Dear Jessica – a social media etiquette dilemma

I have a friend who has an annoying habit of removing my comments from her posts on Facebook, when they don’t conform to the response she was hoping for or expecting.

The first time she did it, I genuinely didn’t know what was going on.  She had posted a link to a news article about a coup in Turkey, with a simple comment indicating her sadness at the news. For some reason, the coup had already gripped my attention and I had been avidly reading news and analysis of it for the last couple of days, so responded with links to three different articles which I had found to be interesting reading, and which I thought she may like to read.  I then carried on scrolling through my news feed and looking at posts from other friends.

A few hours later another friend commented on the Turkey post and I noticed, with great surprise, that the three links I had posted had vanished.  After a few minutes of scratching my head about what could have happened to them, I came to the only possible conclusion – she must have removed them.  But it just seemed such an odd thing to do, and so out of character, that I found myself compelled to message her to ask if she had removed them and if so, why.

She confirmed she had indeed removed the comments and that she’d done it because, there being three of them, she felt that I had “hijacked” her post with my own opinions, rather than understanding the fact that she simply wanted to express her sadness at reading about such turmoil taking place in a country she had recently visited, and to whose people she had particularly warmed.  It seemed the only comments she really had wanted to see in response, were those of a sympathetic nature – or, in my more uncharitable reading of the situation (I was annoyed at her behaviour and so was not feeling particularly charitable) it seemed what she was really looking for was a validation of her own feelings, rather than any actual empathy with the people of Turkey.  She certainly didn’t seem interested in actually trying to understand or discuss the situation.

I did accept, though, that three comments probably had been a bit overenthusiastic – I am not completely blind to my own faults and I can see how my occasional tendency to react too quickly and volubly to friends’ posts can prove annoying in the extreme.  So I agreed to be a bit more circumspect in future and nothing more was said about it.

But now she’s gone and done it again.  She posted a link to a “Brexit yoga” video which, while very cleverly scripted and therefore faintly amusing, has an underlying theme which I found particularly insulting, peddling the same old tired lines about Brexit being an expression of rising nationalism and an unwillingness to pay for Greek debt.  But rather than responding, as I was tempted to do, with a breakdown of every way in which the video was insulting, offensive and just plain ignorant, I chose to respond with humour.  So I posted a link to Dominic Frisby’s excellent “17 million fuck offs” song about Brexit.  If she wants to post Brexit-related stuff that she finds funny, I figured, I’ll do the same in response.

And quick as a flash, she deleted it.  No response, no message to tell me she was going to remove it – she simply removed it.

And I found myself wondering what happened to the Daily Mash’s wonderful six-year-old agony aunt, Holly, who I felt certain would be able to provide the perfect advice as to how to respond to such a situation.  Sadly Holly doesn’t appear to be working for the Daily Mash any longer as I can’t find any recent advice columns from her, but I decided instead to write to my own six-year-old correspondent, Jessica.

Dear Jessica

My friend keeps posting political stuff on Facebook and then removing any comments that threaten the sanctity of her echo chamber.  Should I continue to call her out on it, or just pretend I haven’t noticed and let it go?

Yours, Politics-addict

Dear Politics-addict

It sounds like your friend needs to learn to share.  Johnny Simkins recently brought in a bag of sweets that his mummy had given him to share with the class but then he decided to keep most of them for himself and only gave out one each to Lucy and Jamie, and that was only after they sucked up to him by telling him how much they liked his new Blaster Gun.  I think it’s naff and I told him so.  And then I went and used my lunch money to buy my own sweets.

Hope that helps


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