Dear Amy: My extended family members prefer to communicate through texting. Group texts are routinely over 500 words long.
Full-blown fights and disagreements are communicated through texting.
If I telephone someone because I don’t enjoy typing on the phone, they won’t answer.
I recently found out that a family member had COVID. I learned this through a posting on Facebook.
When I responded to the Facebook post by saying I hope everyone gets better soon, I was yelled at by text for not texting my well wishes!
Am I obsolete? Is this normal?
I can’t take these text fights anymore, and my husband is so frustrated that he wants to end all communication.
I am OK with texting to a degree — you know: “Meet you at 10,” “Thank you for the gift,” etc., but long and drawn-out text chains about important issues is leading to more division and hostility.
What is the best way to deal with this?
Dear Frustrated: You seem to assume that whoever yells at you the loudest is correct. That might be the norm in your family but, generally if someone posts on Facebook, then a response to that posting is also appropriate on Facebook.
Regardless of the medium, if you don’t want to be yelled at or included in group fights among extended family members, then leave the room.
Just — slip away.
Group texts can be extremely disruptive, as your phone blows up, sometimes through the night. Group texts can also lead to misunderstandings, because people often seem to type faster than they think.
You can leave this virtual family reunion by doing a search on “how to leave a group text,” and follow the instructions for your device.
If you choose to do this, yes, you will miss out on some of your family’s roundelays, gossip, updates, and fights. 500-word screeds might pass among family members, decrying your choice and accusing you of being a Luddite.
You won’t care, because you won’t know about these things.
Stay on Facebook if that works for you, and text or call individual family members that you want to stay in touch with. Also, send postcards, letters, telegrams or ice cream cakes. Communicate with others the way you want to.
Dear Amy: I am a female senior citizen.
I’m active and slim, and I have a healthy diet.
When I attend family events, there is always plenty of food to be enjoyed by all.
My problem is that the obese women in my family like to make comments about my plate of food.
They say things like, “Is that all you’re eating? No wonder you’re so skinny.”
Then everyone who heard the comment will laugh or add another comment.
I find this annoying and hurtful.
Why does no one defend me?
If I commented on an obese person’s plate and said, “You’re eating all that? No wonder you’re obese!” I would be vilified, while she would get defended.
I don’t understand the double standard.
What would be a good comeback that would put a stop to this without causing harm?
— Stop Judging Me
Dear Judging: You might set a better example for the others in your family if you didn’t also consistently describe them only by their body type.
I realize this runs counter to your overall point, but when another person calls you “skinny,” I think there is a possibility that she believes she is complimenting you.
That’s because in our cultural vernacular, “skinny” is, for many, still the ideal.
All the same, you don’t want people to comment on your food choices and your body shape — and you are absolutely correct to call out the double standard when it comes to comments.
Don’t assume that you need defending, however. You can take care of yourself.
If this happens again, you could say, “I have an idea — how about we all agree not to comment on each other’s food choices and body size? Let’s just enjoy our meal and the fact that we can be together.”
Dear Amy: “Disgusted” wrote to you asking what to do about her drunken friend.
When she sees her own actions, mouth open, drooling food down her front or falling down drunk, it may be just the wake-up call she needs.
It worked for a friend.
— Been There
Dear Been There: “Disgusted” had already shamed her friend. The friend had already been to rehab. I don’t think she needed a “wake-up call” as much as clear boundaries, TLC, and professional help.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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