I try to be open-minded and tolerant of everyone’s views. A longtime Hillary Clinton backer, I limit my political commentary to supporting my candidate, not trashing others. So am I wrong, or is it really rude for a rabid Bernie Bro to post Hillary-hostile links directly onto my Facebook page? What is an appropriate response to this?
J.M. / Somerville
Calm down. He left it as a sign of affection. It’s only his way of showing he cares!
Oh, wait, I’m sorry. I was thinking of cats who leave dead rodents on their humans’ doorsteps in the loving but condescending belief that we cannot acquire our own food. Such unwelcome offerings, such adorable motives. Your Facebook “friend” undoubtedly sees himself less as a badly socialized house pet and more as a Martin Luther, boldly nailing his theses to the doors of Wittenberg, but that’s his problem. Your Facebook page is your virtual living room, and just as in your real one, you get to set the tone and house rules. Dumping an unwelcome link directly on someone’s page is grossly disrespectful, end of story.
Delete the links with no comment and either unfriend or severely restrict the privileges of Mr. Linc Dumper. Feel free to write about the incident if you need to vent — you are under no obligation to keep this person’s bad behavior private for him. You’re under no obligation at all, in fact, so you can also delete, unfriend, and offer no explanation to anyone. (Especially Linc, who knows perfectly well why what he did was wrong, even if he pretends differently.)
If Linc is on the periphery of your in-person network, continue with business as usual. Should he bring up the incident, say that you felt that your virtual connection was interfering with your real one as neighbors, book club members, or what have you, so you ended it. Do not explain further, do not argue, and under no circumstances apologize. In the unlikely event that he apologizes, you can accept it without adding him back as a friend. Forgiveness doesn’t mean lack of consequences.
If Linc is a closer friend, relative, or colleague, then you need to address his behavior in the context of your entire relationship, of which I know nothing. However you deal with it, keep in mind that the political substance of your argument is not the point. This is not about Bernie versus Hillary. This is about the fact that Linc disrespected your boundaries. Do not allow him to derail the conversation. Linc would be 100 percent in the wrong socially even if he were 100 percent in the right factually.
Isn’t this endless electioneering awful? If you wanted to design a system to create maximum anger with the electoral process, you couldn’t do better than what we’ve got now. So here’s some further, unsolicited advice for all of us: Do a media blackout once a week. You’re not going to be any less informed if you unplug for 24 hours. Start a summer project that will keep your mind off the election — or at least give you a new angle on it. Find a space for a project you can control. Find a space for joy. And hang in there. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.