DEAR AMY: I come from a large family, and we get together often. Lately I’ve come to dread our interactions. There are always some individuals who never put down their phones. They take pictures and videos from the minute the interaction starts until it finishes. I was recently at dinner with family members and my 77-year-old mother-in-law took out her phone the minute we sat down. She started taking pictures and immediately posting them on Facebook — as we were having dinner! I politely said, “Can we save the pictures until later?” She responded by saying, “My life is an open book, and I don’t care what others know.” I wanted to say, “Well, my life isn’t an open book, and I would prefer people not knowing my every move,” but I didn’t. I feel like it is an invasion of my privacy to have my picture all over FB, Instagram and Snapchat. I attended a birthday party for an uncle of mine. A week later I ran into an old friend who told me she had seen video of me dancing with my uncle. I was so taken aback because another friend had videotaped me without my knowledge and sent it to this friend. If you stand up for yourself and say, “I prefer not to be in the picture/video,” they think you are a party pooper. I feel like all this social media is actually making people less social, and it makes me sad. Do people (like me) who don’t want every move to be public, have any rights?
DEAR UPSET: It seems that while younger people have a reputation for oversharing, older people are actually worse about respecting privacy — both their own, and other peoples’.
This creates not only social, but security concerns.
Yes, you have a right to privacy. No, you will not receive it, certainly not while Granny’s got a Facebook account. And if you are in a public place or at a public event (a restaurant or a party), you don’t really have the expectation of privacy in a legal sense.
Someone should explain to your mother-in-law that telegraphing where you are going and revealing where you are — in real time — creates very real security concerns. By posting constant updates about her whereabouts, she has just saved a burglar the trouble of casing her house (or yours) before he robs it.
You should stick up for yourself and for your right not to be photographed without your consent. You should state, out loud, that your life is most definitely not an open book.
You may be branded a party pooper, but I know many people who would gladly sit at your table — where there is at least a shot at having a privately enjoyed conversation.
DEAR AMY: My husband — my best friend of 30 years — has terminal cancer. My sister says I’ve already begun the grieving process. Are there things I can do to prepare myself for a loss of this magnitude? I feel emotionally exhausted by the looming fear.
DEAR GRIEVING: I’m so sorry you are going through this.
My own experience with grief was that, like your sister, I thought I could “pre-grieve” before my own loss was complete.
I was wrong. Grief hits everyone differently; it envelops some people in rolling waves, while others walk the path in more predictable ways.
My main suggestion is that you deliberately shelve your grief for later, and do your very best to LIVE NOW. As your husband experiences his illness, you should look — and treasure — tiny moments of togetherness. Write love letters to one another. Look at photo albums. Listen to the pop hits of your youth. Walk toward this uncertain horizon together, hand in hand, even if you are strolling in the hospital ward, pulling an IV pole alongside you.
Regret amplifies grief. Don’t add this burden to your loss. Live and love now. Grieve later.
DEAR AMY: I was amused by the letter from “Wondering,” the man who wanted to know how to tell potential romantic partners that he lived with his parents. When I met my husband, he coyly described his living situation as being a “caretaker for a retired couple.” We had a laugh when he came clean later: he lived in his parents’ basement! Though it wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t forever. And I developed a special relationship with his parents in the meantime!
DEAR BETTY: No wonder you married him; this is genius-level wit.