Online bully embarrasses family – The Denver Post


Dear Amy: My father is a stubborn man. He has a lot of energy and many strong opinions. We do not have a close relationship. He has recently retired, and now spends much of his time on social media, posting long-winded political rants, and engaging in emotional arguments with anyone who dares to comment on his posts.

These “conversations,” unsurprisingly, often devolve into name-calling and petty insults.

I am disgusted by this highly public airing of false information and closed-minded views. It was getting to the point that merely opening the social media app was giving me anxiety, with the anticipation of a new bigoted diatribe from my father.

I deactivated my account, and I’ve never felt better!

My immediate family continues to feel mortified by his behavior and this has led to some awkward family gatherings. I recently looked at my father’s social media account on my husband’s phone, which I immediately regretted, as his behavior seems to have gotten even worse. I’m afraid to discuss this directly with him, due to his short temper and the high likelihood that he will share our conversation publicly on social media. I want to keep our family matters private.

What should I do? Is there a way to make it clear to my extended family that his closed-minded beliefs do not align with my own, without descending into the drama myself? How can I bring myself to spend time with a person who causes me so much embarrassment?

— Embarrassed

Dear Embarrassed: I applaud you for deactivating your social media account in order to avoid being triggered by your father’s (and others’) abusive online behavior.

You could have “unfollowed” or blocked him and perhaps experienced the same relief, but — I wholeheartedly endorse stepping away altogether for your mental and emotional health.

Now that you are removed from your father’s noxious postings, you are going to have to learn to trust other people. Your family members know him — and they also know you. You should trust that they understand and can differentiate between the two of you.

I don’t think it is useful to issue blanket or public apologies for someone else’s behavior. Your father embarrasses himself, but you should not give him the important role — and the power — to embarrass you.