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    Miss Conduct

    Advice on Facebook: Do you have to censor yourself for your friends?

    Plus, inheriting spoiled food and a missing wedding invitation.

    Lucy Truman

    After posting a link on Facebook with a picture of a shirtless (not pantsless!) man, I got a message from a friend asking me to please take it down. She wrote that she doesn’t lock her office door to visit Facebook, and that if one of her young daughters had walked in and seen the picture she would be very upset. I don’t think I should have to censor my posts for this woman. What’s your advice?

    W.W. / Santa Barbara, California

    Really, W.W., how dare you not parent this random friend’s children for her! Facebook has age requirements for membership on the one hand and community standards on the other that generally keep it a PG-13 environment. If your friend doesn’t find her newsfeed to be appropriate for her children, it’s on her to manage that. A woman whose standards of modesty would keep her kids from seeing Aladdin before they’re 18 is going to have an awfully long To Censor list, but that’s hardly your problem.

    If this is someone you actually know — a work acquaintance or neighbor — you can send a tactful message telling her how to hide posts that she finds objectionable. If she’s one of those random people from your past, however, feel free to consign her back there with a click of “Unfriend.”

    My mother-in-law brings over a thick stew that is leftovers from her whole week and expired items so I can “give it to my children.” She freezes vegetables and defrosts them and thinks they’re OK to eat. I have told her many times I don’t want her grocery bag of items, and she asks me twice and then pleads with my husband to take it, and he says yes. My husband and I fight about it all the time because I am a stay-at-home mom and she comes from the next city over to give us rotten food and we have to pay to throw it away in Raynham.


    D.C. / Raynham

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    Stop. Breathe. This doesn’t have to be a struggle. I’m sorry your city doesn’t pay for trash removal, but you can’t be paying solely to get rid of the ToxiStew, so it’s not causing you financial hardship. Stop arguing with your mother-in-law, take the stew, toss it. If ToxiStew must be disposed of out of town, then it’s your husband’s job, because he gets out of the house every day. (Alternately, you could play hipster-homemaker and use ToxiStew as the foundation for some excellent compost in which you can ultimately grow your own, healthier vegetables.) If she asks whether the kids enjoyed it, you’ve got my permission to lie or tell the truth, whatever is temperamentally easier on you.

    My second cousin is getting married to one of my sister-in-law’s best friends. I received the save-the-date but have not received an actual wedding invitation. I don’t know what’s worse — doing nothing and them thinking that I’m blowing them off or asking them about it and making them feel awkward.

    E.M. / Portsmouth, New Hampshire

    Ask. You are in an unclear situation, and you are seeking clarification — this isn’t like hinting around to be given a “plus one.” Don’t worry about causing your friends grief. Your invitation was surely lost in the mail. However, if it turns out that they sent you a save-the-date and then decided not to invite you after all, then they deserve any discomfort the conversation might bring.


    Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.


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