mad at me that they flipped out for about an hour, writing insult after insult.

In my view, the thing to do was to acknowledge the person’s direct response with one of my own and then let it ride. Sounds like you did as well, and then you saw fit to block her, which is your choice. It’ll probably be less of a headache for you now, and that’s good. Best if you both don’t engage.

If you run into her and she wants to give you a piece of her mind, I’d say keep on walking. Or you might try saying, “I’d prefer not to chat” or “I’m busy right now, you have a good day” or some variation thereof. Be brief, be clear, be polite, move on.

You may not like her. You may find her views abhorrent or simply incorrect. But I’m sure you don’t wish her some terrible ill. I’m not saying you’re going to invite her to Thanksgiving. I’m just saying you still likely recognize that she has some intrinsic worth as a person. It doesn’t sound like this is some kind of blood feud. Just sounds like you think she’s a jerk. And she thinks you’re a jerk, but that’s not your business or your problem. Life is too short to waste time on folks you don’t need in your life anyway.



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