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Ask Amy

Friend worries about racy FB profile pic

Q. A friend and former co-worker recently changed her Facebook profile picture to a full body shot of herself lying in bed, wearing a camisole and panties and staring seductively up into the camera. Although all the essential things are covered up, the tone is pretty obvious.

This is not the first time she has done this; in fact many of her pictures are selfies in various states of undress. She’s the same age as me, and doing well in school for a future career in a highly respected medical field.

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Given the nature of the Internet, these photos will almost certainly come back to haunt her later. On a deeper level, I’m concerned this might be a cry for the wrong type of attention. I worry that she must be hurting on some level and correcting for it in an ultimately self-detrimental manner.

It would almost certainly be condescending of me to say this to her; we’re not terribly close anymore. Is there a tactful way I can address my concerns with her, or should I just trust she can take care of herself?

A. Facebook is by nature a public medium that invites reaction. I have seen people “comment” about photos: “I can’t believe you posted this” or “You should take this down.”

Given that you are no longer close with this woman, you are in the perfect position to at least express your views to her, without worrying about the impact on your (distant) relationship. To avoid embarrassing her you could do this through a private message: “I worry about the racy photos you post because I think they could come back to haunt you in unintended ways.”

Your analysis of her motivations may be correct, but you should keep this theory to yourself.

Q. I am a 20-year-old in a transitional time in my life. As I get older, it has become apparent that some of the friendships I have held onto are toxic.

I come to you with two issues: drinking and money. Many people my age drink. The results can be frightening. Last weekend I was at a party where a guy “friend” of mine was being super-protective of a girl he had brought with him. He didn’t want her to talk to another guy. One guy didn’t like this and got angry. Then my “friend” punched a hole in the wall and threatened to kill himself in front of me and my boyfriend. We calmed him down, but I don’t want to be around this heavy drinking anymore.

I come from a financially stable and supportive family, whereas many of my friends do not. They sometimes respond by teasing, making angry remarks and mooching.

One of my friends asked to keep a pair of pants I had left at her house. When I said “no” and asked for them back, she “lost” them. Eventually, after I had gotten angry, I got my pants back, but then she hit me up for money.

How do I set up boundaries or lose these people as friends?

A. This is a fairly common issue at your age and stage. People mature at different rates. Some of your cohorts will settle down eventually, while others will continue to binge drink and act out and — figuratively or actually — punch holes in walls.

You cannot necessarily control or even influence these people. You can only distance yourself from people who deplete and/or frighten you and move toward people who share your more stable and mature way of life. People who use or abuse you (or others) don’t get to hang out with you.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@tribune.com. Follow her on Twitter @askingamy .
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