Make It Stop: “My Coworker ‘Negs’ Me On Social Media”

Make It Stop is a new weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — the blogger behind Shmitten Kitten and Shlooby Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.

First up, we have a woman whose passive aggressive coworker who makes snide remarks on social media: 

I have a coworker who “negs” me on social media. She’s not particularly friendly at work, but it’s online where her passive aggressive behavior comes out. I’ll make jokes on Twitter or Facebook and she’ll respond as if I’m serious, making little comments that have at this point gotten the attention of my friends. I want to unfriend/unfollow/block this woman, but I work with her and have to see her every day. Should I say something or just ignore it?

Tom Hanks famously said in the seminal war documentary, “A League of Their Own”: “There’s no crying in baseball.” Well, there’s no loyalty in social media. If I’m bored, irritated, or offended by someone’s content, THEY’RE OUT. My newsfeed is my party and everyone who makes an appearance is a guest. And sometimes people need to get kicked out. Life’s too short to roll your eyes and crinkle your nose when you’re taking a peek at your Twitter feed in line at Chipotle. My newsfeeds and timelines are for informative news articles, a carefully curated selection of babies and pets, and funny status updates. Anything else gets the chop.

For the record, this woman sounds like a nightmare. She’s harassing you. While you can’t control what she posts, you can control if you expose yourself to what she posts. And tolerating her social media tomfoolery is not in your job description.

Quick caveat: If you feel like she’s posted anything truly unprofessional, print out every instance you can find. Cover your bases should she ever escalate her online attacks and you need to involve your company’s HR department. It’s best to be prepared and document everything.

But if you just want her to go away, there’s good news: it’s never been easier to give someone a social media fade out. You have my permission to block her upside down, backwards and sideways. Hell, I block people all the time.

Here’s a list of people I’ve blocked on social media:

  • Ex-boyfriends who have pissed me off (duh)
  • Randoms I went to high school with
  • Local celebrities who overshare
  • A college roommate I never liked
  • An acquaintance from middle school who constantly tagged me in chain letter-y posts (why do people do this!?)
  • My second cousin who I only met once and started liking and commenting on every status update I posted

I was like Oprah with it. “You’re blocked! And you’re blocked! And you’re blocked!” I’ve blocked my own family members! I’m cold like that. Once you start, you’ll see how easy it is and how much better you’ll feel. Seriously, it feels better than taking off your bra at the end of a long day.

As for confronting her about her poor behavior, I’d be wary. She’s already shown bad judgement on several occasions, so proceed with caution. While it’s possible that she will see the error of her ways after a heart-to-heart in the office breakroom, it can also backfire and create more havoc if she tries to justify herself. And you don’t want to police her newsfeed or coach her on online etiquette, you want it out of your face. Just block her. Don’t worry about your co-workers feelings as she doesn’t care about yours — or you wouldn’t be in this pickle!

If she confronts you about blocking her, just shrug and say that you aren’t on social media much anymore. The less you say, the better. Don’t make any long-winded excuses, just stick to your line about not being online much and don’t make it anymore dramatic than it needs to be.

Good luck and happy blocking.

My boyfriend’s mom has a tendency to drink too much at family functions. I’ve been with him for four years, so I’ve seen the full spectrum of this behavior. Lately when she gets drunk she asks me when we are going to get married and have kids. She does this in front of other family members and it’s extremely awkward for me. The thing is, my boyfriend and I ARE thinking we will get married some day, but we don’t even live together yet so her enthusiasm is kind of rushing things. I don’t know whether I should talk to her about it, because I’m not sure it’ll due any good as soon as she has some drinks.

I’ve met women like this. Once you’re in a relationship, they feel entitled to information about the direction you’re heading in. At first I thought it was generational thing, but lately my girlfriends have been asking me the same kind of questions: “Where is your relationship going? Are you two going to move in together? Do you think you’re going to get married? What’s the future here?”

It’s rude. Does your boyfriend’s mother think she’s being rude? No, she thinks she’s being helpful. She thinks she’s pushing things along, like it’s something that you haven’t thought about. You have to nip this crap in the bud because this type of person will never stop asking inappropriate questions and offering her unsolicited opinion. Let’s play this out:

You: We’re engaged!
Boyfriend’s Mom:When’s the wedding? I don’t like the date.

You: We’re married!
Boyfriend’s Mom:When are you having children? I don’t think you should wait to have kids.

You: We have a child!
Boyfriend’s Mom:When are you having another one? I think the kid should have a sibling.

You In 25 Years: Our kid is in a serious relationship!
Boyfriend’s Mom In 25 Years:When is she getting married? When is she going to have children? When, when, when?

[cues up “The Circle of Life” from “The Lion King” soundtrack] See? This shit never ends. There will always be some “step” in her head that she will feel the need to put you on the spot about.

People talk about marriage as if it’s a new restaurant that has received accolades. “Have you tried it? When are you going? You have to go. Try the lifelong commitment and stay for the tax benefits!” But it’s not that easy. Relationships unwind in their own way, on their own timetable. This is two souls sharing a life together, not a bus schedule. As much as people try to convince you otherwise, there’s no set path for when two people are ready to make a lifelong commitment. Resist the pressure to conform to anyone else’s idea of where your relationship should be, and when it should be there.

As to how to handle this woman, you could pull a Jerry Maguire and write a manifesto about how it’s none of her business to ask such probing questions then publicly flip out and steal her goldfish. You could hire a skywriter to write “I have no idea when or if we’re getting married, so stop asking me, you cruel, drunk woman!” at your next family get together.

Or you can take a step back and think about why she’s asking you about your relationship’s trajectory. Maybe she’s seeking validation, that the way she chose to marry and raise a family is the best path to take. Maybe she’s meddling because her life is boring and your relationship status is the most exciting thing she has. Maybe she has a bet going with a friend about which of their children will get married first and the winner gets a bottle of premium vodka. Either way, the sooner you have a strategy for what to say when people ask you invasive questions, the happier you will be.

Here’s what you reply, “I don’t know, but I promise that you’ll be the first one we will tell.” And let it go. You acknowledged her question and answered it respectfully. That’s the best you can do without making a fuss. Don’t shame her, just politely decline to offer any information.

As tough as it is, try not to take her intrusiveness personally. It’s bad manners on her part but it’s also an opportunity for you to practice responding to rude questions with grace. That is a lifelong skill that would serve you well to cultivate.

And lastly, resolve to never ask another woman if her relationship is headed towards cohabitation, marriage and/or children. It’s a loaded question that can, and often does, offend.

Anna Goldfarb is the blogger behind Shmitten Kitten and the author of Clearly I Didn’t Think This Through: The Story Of One Tall Girl’s Impulsive, Ill-Conceived And Borderline Irresponsible Life Decisions. (She is, however, thinking through the responses to these questions very seriously.) Follow her on Twitter!