To be blunt, one of my best friends is coming across as an absolute monster on social media. She is very overbearing politically — passive aggressively rude on other people's personal posts and constantly using her Facebook as a soapbox for this issue or that issue. All of this is her prerogative, of course, but it's making our mutual friends (who don't see her in real life very often) think she is this awful person, when I know that she is not. I love her to death, and I want to find a non-offensive way of communicating to her that it might be in her best interest ... if she toned it down a bit. How can I say this without being mean? Is it my job to say anything at all? After all, she and I are fine. Help!
Dear Concerned Friend,
First, yes. As her close friend, seeing both sides of the situation, you may be the only person who can tell her. Especially if she is going to find out in a positive way.
Imagine if this same friend was exiting the ladies room with her skirt tucked into her pantyhose in the back: What would you do? Imagine your friend leaving the house with lipstick on her tooth? Calling someone at a business function Mandy whose actual name was Mindy? What is your instinct? It's probably the same as mine and everybody else — tell her! Save her! Rush to help!
Currently, your friend is doing the social equivalent of walking around with her skirt in her pantyhose, and you've got to take her back into the ladies room and help fix it. Putting myself in your shoes, I would try this process:
1. Ask questions: Your friend may already be aware of how she is coming across and she might like it. Maybe Facebook is her way of expressing herself in a way that she otherwise couldn't express herself. So ask questions in order to find out where she is coming from.
2. Be specific: When you bring it up, she'll ask you, "Well, what do you mean?" and you want to be as clear as possible. "When you made that comment about all conservatives being X or all liberals being Y, I felt (insert feeling).” Being specific will give you two something concrete to talk about. Plus, people tend to become frustrated when examples are too vague/ambiguous.
3. Be kind: Conversations like these are an opportunity for two good friends to become two great friends. I asked a group of Ask Angela readers on Facebook about your questions and unanimously they said they didn't just want nice friends, they wanted honest friends, too. They did, however, include the caveat that nice and honest was their ideal combo. In your situation, she's more likely to hear and receive the message if it's being delivered in a way that she feels loved and in an environment in which she feels safe.
So, keep in mind she has the right to say whatever she wants on Facebook, but as her friend, you love her and want her to look good — and there is value in that.
Now, go! Get the lipstick off her teeth!
Reader questions: How does Doctrine and Covenants 121:43 apply to this situation? Would you tell your friend if he/she were a monster on social media? Let us know what you think.