General Etiquette > Techno-quette

When someone reveals offensive views via facebook.

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One of my in-laws is my friend on facebook.  In person she is always really warm and kind to me. However, judging by her facebook posts, she has much more extreme views on things like politics and religion than I would have imagined. She has never brought up these views during our in person interactions, but it's pretty much all she posts about on FB. Because of this I blocked her from viewing my posts, and I blocked hers from showing up in my feed. I check her page once in a while to see how she is doing, and partly out of curiosity because the stuff she posts is pretty out there and kind of fascinating. Unfortunately some of the groups she likes to lambaste are ones that I belong to. I'm pretty sure she's not aware that we have very different religious views, but she definitely knows that my career is in the sciences. She regularly posts things that are anti-my religious views, anti-science, making fun of people with my political affiliation, etc.

Mostly what I am taking from this is that the list of subjects I should avoid around her extends beyond the usual polite avoidance of religion and politics into things like science, mainstream medicine, etc. That's fine, I don't see her often enough for this to be a big deal. However, what I'm having trouble with is reconciling the friendly woman who gives me a big hug hello with the angry person she appears to be on FB - the person who apparently thinks my career is bunk, I'm going to hell, and I'm an idiot because of who I voted for.

Is it rude to keep our interactions more on the side of "civil and brief" rather than "warm and friendly"? I will still accept a hug and such but I don't think it's wise to have an extended 20 minute catch up session because it would be hard to avoid topics like my work, my involvement in the local community (which includes politics), etc. I know this probably makes zero sense but I feel bad that she will notice my keeping my distance and think I'm snubbing her for no clear reason. But on the other hand, she's made it pretty clear what she thinks of People Like Me, and keeping polite distance seems like a natural consequence.

Sorry if this reads a bit neurotic - I certainly have "interesting" relatives on both sides but none as stealth as this woman, all sweetness and light in person and then #*(%&# ANGRY#()*$# on FB!

I would say privately to her - in person - that you were sure she wasn't aware that you personally belong to many of the groups/hold many of the beliefs that she constantly bashes on Facebook, but that you were feeling pretty offended.  The problem will probably take care of itself at that point, as she will most likely stop being so friendly in person.

Library Dragon:
I don't think it's necessarily stealth.  One of my BIL have very different political views.  We still love and care for each other.  When we're together we don't waste that time arguing about our political differences.  We spend it enjoying each other's company. 

Yes, I think think some of his postings lack logic, but he's not lying to me when we laugh and talk about the other parts of his life.

Tea Drinker:
Depending on the specific relationship, I would either reply online--with either specific disagreement or "In-law, maybe you've forgotten that I'm Purple"--or back away.

To some extent it would depend on whether I felt attacked or looked down upon personally, or just thought that the other person was being foolish. I can disagree with you on fiscal policy or whether the US should build high-speed rail without it feeling like I'm being asked to prove I'm human and a citizen with the same rights you have. If someone says that non-Orange people shouldn't be allowed to hold public office or get married, and I'm Purple, that feels like either scorn, an attack, or both. I can either respond, and hope the other person thinks about it and concludes "well, Tea Drinker is purple, and she's okay, maybe so-and-so is a reasonable candidate even though he's purple," or I can back away if I don't feel up to the argument right now.

What I can't do is pretend that the other person isn't stating anti-purple views or calling for an Orange-only government. I'm not going to invite them over, offer them tea, and chat about geology or books while I'm thinking "if she knew I was purple she wouldn't be here."

I also have several friends and family on FB with whom I have vastly different views - socially, politically and religiously - although I don't think they realize it. I never post anything controversial on my page. Instead, I try to keep it light and fun most of the time. And I certainly don't engage them in any of their posts that I don't agree with or try to defend a contrary view. Really, what good would it do? They're not looking for a stimulating debate but rather confirmation of their views with people who think just like them. I just sigh and keep scrolling through my feed.

That doesn't mean they aren't warm and welcoming when we're together, sometimes for hours. It may be helpful to have a fun activity in mind to do together rather than just sitting and chatting. That way minds are off FB topics.


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