Proper Facebook Etiquette

#1037 Family: What’s the worst that could happen?…

Sunday 16th August, 2009

Dear Mariann,

My half brother is 32. He moved back home after our younger sister turned into a teenage wildcat and wanted all the attention. He is responsible, thoughtful and never without advice. Even when you do not want or need it. He is also an accountant and an absolute bore.

I am independent, live far away from home and find my family selfish and annoying. My sister sent me a message on Facebook (when she was drunk) and told me that I should come home and start talking to them again. I know that my half brother would impose his views on me and take an instant dislike to my lifestyle, friends and boyfriend. As he is trying to be the man of the house.

My main concern is that he will contact me soon as I know that he is also on Facebook. I really wouldn’t mind if I never heard from my family again. What do you think I should do? Should I feel guilty?

Maybe you’re overthinking this situation. Looking at the words that you sent to me there’s obvious too-ing and fro-ing of where your responsibilities should lie and, more appropriately, how you should asuage your guilt for feeling that you ‘never want to see your family again’. If you are looking for solidarity and approval that it’s OK for you to pursue your life as separate from your family, ask yourself why?

Perhaps you’re not as happy with the extended absence from your family as you make out. Your half brother sounds like a ‘nice chap’ and seems straight forward enough – well he is an accountant afterall. Just how bad could he be? Just because he is prepared to return home and act the responsible one, does not necessarily make him so boring and overbearing that you need cut yourself off from everyone forever.

My sense is that, whilst you have made the physical move, you have not offered your family full disclosure of your feelings and, thus, still retain some emotional ties. This is one of the reasons why it feels to you that They are intruding on Your life. And here there is the possibility that they could contact your spontaneously on Facebook.

There are procedures that you can put in place. If you really seek to separate yourself from family you can ‘block this user’ via your Privacy Settings. I would caution you against this action. Any ‘blocking’ would have to include all your family and associated friends, as just blocking your half brother would still mean that you can be tracked down by other members of your kin. Just as you sister has done.

Accountants may be ‘bores’, but I suspect that he is not stupid. And unless he’s done something that you really disprove of (which you have not revealed in your message) the only mistake he makes is to be an accountant, a bore and over-opinionated. He sounds like perfect company for a Come Dine with Me dinner party. Perhaps you should invite him round?

There are going to be LOTS of people who get on your wick in your life and you feel that you want to move as far away from as possible. Chances are some are even within you Facebook network right now (may I suggest a friend cull, as you look and de-friend some of these characters?)

Your half brother has not committed a criminal act, is not so obnoxious that people can’t bear to be around him (he lives afterall with the rest of your clan) and he’s taken the time and effort to support other members of your family when they need it. Surely he deserves your thanks and respect? Surely You should be contacting him? And not just by Facebook, but a voice to voice phone call may do wonders for both your egos and build a few bridges.

Your family are, after all, for life.

The unpalatable truth is facing up to ‘the worst that could happen’. You’re being deliberately evasive and have put into motion renewed complications for contact and/or continued separation from family life. As your sister has already sent you a message, perhaps you should respond and be honest – with yourself and with your family. Your life will change the moment you stop finding fault with others and let yourself learn to love your home life. Anyone who claims that they ‘really wouldn’t mind if…’ usually mean the exact opposite.

Of course your family may exist as a completely disagreeable (Brady, *shudders*) bunch. Living somewhere in the back beyond with only the sheep and hills for company. Then it’s unlikely that they get broadband or have a wireless connection. So you don’t have to do anything to your Facebook account to risk seeing them ever again. Just hope that the Government’s plan for a Digital Britain are curtailed and/or BT never provide a reliable broadband service.

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