My mother-in-law “Monica” has discovered social media. Now, nothing is sacred. Everything my husband and I do or say goes up on Facebook and Twitter (that's right - not "or", "and"!). Everything my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law do ends up there, too. The grandchildren (almost all of them teenagers) have blocked her from their accounts and have all but stopped talking to her about anything because she posts about them on her social media, too.
Monica says it is her “right as a mother and a grandmother” to brag about her children and grandchildren, but we are arguing for our right to privacy! It’s one thing to post about an award at school or a great catch made at a Little League game, but Monica posts about so much more – my fourteen year old son’s bout with diarrhea; my niece’s tearful break-up with her first boyfriend (including the details of how she saw him kissing another girl); and worst of all, the results of my brother-in-law’s colonoscopy! She has NO FILTERS!
We have tried to talk with Monica as a family, but she refuses to edit the information she posts, so we have told her she would simply be cut off from the information supply chain; that we will tell her nothing we would not want posted on the billboard in the center of town. This helped until Monica realized she could glean information from the grandchildren’s social media pages, which caused them all to block her (when simply unfriending her did not work). Monica demanded we tell our son to allow her access, but we are on his side on this one.
Monica has now taken to bad-mouthing me and the other spouses (but not her children) on her social media pages. I am trying to tune it out, but it is hard because this family feud is now the topic of town gossip. I just want my life back! Is there any way we can turn back the clock on all of this over-sharing on social media?
Dear Becoming Facebook-Phobic:
The backlash you are experiencing against social media is not uncommon, and it is a topic I find myself covering frequently. As more and more people start using sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit a lot of over-sharing is occurring and personal privacy is becoming a thing of the past. Since your mother-in-law refused to respect the privacy of other family members – after repeated warnings – you were within your rights to block her from the information source. It is sad that she felt the need to retaliate by airing the dirty laundry, but to most people this is a reflection on her, not you. Try to remember that and the next time the gossips pump you for information reply that you would prefer to keep the matter private, regardless of how Monica chooses to handle it. The problem with receiving gossip from a single source is that it gets repetitive and boring very quickly, and soon dries up like my garden in the August sun.
My larger concern here is the family dynamic with Monica. By cutting off all information from her you are essentially cutting her out of your lives. While this is an understandable reaction, it is not a healthy one. Social media sites allow you to adjust your settings so certain people cannot see everything you post. Yes, it can be a pain to have to adjust your settings for every status posted, so I suggest you and your family members resolve this matter by throwing Grandma a bone every now and then by posting directly to her wall. You can make your status updates invisible to her without unfriending her; this way you can control the information that she receives without worrying about what she will find on your page and maintain peace within the family all at the same time. I also think that Monica needs a new pastime; perhaps those close to her can suggest one.
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.