Ask Amy: Subject of unfriending doesn’t get it

June 11, 2012

Dear Amy: I’m 60 and consider myself computer literate and socially mature, but I find myself stymied by a recent Facebook incident.

I’m a mentor to a group of 20- and 30-somethings at my church. We socialize several times a month. We are all on Facebook. Recently one member “unfriended” three of us.

She has explained this by saying she was just uncluttering her page and getting rid of contacts she had no contact with. However, the three of us see her, have exchanged gifts and have had her in our homes, all within the past year.

I’ve sent two e-mails and left one phone message to ask if I had inadvertently offended her, offering to meet for coffee to resolve this. I also sent a new “friend” request. All of these have been ignored.

I don’t want to make any more overtures because it will feel like stalking or begging. When I’ve run into her with a group, she has hugged me but has made no other contact. I know it’s just Facebook, but it feels very awkward. How do others handle unfriending?

-- Left Behind

Dear Left Behind: I posted a version of this question on my own Facebook page, and the response was large — and almost unanimous. One person wrote: “If I am ‘unfriended,’ I do nothing. If I talk to this person on a regular basis, then I assume that they find my updates and pictures of my kids boring. If I don’t really talk to this person and don’t really see them in real life, then it’s no big deal. It’s only Facebook.”

You have an explanation from this person that is completely plausible. For some people, following the ongoing timelines of dozens (or hundreds) of people doesn’t feel like “friendship,” but more like being an audience member.

Unfriending doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you but that she doesn’t want to interact with you in this way. Your unwillingness to accept this provides a window onto the dynamic. Your response — to double up with more contact — is disrespectful. Step away from the keyboard, and accept this change in status gracefully.

Dear Amy: Part of my job is to review résumés. I will typically inform job seekers via e-mail that their résuméwill be kept on file for future consideration.

I recently received a résuméthat, while sincere (not spam), was atrocious. The grammar and vocabulary were awful, and the format was poor to the point of near-illegibility.

Despite this, the candidate stated that he had completed a bachelor’s degree, had working experience and English oral presentation skills. I feel very strongly that he will never be hired if he continues to submit this résumé, as is.

How can I diplomatically suggest that he seek the advice of a career counselor, as well as additional lessons in written English? I don’t want to give offense or be misunderstood.

-- Want to Help

Dear Want to Help: You would be doing this person a service by responding, “Though my company won’t be hiring you, I wanted to offer you some suggestions for improving your résuméso that you can present your very best self to other potential employers.”

There are many online sources for résuméwriting -- if you prefer a certain format or source, send the person a link. You can also suggest that the job seeker do an Internet search on “career counseling” in his area. This is a kind gesture on your part; this seeker would be wise to follow your suggestions.

Dear Amy: I am responding to the letter from “Frustrated,” whose mother can’t move on after a tough divorce.

I have been in an emotionally abusive marriage for more than 30 years and have been in some form of counseling for almost that long. It has helped me to cope with the chaos.

What made a turning-point difference for me was entering a battered women’s education program a couple of years ago, where we learned about the many different kinds of abuse (only one being physical), the individual and societal causes and long-term effects, and strategies to take charge of our lives. I highly recommend this to Frustrated’s mother.

-- Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: Thank you so much for suggesting this resource.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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