Dear Ann Cannon • Growing up I had two best friends, and we considered ourselves the Three Musketeers. It was all for one and one for all. As life unfolded, as it must, we grew apart. Recently, however, we have reconnected on Facebook. It has become clear that one friend is far more conservative, while the other friend is far more liberal than I am. Our Facebook reunions haven’t always been acrimonious between the two, but often they post hateful things that I know offend one another. Both are starting to pressure me to reveal where I stand on issues. As far as I can tell, I’m somewhere in the middle. I do not want to offend either friend. I try posting neutral things on my Facebook page, but that seems to be fodder for one or the other. I try to push “like” on the posts for both friends to show support for them personally, but that seems to make them mad. What should I do to rekindle the kinship of the Three Musketeers?
— (Not) Malcolm in the Social Media Middle
Dear Not Malcolm • Oh, Facebook. I’m curious. How many relationships have you damaged, if not outright destroyed, over the years?
Anyway, Not Malcolm, my first impulse is to advise you to shut down your Facebook account altogether. The people I know who’ve stepped away from FB are happy they did. Short of that, consider reaching out to your friends and telling them that while you value their opinions, you personally prefer not to post about or comment on hot-button topics in a social media setting. Then, if possible, make a plan for the three of you to meet in person, understanding that you’ll probably never be able to rekindle the special friendship of your youth. Still, it would nice to reconnect with one another in real time, right?
Meanwhile, I will say this. Your friends may go along with your decision not to push the “like” button on their posts, but they probably won’t respect it very much. People whose passions are enflamed rarely see neutrality — or even moderation — as a virtue.
Dear Ann Cannon • When I recently got a pedicure, my family gave me a hard time for pampering myself. It was good-natured but actually ended up making me feel guilty. How do I take time for myself and practice self-care without the guilt?
— Do Tell
Dear Do Tell • There are a lot of things in this life a person can feel guilty about. A pedicure isn’t one of them.
Look,everyone should practice a little self-care — whatever that looks like for a given individual. Taking a walk. Reading a book. Going to a movie or a baseball game. Riding a bike. Enrolling in a yoga class. Watching “The Great British Baking Show,” which everybody tells me I should. Self-care helps us reboot mentally and physically. Remind yourself of this the next time you get a pedicure. And also remind yourself that your family can only make you feel guilty if you let them.
So don’t let them.
See you at the nail salon!
Dear Ann Cannon • After reading about toxic bosses in your last column, I could not get to my email fast enough. My solution for this situation is to have a heart attack. Literally. A major heart attack. I was 42 years old with no family history of heart problems. Did this guy (who, by the way, was a cross between Elmer Fudd and Homer Simpson) cause the whole thing? Probably not all of it. I quit a lot of times and he kept offering more money. So, like a fool, I stayed. The money was definitely not worth the month I spent in the hospital. Thanks for letting me vent!
— Been There