Can we talk about exes that try to refriend you on Facebook? What is the deal? Why? Can it be outlawed? Am I overreacting?
Here is my favorite true bedtime story: One time a beautiful princess (my best friend) dated a hapless stoner jester in a land called college. They didn’t date for very long — two fortnights at most — because there were vast personality difference issues, and also he was gross. Still, it took the princess two attempts to really break up with him because she had a heart as pure as the snow. Her best friend, the evil witch, seriously couldn’t believe it took her so long, but whatever. After they were really broken up, and the seasons changed, the jester Facebook chatted the princess and asked whether they could get back together. The princess, deeply sorry but resolute, said no. And then the jester said, “But I have a notebook under my bed filled with reasons why we should be together!”
And that is what re-friending your ex on Facebook is like.
That’s why I won’t allow it, in whatever sense I can “allow” the actions of strangers whose behavior I can only hope to control. I know that’s cold. In search of a counterpoint, to see if I could bend, I Gchatted with a guy who had done his own ex-refriending. He told me he believes that after some time, exes should be able to be cool with each other, and that being defriended is getting kicked while you’re down. It’s a low blow, he said. And this is a totally legitimate personal position to have. But it doesn’t change mine. When someone dumps and defriends you, I don’t think it’s really UP to you whether or not you two will “be cool” someday way out there. When you are the dumpee, to go back and refriend is to not accept that it’s over. When you are the dumper/defriender, to refriend is to be an enormous asshole. There is no victory to be had here. Besides, defriending means someone once wanted to not see you again, even on Facebook. Why would you want to go back to that?
So. If you refuse to accept my blanket rule that you should NEVER refriend someone, here’s an extra test you can give yourself to see if your hypothetical refriending will be the actual worst or merely mostly disastrous: Ask yourself, Does the fact that this person unfriended me make me mad? Be honest! If the answer is yes — if you feel prickly angry, or spiteful, or even just hurt in a way you cover up with creative swearing — then you, my darling Facebooker, aren’t ready to refriend. A final word of caution: The notebook of reasons didn’t work. And as for my Gchat pal? I’ll quote him here: “She did not accept my friend request.”
What do I do if I accidentally favorite a tweet? Do I unfavorite? Is that mean?
If an accidental Facebook “like” is analogous to banging on the front door of the wrong house — in which case I have, in the past, recommended clicking “unlike” to rectify your error, even if doing so is only symbolic and the knocks have already been heard — an accidental Twitter favorite is akin to reflexively greeting a stranger you bump into on the sidewalk: I recommend you just accept it and keep walking. Don’t try to take back the fact that you just said “Oh, hey!” out loud to someone you don’t know. It’ll only get weirder.
A Twitter favorite is just not as personal as a Facebook like. (SOME are personal — “I seal this yellow star with a whispered kiss.” — but so, so many aren’t.) It’s also, I think, more ambiguous: People favorite things they appreciate/love, sure, but they also favorite things they want to remember to look at later, things that merely acknowledge a topic they too have an interest in, or replies they see but don’t feel like replying to. This creates a lot more room for interpretation, which is normally very frustrating, but is, in your case, a gift. Most people are too tired to think about what every last favorite they receive could mean. What we know is this: This person is getting a notification from you either way. Unless this person is a sworn enemy, just let the favorite stand.
I recently started dating someone, and things are (were?) going very well, but my maybe-boyfriend has started sending me sexts. They show up on my phone every few days, and I laughed off the first few, but now they’re grossing me out. I’m like, “Ahh, no thank you?” How do I address this with him?
“Please get your dick out of my phone”? Is that a sentence you feel comfortable opening with? I mean, can you even believe that this is a conversation you need to have? You probably can’t, or else you wouldn’t be here. I actually can’t believe it either. Well, it’s one of those I-can-and-I-can’t type of things. Like, I’m IN humanity, I see it; but also everyone is an extraterrestrial alien with abnormal behaviors, and NOT in the good way.
OK, this doesn’t need to be as awkward as you fear. (I hope.) You have options: For a lighter option, next time you get a sext, reply “unsubscribe.” If you are dating someone remotely adjusted, this will prompt SOME kind of reply that starts the conversation of "are we a sexting couple?" At that point you can make it clear that no, you are not, or no, at least not yet. But maybe a real talk would be a better idea. (It definitely would be.) Tell the dude that he’s making you uncomfortable, and that while you like HIM, you don’t like that kind of texting. The way he handles this confrontation is going to let you know whether or not he’s worth keeping around, so pay close attention. If he gets a) defensive, b) mean, c) distant, pull the plug. Respecting boundaries is non-negotiable — in texting AND in real life.
FWD: Halp! is a weekly advice column on how to behave like a person when using technology. Would you like said advice? Email your questions to Katie.
Katie Heaney is a contributing editor at BuzzFeed FWD. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the Internet.
Illustration by Cara Vandermey