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Dimming The Klieg Lights On Drama Queens And Kings

A few years ago, my ex-sister-in-law, Jennifer, committed a what I consider to be an extreme breach of etiquette. My ex-husband and I had just returned from a trip to visit his family and I was back to work on Monday. When I had gotten to work that morning, I had a misunderstanding with two co-workers. I ended up venting on my blog–probably not the best idea, but nobody at work knew about the blog. Still, I made the post pretty general and non-specific. Jennifer apparently took it as I was talking about the family and proceeded to call my other sister-in-law and my mother-in-law to tell the story and apparently blow it completely out of proportion. She also said that I had said something rude to her dogs, which I didn’t! She also misunderstood that. My mother-in-law was upset and my ex-husband basically asked me to apologize to his mother. Nobody would listen to me that Jennifer misunderstood and that it wasn’t what it seemed. I ended up shutting down the blog and did not speak to her for a long time. Even when I did again, it was strained. Am I wrong in thinking that she could have stopped all that by asking me a simple question about who the post was about?   0424-12

One of my pet peeves in life are drama queens who ramp up the family drama needlessly. It’s as if the drama queen or king is just lying in wait, like a stalking tiger, for something to happen so they can bounce on it, maul it and leave it a bloody mess that someone will try to clean up or the victim crawls off mortally wounded.   Drama queens don’t care for the truth as this will often diminish or extinguish the drama entirely.  It’s all about the drama as if they need the emotional angst it generates to survive.

Drama queens in families will use it to create barriers between family members and new spouses so that they never feel welcomed into the family.  It is a powerful tool in the passive aggressive manipulator’s arsenal.

The way to deal with a drama queen/king is to set the parameters of how they will relate to you very early in the relationship.

1) Become a person who refuses to listen to family, work or group gossip.   A drama queen/king NEVER tells their intended victim what their issues are with them.  It always makes the rounds of the grape vine first behind the person’s back.  If you refuse to listen to gossip, you become a roadblock to perpetuating more drama.   My question upon hearing some fresh gossip about another family member is to ask, “Have you talked with So-and-So about your apparent offense against him/her?  (No.)  I suggest you speak with him/her soon to resolve your obvious offense.  If you do and the problem is not resolved, I will be happy to mediate a resolution between you two for the sake of family harmony.  Until that time, I really do not want to hear it.”

2)  Become known as a person of integrity.  Never tells lies, never validate a lie by not giving due diligence to finding out the truth.  If someone tells you a fantastic tale of evil on the part of another person and you are tempted to believe it or have it negatively affect your relationship with that person, you have a duty to get the other side of the story before it negatively colors your relationship.   Many years ago I was told a detailed story about another family member that I promptly believed without any effort to ascertain the other side of the story. For six months I was very cool towards this person until I realized what I had done.  I called the person in question, got his side of the story which included corroborative evidence that what had been gossiped to me had actually never happened.   I apologized profusely and vowed to never be sucked into someone else’s drama again without researching it further.   In fact, I will tell dramatists that I will be double checking their story for veracity if it has the potential to blow up relationships.

Relationships may blow up but let it be because a drama queen or king got exposed for being the source of the unnecessary drama as opposed to some innocent person being wrongly cast as the catalyst for drama.

{ 45 comments… add one }
  • lkb May 16, 2012, 5:17 am

    “I apologized profusely and vowed to never be sucked into someone else’s drama again without researching it further. In fact, I will tell dramatists that I will be double checking their story for veracity if it has the potential to blow up relationships.”

    I agree with the general thrust of the Admin’s response. However, I don’t agree with the portion mentioned above. IMHO if the gossip is none of my business (i.e., it has no bearing on me in any way), then my duty is to forget about it at once and never mention it.

    If the person is venting about a grudge, then yes, definitely ask them, “Have you talked to him or her about it” and, perhaps, offer to mediate if asked. But it’s not my place to research the truth of something that doesn’t concern me whatsoever.

    The old adage is true, “The less said the better.”

    • admin May 16, 2012, 7:21 am

      But the gossip was my business since it pertained to the relationship this person has with me. I made the mistake of believing the gossip and initiated the distancing of myself from this person who noticed it over time. I believe I very much did owe that person an apology for believing negative gossip which affected how I related to this person.

  • Bint May 16, 2012, 6:10 am

    Yeah, but not speaking to her for a long time isn’t exactly non-dramatic, and neither is calling this an ‘extreme breach’. Jennifer is a silly trouble-maker, but why didn’t you just confront her? Ring her up or get her face to face and say, “Jennifer, why did you do that? I was talking about my work, why didn’t you just ask me?” In front of people too, to watch her reaction. Then refuse to discuss it further and act like nothing’s happened.

    To be honest, this just sounds petty and your reaction played into it.

  • josie May 16, 2012, 7:02 am

    There’s a reason why some relatives have “ex” in front of their names 🙂

  • allyoops May 16, 2012, 7:02 am

    Good advice from admin!

    Years ago there was a woman in our church who always spread gossip and lies. I don’t know why she would invent things up (there was plenty to go around with inventing things) but she did.

    One sunday a couple in our church came down to the altar–nobody knows why, nor was it our concern. Our drama gossip left church, went to the town gossip center (the gas station) and told everyone the couple was getting a divorce. The sad thing was those people just gobbled that information up and spread it all over. When the aired cleared, (the couple has now been married for over 20 some years) those people never, ever thought an apology should be forthcoming nor even remembered the gossip they helped spread.

    The only reason gossips flourish and drama thrives is because people allow it to.

  • Laura May 16, 2012, 7:19 am

    This is just my take on the situation — personally, I get very annoyed at this type of post when they appear on Facebook. I find them frustrating, because no one can tell what the poster is talking about, or who they are talking about. It’s almost like they are begging people to ask for the juicy details. You probably didn’t mean to come off that way by keeping it general & non-specific, but this approach backfired. In the absence of details, people may automatically think the post refers to them. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. My solution? If you are that upset about something that’s happened to you, write about it in a private diary, or call a good friend and vent for 15 minutes. Posting strong feelings in the heat of the moment on the internet is never wise, and cannot be undone. And as you learned, can have serious, long-term ramifications.

  • LovleAnjel May 16, 2012, 7:51 am

    I like admin’s suggestion of telling the gossiper you’re going to go ask the gossipee about their side of the story – it will shut them down right then and there, and they will not bring you gossip again. My husband works in a gossipy place, and has developed a habit of just nodding, smiling and saying “That’s interesting,” when someone tries to gossip with him. He’s been approached a lot less since he adopted that policy.

    Always remember – if they are gossiping to you about someone else, they are gossiping about you to someone else as well.

  • Jojo May 16, 2012, 8:01 am

    I’ve distanced myself completely from my mother’s side of the family because her sister is a malicious, manipulative gossip. I’ve actually witnessed her take a completely innocent comment my mother made to a friend and in the space of 10 minutes turn it completely on it’s head in front of my uncle ( their brother) to make it seem like my mother had been putting him down and gossiping about him. Not one of my relatives has ever contacted me or my mother to ask if any of the outrageous lies my aunt has spread about us are true or to ask for our version of events.
    The absolute worst occasion was calling up my school to make an untrue allegation about my step-father simply because she didn’t like him. Fortunately the school decided to speak to my mother rather than escalating the situation further.
    Personally, it’s a relief not to have to deal with the family as a whole but the damage my aunt has done is irreversible. Interestingly, my aunt doesn’t understand why my younger brother avoids all contact with her.
    If the OP’s ex-in laws chose so willingly to believe some rather silly tattle rather than asking for her version of events it just shows that they were willing to believe the worst, if even your husband wont listen to your version of events or back you up, then it’s probably a blessing she got out of that family.

  • myfamily May 16, 2012, 8:01 am

    I’d like to address something else – the OP’s blog post. She posted a vague rant about some people; since it was just after spending time with her husband’s family, I could understand why they might think she was posting about them. Yes, her SIL should have asked her before telling the world, but she may have been very hurt. I think people should be careful before posting on things like blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. And the OP needs to acknowledge that vague-posting will be misunderstood, so maybe it is best to just avoid it.

  • MellowedOne May 16, 2012, 8:03 am

    I think eveyone is plagued with their own Drama Queen 🙂

    That said, I think the OP used bad judgment in airing a beef (abeit a different one) on the Internet. The Internet is a public domain. Posting inflammatory on the Internet is asking for trouble, which Drama Queens flock to.

  • SlyDude May 16, 2012, 8:18 am

    To my mind, this is why you shouldn’t make vague posts on your blog. If you are mad at a specific group of people, then deal with that group, or name them, or name specifically who its not. A simple, “Thank goodness my friends and family aren’t like this” would have kept the post from being misinterpreted.

    My feeling was that the blogger was the drama queen, not the family member who wasn’t able to tell what was going on.

  • Phoebe161 May 16, 2012, 8:48 am

    I realize the thrust of this topic is Drama Queens/Kings, but there is a secondary topic here as well–posting stuff on a blog. I (tried) to learn a long time ago to censure my posts on anything like bulletin boards, blogs, Facebook, whatever, as whatever gets posted can be read by **anyone**, &, worse, “misinterpreted” by **anyone**. I’m not placing the blame on OP (clearly, the Drama Queen is at fault), but just reminding everyone about being cautious what you post.

  • Cat May 16, 2012, 9:42 am

    As a Monday Morning Quarterback, I can tell you never to post anything about anyone on the ‘Net you would not be happy to say to his/her face.
    You were angry and anger need to be expressed-just not in a blog. Write it out on a piece of paper and, when you have cooled off, burn it.
    As to the liars among us-well, that is a tough one. I have been victimized by that so often it feels normal to me.
    My brother was a great liar and he loved to make me look like the villain. When Dad was very ill and “Stanley” was going on a month-long holiday, big game hunting as he did every year, I asked him what he wanted me to do if Dad died while he was away. He said, “Have the funeral! I am not giving up a day of my vacation for any funeral!”
    I said, “You may feel differently if it actually happens. Do you want to phone me once a week to find out how Dad is doing?” and he said, “I am not wasting my money on long distance phone calls!”
    Dad died June 15th. It was Father’s Day. ” Stanley” never called. I held off the funeral for eight days waiting to see if “Stanley” would call. Dad’s family were furious with me for waiting. On the eighth day, I held the funeral. “Stanley” didn’t know about it until he stopped to see some relatives in another state a week later.
    To this day I am told how horrible I was not to allow poor “Stanley” to come to his Father’s funeral. “Stanley” says it is so sad that he had no family. I know of a sister he hasn’t got; not because of this ,but because of twenty-five years of unrelently abuse.

  • Lisa S. May 16, 2012, 9:52 am

    “She also said that I had said something rude to her dogs, which I didn’t!”

    I’m going to believe that the dogs were paragons of virtue and etiquette and gracefully chose to let the issue go by. Too bad the human members of the family weren’t as well-behaved.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith May 16, 2012, 10:37 am

    Drama is so pervasive and so overrated. My own dear mother, who was in many ways a saint, had a bit of the dramatist. I do, my sister does. If I may make so bold, we all have a bit of the dramatic in us and are prone to wearing the crown of Drama King or Drama Queen at times. It feels like a golden crown of righteous anger to the wearer but is really just a sad pair of donkey’s ears completed by a tail at the other end. What makes someone want to put the crown on? Desire for control, fear, insecurity, malice and jealousy, old hurts that aren’t healed, a desire to get revenge for wrongs that are real or perceived, a desire to be seen as better by comparison. At some point most of us get weary of being dramatic, come to see that it doesn’t solve anything, change anyone or even make us feel better. Then there are all the emotional toxins to deal with. Family drama that crosses generations can be the most intransigent- there are often real offenses at the root of the problem. If we all just took a moment before reacting and declined to escalate the drama that others bring us, there would be far less damage to people done by wearers of the crown. It often helps the wearers themselves to take the crowns off and become better than they were. After all, you can’t be a King or Queen without subjects who are a willing audience to your drama. And the erstwhile subjects can then live their own lives in peace.

  • DGS May 16, 2012, 10:52 am

    Here, here, Admin!!! Exactly right.

    Oh, and another rule should be that venting about particular people never ever needs to take place in a public forum, whether it is a social networking site (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) or a blog, when there is an even remote possibility that those people or other people who know the venter (is that a word?) might be reading that vent. It is best to restrict venting to sites such as this one (and depersonalize it) and to constructively address any qualms one might have with the source of the offense, or if it impossible to address the situation constructively (frustrating work situations are unsolveable at times), to talk about it with a spouse or partner or trusted friend. If you don’t want to be involved in gossip and drama, don’t start or contribute to gossip or drama.

  • jess May 16, 2012, 10:56 am

    I have a mother and sister in law like that :s

    Only 1 minor example is the two day barrage or phone calls and lectures on parenting because my sons happened to be still in their pj’s at 11am on a sunday.
    I am trying to teach them to dress themselves (they are 5 and 6). We were supposed to go to the park that day but I told them if they did not get dressed they could not go to the park…..and waited until they realised they would miss out if the were not dressed. It diddnt work that day, so at 5pm I bathed them and changed their pj’s. The next morning by 9am they dressed themselves ready for the park.

    This did not stop mother in law, to her it was unacceptable full stop and I am too lazy to change my children and spread this fact to the rest of the family.

    Example 2. My husband recently started a new job and there is a significant gap between salary payments, we were relying on his last payment from his old job to pay the rent/car loan we had pre-arranged to pay 2 weeks late. The payment did not come through due to a stuff up with the company and our car also stopped working. We used our savings to pay for the car so hubby could get to work but had no way of paying rent or car loan until company fixed error.

    My MIL found out and later that morning promptly informed us that she had paid our rent to date on her credit card. We also borrowed money from my mother to get through. MIL proceeds to tell the family my husband and I cant manage money and she has to pay our bills for us (I did not ask her to pay rent, she informed me after the fact).

    She now says we need to sit down and have a family conference on how hubby and I should manage our cash…….. She refuses to understand that bills CANT be paid if money is not there, we did not spend it, it just was not paid to us when it should have been. Her reply? We should not depend on payments like that. So we are to blame for relying on wages to be able to pay bills.

    His SIL is even worse…..

  • Hemi May 16, 2012, 11:03 am

    OP needed to vent and “Jennifer” needed to stir up the drama. I do agree that the second issue is posting things to the internet. We so often remind/tell young people to be careful about what they post on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.; I think sometime we, adults, forget those rules apply to us as well. We think we are being careful but, as this submission shows, sometimes adults forgot to reign themselves in when they are upset.
    OP- sorry the family was too willing to take “Jennifer’s” words as the truth. If you choose to post on or have a blog again, I would keep it anonymous or do not let family drama queens know you have a blog.
    To @ Cat- Your brother sounds like an a$$ and I’m really sorry he treated you that way. Shame on him and those who chose to believe him. I have similiar people in my family; I choose to stay away and severely limit the contact.

  • The Elf May 16, 2012, 11:05 am

    Ugh, who doesn’t have a Drama Queen or Drama King in their family? Sometimes you can quickly and effectively establish borders and sometimes it’s much more difficult. A lot depends on who the Drama Queen/King is and how the other family members deal with Drama Queen/King. In this case, your husband does not have your back. Before you can approach how to deal with Drama Queen SIL, you and your ex-husband have to have a united front, since he is your “in” to the family. Does he believe that your side of the story and only wants you to apologize to make peace? Or does he believe her?

    Since this is an EX-sister-in-law….. Is it worth worrying about? I don’t know how your particular family works; I could see that answer going either way. If this person is someone you don’t anticipate seeing often, then don’t apologize. Let it go on your end. If it comes up again say, again, that this was blown out of porportion, that this post was not talking about the family, that it is much ado about nothing. Then say you are not discussing it ever again. Then don’t discuss it again. Honestly, I think that if your ex-sister-in-law won’t speak to you over this, it might be a bonus. One less Drama Queen in your life, so to speak.

  • Angela May 16, 2012, 11:10 am

    My mom and her sisters all have a touch of the Drama Queen and so when something happens that seems newsworthy to one, they all work themselves up about it. My sister and I long ago decided not to let ourselves get sucked into their dramas, at least not without a lot of outside confirmation.
    If you really want a blog where you can vent, perhaps it should be completely anonymous. Aside from issues others have brought up, it seems to me a matter of time before the people in your workplace are steered to it and then you may see some real drama.

  • Cupcake May 16, 2012, 11:19 am

    I just knew people would be commenting that it’s the OP’s fault for blogging about it in the first place. If the OP’s coworkers had somehow seen the blog and been upset, then yeah, she would have brought the trouble on herself. But if someone who it had nothing to do with assumed it was directed at her and kicked up a fuss instead of speaking to the OP, well, that is not the OP’s fault at all – unless you want to blame her for getting involved with someone who has an unpleasant relative, and who among us hasn’t done that? If it’s so unacceptable to air grievances online where someone could read it, mistakenly think it applies to them and end up hurt, then what are we all doing on this website? (Yes these submissions are anonymous, but in some cases it would be possible to figure out who wrote them.)

    If Jennifer read a rant about bad behaviour and automatically assumed it applied to her and her family, well, that says more about her than it does about OP. And does anyone else love the fact that the blog post was actually about a misunderstanding? “How dare OP criticise me for causing a misunderstanding! Instead of speaking with her, I’m going to tell everyone how mean she is!”

    • admin May 17, 2012, 7:47 am

      Etiquette Hell is a very large site with about ten thousand stories on it so the likelihood that someone would stumble on it, see themselves in the vague descriptions and be offended is small. On the other hand, a personal blog is often meant to be read by friends and family, a much more limited target audience, so the chances of someone reading into a rant post to believe it is about them is much greater.

  • Cat Whisperer May 16, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Some really good points in today’s column and posts.

    LovleAnjel’s comment– “…Always remember – if they are gossiping to you about someone else, they are gossiping about you to someone else as well.” deserves to be framed and hung up in a prominent place where you can see it every day. The best way to predict people’s future behavior is to look at their past/present behavior.

    It’s also good to remember that the person or people who give a “drama llama” an audience are complicit in any harm that comes from the gossip. Listening to mean-spirited tittle-tattle may seem like a harmless pastime: after all, as long as we don’t ourselves indulge in spreading gossip, we aren’t harming anyone, are we? But by giving the “drama llama” a forum and the encouragement of an audience, we allow him/her to flourish. This is why Admin’s point about cutting off the drama queen/king is important to emphasize. And her point about verifying anything negative, getting the other side of the story, is also important: malicious gossip is something that perishes when you shine a light on it.

    Finally, the point several people have made about posting things on the internet and the consequences this can have reminds me of a rhyme I learned in grade school: “Make the words you say today tender, soft and sweet/For tomorrow they may be the words you’ll have to eat!” You can’t unring a bell. Once you’ve put something scurrilous, negative, hurtful or damaging out on the internet, you can’t call it back. Much better to not put negative things out there at all.

  • Barb May 16, 2012, 12:36 pm

    Say it, forget it. Write it, regret it.

  • badkitty May 16, 2012, 1:17 pm

    I see nothing wrong with venting to your friends either on facebook or your blog, so long as it’s kept vague. There’s really no difference between the controlled audience via social media or that same audience out to lunch – except for the possibility that the people at the next table might overhear. I’ve seen a couple of friends vent and thought it might be about me. You know what I did? I called that person up, and asked them directly if I’d given offense and if the post was about me. It never is, and they often take the opportunity to fill me in directly on more details – to get advice or just to reassure me that it really wasn’t about me. In this day and age, many people don’t have the option of getting their closest friends together quickly – most of mine are 1300 miles away, thankyouverymuch – and if our primary means of contact is through the internet then that’s how they’ll hear about ALL of my updates, situations, triumphs and frustrations, at least initially.

    The problem here occurred because a drama queen chose – yes, CHOSE, as evidenced by the fact that she embellished and added additional offenses – to take a relatively innocuous post on her SIL’s blog and use it as ammunition against our OP. That’s not even a misunderstanding, that’s just a rude and selfish and, frankly, mean person who wants to see others ostracized. As for the ex husband, I can see why he’s the ex, since he not only chose not to step in and defend his wife, but actually took his sister’s side without bothering to check the facts!

  • lkb May 16, 2012, 1:40 pm

    @admin. you showed class in apologizing to the person. I guess it depends on the situation to decide whether confronting the other party about the gossip would be beneficial. In your case it seems to be the charitable thing to do. I applaud you for that.

  • boxy May 16, 2012, 3:12 pm

    Admin – thank you for the advice you posted. Years ago I heard similar advice and decided to use it. The results have completely changed my life. Instead of “talking about” someone I choose to “talk to” that person. I’ve earned respect from people because they know I value things told me in confidence. Not being a gossip and learning how to negotiate with people is a wonderful, wonderful, skill.

  • Cat Whisperer May 16, 2012, 5:31 pm

    badkitty said: “….I see nothing wrong with venting to your friends either on facebook or your blog, so long as it’s kept vague….”

    But that misses one of the points of today’s post: the OP’s rant was misconstrued because it was vague, and someone in her family thought it applied to them instead of the person OP was ranting ab out.

    Vague is WORSE than specific, because it can be misconstrued. You might do great damage to an innocent person.

    The point of the admin’s advice, which I think is spot-on, is do away with drama entirely. If someone has you upset, instead of ranting to other people about them, why not take your beef to the source and settle the issue man-to-man, or agree to disagree and move on? Venting to other people might make you feel better, but it builds up problems for later on.

    Once you spill your bile in a rant, whether it’s verbal to a friend or over the internet in a blog or whatever, you lose control of what you’ve said. It can be distorted, misapplied, misconstrued, and can even be used against you. Wouldn’t it be better to not say anything to other people that you wouldn’t say to the person you’re talking about?

    I’m 100% with admin on this one: enough already with drama. Nobody ever went wrong by taking the high road and refusing to gossip, or vent, or rant, or “tell their side of the story,” or however you want to call it. If you feel you have something to vent about, instead of venting, how about working to solve the problem?

  • Library Diva May 16, 2012, 5:51 pm

    It’s slightly off topic but some people are saying that there’s nothing wrong with venting on FB as long as you depersonalize it. To me, that’s just another way of being a “drama llama.” I have a few FB friends like that. One in particular is always posting about how she’s come to realize how fake certain people are, how people need to stop saying one thing and doing another, how tough people seem to be on FB, how people are liars and backstabbers, etc. etc. She’ll never elaborate, and she always ends with some vague threat of dropping these people from her life. But she obviously either never follows through, or has a talent for attracting people with qualities she dislikes, because she’s back at it every few days.

    I was friendly with this person in high school, but have not seen her in more than 15 years. I have to say, her posts make me thankful of that and leave me with no desire to reconnect. She makes herself sound like a massive storm of drama, and yet, this could all be about Farmville for all I know. I have thought many, many times about defriending her. I keep her on my FB because I genuinely liked her in high school, but just reading her updates makes me feel tired. I think it’s best to vent verbally to a friend/partner/co-worker that you trust. Do it too much on FB, and people will start asking the natural question: why does this person attract and tolerate so much unpleasantness?

  • Ann May 16, 2012, 7:44 pm

    My impression — the OP isn’t much different than her other family members.

    Does a mature and professional person really need to vent in a public forum (it is called the World Wide Web for a reason) over a minor work skirmish?


  • MellowedOne May 17, 2012, 6:08 am

    Cupcake, you asked,

    “If it’s so unacceptable to air grievances online where someone could read it, mistakenly think it applies to them and end up hurt, then what are we all doing on this website?”

    In retrospect, I think this was a point well made. There has occured times when people who have been the subject of stories here found out it and were upset.

    On this site, like all others, we DO have to be aware that what we post is available to anyone, and if we involve others in our posts we had better be aware that there is possibility those individuals could find out about it. Accept the risk, accept the responsbility.

    As regards content accessibility on the internet, I think many would be surprised at just how much and what is out there for individuals looking for it. It only takes a minimal effort for those with an overt curiosity of another to find their address, number and ages of people in their household, family and pet names, forum memberships, etc.

  • LilyG May 17, 2012, 6:31 am

    I guess this is worse than my SIL who blogs every action on fb. I mean EVERY ACTION. She will post when she is getting dressed, what she had for breakfast, how the traffic is, who cooked dinner and when she is going to bed! I now have a Pavlovian reaction to reading her name-my eyes automatically skip two inches down the screen… Good thing her name is uncommon.

  • Huh May 17, 2012, 8:17 am

    I very rarely write anything personal on Facebook, because of instances like this. I have a friend who vented about an argument with a coworker one day, didn’t mention names, but a friend of the coworker saw it and showed it to his coworker, who showed it to his boss. He got written up over it. And I remember reading online about a teacher who vented about her students one day, again didn’t name names, didn’t name the school, just went by her first name, and someone on her restricted friends list sent it to someone else, and it ended up back with the principal. I believe she ended up getting fired.

  • acr May 17, 2012, 8:32 am

    I have a hard time feeling much sympathy for the LW here. She posts vague complaints on her blog, and then is “upset” when people are offended. Yes, Jennifer fanned the flames – but the LW lit the fire.

  • Enna May 17, 2012, 10:29 am

    If the OP’s ex SIL won’t listen then there’s not a lot the OP can do. Has the OP tried explaining it to the ex SIL? What was the situation between the ex in-laws and the colleagues? If they were simillar then that could be why there was some confsion. It’s always important to be careful about posting on the internet. It’s not uncomon for people to vent on here and it be recognised for venting by other posters and the OP his/herself. Before writing something online it’s always best to make sure you’ve calmed down first.

    Avoid gossip is important. I nearly moved in with someone who had a reputaition of being a liar – she claimed she had been raped by someone – it could be true it might not be I don’t know. But the person also fell out with a firend of mine and another firend told me the reason why was because the person had said the firend had slept with someone who had an sti. In the end I didn’t move in with the person as I just didn’t know what to believe.

  • Emmy May 17, 2012, 10:38 am

    This reminds me a bit of my mother. An otherwise sweet woman, who rarely gossips, but who has a tendency to hear/read something, misunderstand it, and fly off the handle.

    An example, my friend once posted a quote from a movie on my Facebook wall that said “You’re not very pretty, and you’re not very smart”, this was complete in gest as we had just been talking about the movie and left me laughing so hard I could barley breath. Unfortunetly my mother saw it before I could comment on it, and quickly responded that that wasn’t nice and I was both pretty and smart (oh mom, so sweet to jump to her daughter’s defense). Of course, my mother knows this friend and has their phone number and he got the riot-act via a text message. Opps. Once I corrected her that it was just a joke and from a movie (and that my friend did not think that about me at all), she was quick to apologize to him for making assumptions. Now anytime she starts to go off on something I stop her with “How sure are you that’s what they meant?”, she’s getting better. Now she she just rants and raves to me about her assumptions then calms down and see reason and logic. She also asks me what so-so meant before responding to anything one of my friends posts on my wall.

    As for venting a on-line, I’ve never been a fan. Mostly because when I was a silly teenager I ranted and raved about someone on a “private” forum. And it came back to bite me in the rear. I also get annoyed by friends I have who “vent” in every status update on their facebook pages, of course vague vents that get everyone going “Oh my god! What’s wrong!”, and then they get the attention they wanted in the first place. If I need to vent, I text my best friend. She reads my long vent, says “there, there” and then makes me laugh. If I need to vent about her, I text my mom. Everyone can see the internet. Even if the intention is only for a select few, there really is no way to guarntee only a select few will see it.

    I am trying to figure out what rude thing you could’ve said to her dogs that was deemed so horrible. Did their collars clash with their fur?

  • Angel May 17, 2012, 11:51 am

    This story just illustrates to me the consequences of venting in a blog, on FB, or any public internet based forum. The vagueness just leaves it open to interpretation and anyone can take it the wrong way. From the original post, I think that the person who vented in her blog was actually more in the wrong than the ex sister in law that took it the wrong way! If that makes any sense.

    This forum is anonymous, so I might say a few things in this forum that I wouldn’t say in my own blog, however, to me it’s never a good idea to share things online that you wouldn’t necessarily share in real life. Even if you are anonymous. I don’t want to say that the OP had it coming, but in a way, she kind of did 🙁 Perhaps this situation will teach her not to use her blog to air personal grievances about people from work. What if one of her coworkers saw it and reported it to the boss? In a way she is lucky her ex SIL thought it was about her family–she can always claim that if one her coworkers saw it.

  • Original Poster May 17, 2012, 1:16 pm

    First, I appreciate the responses. That being said, I would like to clarify a few points:

    -Yes, I realize posting anything in the first place was wrong. At the time, I thought nothing about it. It was a private journal that you almost had to know the address to even find. If I wanted to rant about my family (who knew about it and read the journal religiously), I would do it privately in my head. Putting something on there about them would have been ridiculous, which is why their response shocked me so much. My thought was that if she had written something vague and knew I could read it, I wouldn’t have jumped to such an awful conclusion. I probably would have asked what happened to warrant the post, is everything ok, etc. It seems like a just a bit of a leap not to stop and think and ask first. Like Admin said, drama queen…simple as that. I WILL be taking her advice close to my heart. It is good advice.

    -As for sharing the story on here, it was selfish in one sense in that it was meant to be cathartic: to tell the story without the slant of my friends’ affection for me clouding their judgement of the situation. I know what my mistakes were. In another sense, I was also hopeful someone else could learn from my experience.

    – As for me handling the situation, I really didn’t talk to them much anyway as they didn’t live close. “Not talking to her for a long time” wasn’t really this horrible thing where I ignored texts, calls, etc and acted like a sulky child. We didn’t talk on a regular basis anyway, even if the incident never happened. It was just difficult to trust her reaction to me after that. I didn’t really want to speak to her unless other people were around to validate that I wasn’t saying anything offensive. Because of this, I had be the bigger person to interact with the family after this incident. It took a lot but I did it with a smile. What I do regret is not standing up for myself and saying, “Wait a second! This is what I meant, you misunderstood. Why am I being asked to apologize here?” Instead, I simply apologized.

    -Most important, I’ve learned from this incident. I don’t publicly (besides this venue) vent about people. I keep that between me and me. I don’t have Facebook or participate in any other social networking. Except for rare occasions (this is the first time in years), I don’t put myself out there publicly at all. I don’t trust people right away on the most part. I’ve probably let this incident affect me more than it should have but it is what it is. We are shaped by our experiences.

  • Cat Whisperer May 17, 2012, 1:20 pm

    My older brother, who has been in the IT field since the 1970’s, told me long ago that anything you do on digital media should be regarded as completely public and available forever. He also warned me that the so-called “anonymity of the internet” is a myth. Virtually every website administrator will cave to a request to divulge a poster’s IP address if that request is made through legal channels. And of course once someone has the IP address, it’s just a matter of matching it up to a name and face.

    The gist of my brother’s advice was: nothing you post on the internet is private or anonymous. If you wouldn’t say it face-to-face to someone, then you shouldn’t be posting it. If what you are posting is upsetting enough to someone, chances are it will come back to bite you. And once you’ve posted it, you can never, ever, ever, call it back. You lose control of it. You can’t stop it from being copied, quoted, passed along, misinterpreted, taken out of context.

    Why take the chance? What do people who post vents and rents on social media really aim to accomplish? Most of the time, people who post vents or rants on social media are trying to cause factions, to be divisive, to set a situation up as conflict and get people to take sides. This may feel good for a while, but it doesn’t solve whatever the real problem is.

    If you have to vent, do it in a paper diary or journal. Posting your grievance on-line only complicates the problem.

  • twik May 18, 2012, 9:18 am

    I don’t think that people who post vents on social media are necessarily trying to foment drama. But I think there are important lines that are getting blurred by social media, between a private diary, a personal conversation, and a public announcement. People seem to expect that Facebook can fulfill the requirements of any of these at will, but the third is the only thing that it really should be used for.

  • MellowedOne May 20, 2012, 6:57 am

    “Etiquette Hell is a very large site with about ten thousand stories on it so the likelihood that someone would stumble on it, see themselves in the vague descriptions and be offended is small. On the other hand, a personal blog is often meant to be read by friends and family, a much more limited target audience, so the chances of someone reading into a rant post to believe it is about them is much greater.”

    But don’t you see, admin, that it is this type of thinking that encourages what is perceived to be anonymous venting? I’ll give a scenario very common–person posts something online, accidentally leaves the page open where they posted. Next person to use computer…usually family member or friend–reads it and knows who the post is about. If they are the Drama Queen..immediate trouble. If not, they could easily and innocently enough comment on it to someone else until it gets to a Drama Queen or person who is subject of story.

    I’ve had this happen to me…a friend who was using my computer was on their favorite forum whose membership was in the thousands. He posted an incident of which my family was the subject, and accidentally left the topic open when he was done w/the computer. I saw it and knew immediately of course. Of course, this friend is a good one and cautious with his posts, and the story was an innocuous one. So no harm done. But see how easily it could have turned out badly?

    Conversely, if I left this page open and he happened upon it, he would know in a second the above story was about him. 🙂

  • Vicki May 20, 2012, 8:36 am

    The other thing is that “is this true?” and “will this cause harm?” are different questions. Something can be untrue but harmless–trivial things like what was served at a dinner party, say, or which weekend something happened. And something can be true but still cause harm in being spread.

    I had a couple of (unconnected) friends who prided themselves on fact-checking their gossip. But they didn’t necessarily stop to think about motives: why were they telling people this, and would it do any harm? OK, it’s true that A and B had an argument in public; if neither of them is still upset about it, why is C telling me all the details?

  • flowerpower May 20, 2012, 8:38 am

    That apology was really good of you, admin. I was the recipient of such an apology myself about a year ago, when a friend realised he’d bought into rumours about me that weren’t true. I hadn’t noticed him treating me differently but in fact it seems he’d been quite cold (I’m dumb :D) nonetheless I was so appreciative of the apology.

  • justme June 15, 2012, 10:01 pm

    She also said you said something rude to her… dogs? Do creatures whose natural behavior includes humping legs and sniffing butts even understand the concept of rudeness? Or care?

  • erica September 10, 2012, 12:16 am

    You may want to issue a “I am so sorry that you misinterpreted my blog…apology” but I don’t think you owe her one.
    Just because she thinks it was about HER and her family well….it must be nice to live in a world where everything is all about you.
    Tell your ex to deal with his crazy family and tell them it really had nothing to do with them but was a work related issue. They won’t admit they believe it even if they do…it will make the look stupid.

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