Dear Annie: I use Facebook to keep up with relatives and friends, but I hardly post anything — especially not pictures of myself. I am attractive enough, but I'm not photogenic. These days, I find myself having to discreetly ask people at parties and events not to take pictures with me in them. I will be going to a college reunion soon. I don't mind being included in the big group picture, but I've asked the old classmate who will be serving as photographer to keep the camera away from me during the social time. I want to enjoy our time together without worrying what will show up on Facebook the next day.
Why are people so trigger-happy with their phones at every event? When I ask that photos of me not be put online, I often get strange looks, as if to say, "What is wrong with you?" People treat it as if it's a personal problem I need to deal with, implying I'm overly sensitive and ruining the fun. Well, I just don't like the idea of my picture being shown to so many people I don't know. Isn't that OK? Why do I face backlash for that?
Am I the only one who feels this way? Is it now the expectation that if you attend an event, you will be on Facebook? I am to the point of not wanting to go to parties or events because of the rudeness of Facebook lovers. — Don't Shoot
Dear Don't Shoot: Taking and posting photos has become compulsive in our society. We end up living our own lives vicariously, through lenses and screens — documenting everything for the future, totally missing the present. It's a shame.
Know that you can set preferences on Facebook so that people must get your permission before "tagging" you in a photo, but this will only prevent the photos from showing up on your profile; it won't stop them from appearing on the internet. The only way to avert that is by persuading friends to ask before posting, which I think you should continue trying to do. Sure, they might grouse. But if it makes them pause and reflect, even just for a moment, on why they feel the need to archive every second of their lives, you've done them a favor. Keep fighting the good fight, even if you're losing.
Dear Annie: You recently printed a letter from "Justin F," who told about a neighbor who complained that he and his wife had made noise even when they were out of town. It reminded me of my experience with my next-door neighbor. To make a long story short, this elderly woman suffered from auditory hallucinations and believed there were people under her house playing really loud music. (There isn't even crawl space under there.) The sounds she heard were very real for her. She was not trying to fabricate problems. I am not writing to disagree with the way Justin resolved this dilemma — namely, getting a letter from a lawyer stating that she was interfering with their "legal rights of domicile." In fact, I see no alternative. But I wanted to offer a possibility that may not have been considered. — Been There
Dear Been There: True, the resolution of "Justin F.'s" dispute might have been the same either way, but your point is definitely worth considering for the future. It just goes to show that you should always assume the most sympathetic explanation for someone's bad behavior and go from there.
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