#1070: “(un)Following a friend’s divorce in real time on social media.”

Hi Captain,

This is a Facebook Etiquette question. I have a friend who is really more of an acquaintance; we have met face-to-face and worked semi-together on a project a looooooooong time ago, but I haven’t seen him in years and only follow his life on social media. He is a musician in a mid-sized city where we both live and is not blowing up the charts or anything, but he’s fairly well-known.

He recently announced that he and his wife of several years are getting divorced. He did it like this: He tagged her in the post and then asked everybody he’s connected with on Facebook to share their thoughts about their divorce (with the assumption being they would all be like, “that’s bullshit!,” I guess?). Since then, he’s written a few more posts that seem to be intended to hurt or embarrass her. The tone is very much, “She doesn’t know how great she had it/I was too good for her anyway,” and his friends are mostly supportive … of him … and no one (yet) has asked him why he is airing all this dirty laundry in public if he’s such a great guy. I’m really tempted to be the first.

I’ve never actually met this woman and she has no idea who I am. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s musical career has expanded his friend network to the point where there are probably lots of people like me who don’t know them as a couple but who are familiar with him and his work. (And I am a female, in case that matters or changes things.)

But I am unsettled and bothered by what he is posting, and I wonder what would be the most ethical thing to do in this situation.
– Ignore him and his posts until it blows over
– Unfriend him and let him follow his course
– Point out that a “nice guy” who’s actually nice wouldn’t do this to a significant other, soon-to-be-divorced or not

Would there be any sense in doing that to show his almost-ex-wife that not everyone who reads it is swallowing this nonsense, or is that just wishful thinking on my part? I’m almost positive it’s just wishful thinking but I thought I’d ask anyway. She seems like a nice person and she isn’t responding at all to what he’s saying/doing online (probably a good move on her part), but I feel like someone (maybe a therapist?) should tell this guy he isn’t being classy or awesome right now, he’s being emotionally manipulative and possibly even emotionally abusive.

What do you think?

I really miss LiveJournal of the early 2000s sometimes. (And yes I know it still technically exists and I about Dreamwidth and alternatives, don’t @ me. The culture changed.)

PSEUDONYMS were our friends.

FILTERS were our friends. LOCKED POSTS were our friends. In ye olden days a guy could wail at the internet all day and get love/tough love from his inner circle without crossing the streams of business and friendship and family and people he met years ago (plus that one high school teacher that he’s not sure he even took a class with).

Let’s be clear: I think people have the right to tell the truth about their own experiences. Like, I don’t think you have to hide it if you are really sad or keep it a secret if someone mistreated you or pretend that things are amicable. And I’ve definitely seen some posts that made me cringe for a second and think “Welp, I have no idea what to say, time to keep scrolling.” Even if I can see a post someone made it doesn’t mean that I’m The Audience for that post, you know what I mean? (See: Every time one of my former students posts something totally Punk or Metal and then their mom comments to say “Did you remember to pack your lunch, sweetie?”) We are all That Awkward Person Who Shared Too Much sometimes, and I like to think we make allowances for people in a painful spot and forgive and overlook a ton of awkwardness.

But there’s a difference between letting friends know what’s up with you –

“Hey, X and I are splitting up, and things are very much not cool between us. I added you to this filter because I trust you and value your sympathetic ear, and I need to be able to vent about all this sometimes, but I totally understand if you don’t want to see it in your feed right now, we’ll catch up another time.”

-Versus tagging your ex so that you are not only letting everyone in their life know that you hate them now, you are basically inviting folks to flame & harass them.

If you just wanna skip straight to unfriend/unfollow/block, the Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys strategy won’t make anything worse than it already is, and you’ll give The Aggrieved an opportunity to move on to the posting-passive-aggressive-Word-Porn quotes about realizing who your REAL friends are Stage of Breakup Grief. Be free, Letter Writer! Be free!

You could say something privately, but…hrmmmm…

I’m wary.

The thing about engaging with a direct message, something nice like:

“Hey buddy, I saw that things are real rough right now, and I’m so sorry. Have you been able to find a counselor to talk to?” or “I know everything sucks right now, but I’m worried that putting it all over Facebook is gonna be something you regret down the road”

…is that there is a 99.99% chance that he will decide that you are his brand new listening ear to dump divorce stuff on, and then you’ll have to unfriend/block him anyway after you engaged. My predictions about how likely he is to be good at considering the audience, respecting boundaries, etc. are decidedly not optimistic. And, since you mentioned that you are female, raise that “not optimistic” prediction to “HE WILL 100% START TEXTING YOU TO DUMP ALL HIS FEELINGS AND 85% TRY TO GET YOU TO TOUCH HIS NEWLY SINGLE NAKED BODY ABORT ABORT ABORT.” If you don’t have the emotional energy or closeness or desire to become his sounding board, don’t open up your direct messages to being his sounding board.

Which leaves you with “Public Engagement + Let Him Possibly Unfriend You?” as a possible course of action. Find the most recent shitpost, or wait until the next time he does this, and post something like this to the thread:

“Hey [Name] it sounds like things are really tough right now, and I’m so sorry. I really value working with you, and I’m very concerned when I see you tag [Ex] in public posts like this. You’re setting her up for bullying by your fans and yourself up for a lot of awkwardness when industry folks can see your posts about this. I hope you’ll accept my sympathies on such a tough situation as well as this gentle reminder to lock certain stuff down with privacy filters for your inner circle, especially while everything is still so raw.” 

Elements:

  • Remind him that you know him in a work context and mention work/business/”the industry” as much as possible.
  • Suggest that his is making a regrettable error rather than doing something deliberately mean (even if you suspect otherwise).
  • Give him a simple and face-saving way to correct this in the future. You’re not saying “Don’t be upset” or “Don’t talk about it” just, “Consider the audience.” “Don’t cross the streams.” “Hey, you’re hurting, it happens to the best of us, but please take a second to protect your privacy so that this really sad thing isn’t following you into your business relationships long after this really awful time is over.” 

Is it perfect? No. Is it gonna fix the overall situation, especially if his whole aim is to bully her? No. If you say something publicly, is he gonna transfer his anger at her to being pissed off at you for a minute? Might could. Is one of his buds gonna yell at you for sticking your nose in? Sure. Is it gonna devolve into a weird argument about how you should have said something privately instead of commenting on the public thread that is gonna make you smack your forehead with the irony of it all? You know him better than I do, but, yeah, probably.

Even if alllllllllllllllll those annoying things happen as a result of your posting, I guarantee that you are not the only person cringing at his behavior and wishing they had a way to shut it down. It’s 100% okay (and in fact recommended) if you just want to drift away, but I think you’d be doing him and everyone he knows a favor by saying something where everyone can read it before you bow out.

159 comments
  1. I’m kinda mean, so I’d do public engagement once and then drop HIM. ;p

    • I should add, by public engagement i totes mean “Gosh, I can’t IMAGINE why she’d think you were anything other than a gentleman” and peace out.

    • Cyberwulf said:

      Yep, I’d be tempted to say something like “Wow it sure is smart of you to talk trash about your ex with your real name and photograph right there”.

      • Mookie said:

        I’m a burn-it-to-the-ground sort, so I’d tag him and then explain to my followers why I’m no longer following him (without mentioning the ex-spouse by name), being careful to highlight how much fun he’s missing out on now that he’s blocked from viewing your content. Then I’d introduced a replacement acquaintance who’s in a band or does some kind of public performing art and encourage people to pay money to see the new friend do their thing.

  2. Rhoda said:

    All I have to add is, I’ll bet that everything he posts convinces his soon-to-be-ex-wife that she’s absolutely making the right decision.

    • FarmerStina said:

      For reals! If it were me, I would totally say something just like that in the comments of every single one of these posts until I got blocked!
      “And the award for proving her right goes to (insert douche musician’s name here).
      “Wow! This post really proves that she was right to dump your ass!”
      And so on. But I’m not a nice person 😛

    • goddessoftransitory said:

      His ex AND her attorney. Public harassment ain’t a good settlement look.

      • Cyberwulf said:

        She could very well be keeping quiet because her attorney has advised her to let him (metaphorically, obviously) hang himself.

        • Redgirl said:

          Yup. Don’t respond, just document.

      • Fishmongers' Daughters said:

        Yup. My sister’s emotionally abusive ex is occasionally emailing her a feelingzbomb in which he drops the charade of civility and vomits his narcissism all over her. He calls her names, he acts like she can’t be trusted to run her own life, etc. She has not once responded in kind, or with anything less than distant civility. And this has been going on for a year and a half now. Those emails are going to be making an appearance at their next court date this month.

    • dufmanno said:

      Also, the soon to be ex wife is probably saving and printing out every single post for her divorce lawyer. The more this guy guns for her, the better her case.
      As far as engaging this guy on Facebook, I would personally give him a little jab and then bow out because behavior like this sucks.
      Not sure if the original poster wants the headache that might transpire afterward though. Someone leaving their marriage implosion out there for Facebook to see is someone who might not care about putting a poster on blast.

  3. LW and Divorcing Facebooker aren’t close friends, so I would advise “unfollowing” him on FB and not participating at all. I think it’s more the job of his closer circle of friends to advise him to tone it down, keep the dirty laundry unaired, and not show everybody exactly why his ex is divorcing him. It’s hard to watch a trainwreck (I can see his ex screenshotting everything and using it against him, for example), but some people gotta wreck their own trains.

    Somebody who’s going to take his divorce to FB is somebody who may be willing to drag LW into drama if LW starts engaging him, even if what LW would say innocuous, reasonable things.

    • Belle Starr said:

      I agree. Nope on outta there.

    • Seconded. He’s clearly making the divorce All About Him and will relish any chance to use extra “drama” in his little Me Me Me stage show. And he will blow it up into drama, even if the message from LP is polite. The fact that she’s not in his close circle means he might well see their aquiantance as a bridge worth burning in order to score more points with his audience.

    • sofar said:

      Co-signing this comment. He wants drama. If LW posts anything, she will be rewarding his behavior.

      • Add me to this cosigning train.

        Not your theme park, LW. Not your dinosaurs.

        There’s nothing wrong with feeling for the ex in this situation, but feeling for her doesn’t mean taking on emotional labor for her.

        Also, if you don’t want to block the guy completely, I think FB has a “mute” function?

        • Angel said:

          Hey I just laughed myself silly over “not your theme park, not your dinosaurs” and I think I’m switching to that one because it’s just too funny. Thanks!

          • I wish I could take credit, but a non-Awkwardeer friend of mine came up with it just after Jurassic World came out but seriously knock yourself out. 🙂

            Seriously. Not literally.

        • johann7 said:

          OMG, you just reminded me that DinoPark Tycoon exists; my night will be spent getting an MS-DOS emulator running and browsing abandonware collections.

      • PrairieChick said:

        The phrase, “narcissist looking for supply” comes to mind. This dude is looking for attention, sympathy, and a bunch of other rewards. He appears to have no boundaries. Nope-ing out of contact with him is the sanest and safest option. Why hold on to what seems to be the human equivalent of a hand grenade?

        Let the closer friends, wife’s lawyer, industry insiders, public relations consultants, and police (if things get really bad) do the advising and counseling. These folks have much more impact than a casual friend.

      • Bloo said:

        Sadly, I have to agree. I wouldn’t be embarrassed to point out the drawbacks of airing his dirty laundry, even if his fans started piling on me or I was blocked.

        Chances are, with the musician displaying this level of poor judgment, he’s not going to have an epiphany to the lone voice of dissent in his echo chamber.

      • I'll come up with a clever name later...maybe. said:

        Agreed. I can see his response being along the lines of “this is MY facebook page and if you don’t like it, there’s the unfriend button” followed by a “seems my ex is sending people after me now…wah wah I’m a victim in this”

        • Yolanda B. Cool said:

          Oh God, yes. He will 100% feel like he’s the real victim here.

    • Allison said:

      Also, I don’t know what kind of scummy, aggressive trash people this dude is friends with, but if he thinks this is an acceptable way to act, I suspect it’s because he has friends who have also acted this way. If you call him out publicly, lord knows who might crawl out of the woodwork and say all sorts of nasty things to defend their buddy.

      • Just when you thought things couln’t get nastier…

        • Allison said:

          Pits of nasty are often much deeper than they appear . . .

          • This is a very good point. Just another reason to think long and hard before you jump into one.

      • sofar said:

        Absolutely. People vent on Facebook because they think they’re preaching to the choir and will get validation. I’ve seen instances where the lone person intervenes with, “Actually I don’t think you are in the right.” And it gets ugly, with the original poster being like, “Um I barely know you, wtf” and their friends piling on and sticking up for them. So the intervention only serves to validate the jerk’s view even more because they can be like, “This crazy person came in MY profile and attacked me but look at how many of my Real Friends are on MY side.”

        • Cactus said:

          Yeah, precisely. I’ve seen this exact situation play out so many times–it’s one of many reasons why I’m so hyper-vigilant about privacy settings, even among my friends list.

          • Detective Rosa Diaz said:

            yep! This happened to me when someone bragged about stealing from a convenience store because the line was too long. I pointed out how shitty and entitled it was and said something about how it was an especially bad look for a white guy in light of Trayvon, etc. to brag about committing a literal felony on Facebook, and people … did not like me.

        • Leonine said:

          Re piling on, if this guy is a public figure, he’s prolly got a stan or two (or ten) who are panting for a chance to win his attention and approval. I don’t think broham here is the one to worry about. No matter how mild the LW’s rebuke, it could be a very tempting target for those who want to Defend! His! Honor! It sounds like he’s really acting out, and he might be petty and vindictive enough to “accidentally” doxx the LW, in which case the wolves will really be out of the walls. At best, he’ll just delete the post immediately. There is very little good to be done here, LW. Is this really the hill you want to die on? Alternate suggestion: Vaguebook the fucker. Write a long-ass post about drama queens airing their dirty laundry. Name no names. Tag no petty man-babies. Just say your piece, but maintain plausible deniability. Best case scenario: he sees himself and changes his ways. Worst case: he throws a pity party on *your* page, where you call the shots: “Wow, dude. I was speaking pretty generally there–not everything is about you, you know–but if you see yourself in what I said, maybe you should reflect on that.” Most likely: he won’t respond at all. Which. Yeah. Good.

      • EchoFlower said:

        It sounds like the LW is facing a choice here between being another bystander (to probable bullying and maybe even abuse) or becoming a potential target of said bullying. If she says nothing and unfollows or unfriends this guy, then she’s a bystander. (I’m reminded of the Kitty Genovese murder and the discovery of the Bystander Effect. So many people overheard the murder, but everyone assumed either that it wasn’t their place to get involved or that somebody else had already called the cops.) If she uses the Captain’s script, then she’s likely to have to do a lot of emotional work withstanding this guy’s, and his supporters’, attacks. In an absolute worst case scenario, there could even be real-life doxxing involved, but I consider that very, very unlikely. Probably, LW can use the Captain’s script then block any nasty responses and that’ll simply be the end of it for LW.

        If the soon-to-be-ex-wife was being abused during the marriage, then she might be pretty isolated, and the support of a stranger on the internet could mean the world to her. If the guy is lashing out on FB now because he’s actually the victim of her abuse (unlikely, but not impossible), then a reminder about professional problems down the road for him would still be useful. If there was no abuse prior to the divorce talk, the fact remains that this guy’s close friends’ don’t appear to be curbing his inappropriate sharing, as is their job, so somebody else needs to address it. If LW feels up to the task, that “somebody else” could be she. If not, LW, no guilt; this isn’t your job and your own needs should come first.

        • bad at screen names said:

          Just as an FYI the Kitty Genovese legend as it’s come to be is pretty exaggerated. There’s a Netflix doc called Witness that debunks it pretty well.

          • JenniferP said:

            True.

            The overall sentiment, which I get, is that sometimes speaking up doesn’t change anyone’s mind or fix the situation, but it does something for you to know that you tried, that you didn’t stay silent, that you weren’t just a bystander. I think unfollowing/blocking, etc. is the path of least resistance but I get the instinct to go down fighting.

          • johann7 said:

            That said, despite the case that motivated research into it being widely misreported, the Bystander Effect HAS been validated.

            Although I’ve seen cases of doubling-down and wagon-circling like those above, I’ve personally had more experiences where people back ME up once I give them permission to object by being the first one (I decided to stop letting sexist and racist comments slide for the sake of not making waves a decade ago now, impelled by the insights of my Women’s Studies courses). The coercive pressure to not challenge bigots is strong, but breaking that norm (when safe) is key to shifting the culture toward greater intolerance of bigotry.

      • myswtghst said:

        This would honestly be my biggest concern. If he’s getting a good deal of unquestioned support on these shitposts, those same friends/fans may decide to come after OP if she does speak up publicly. I’d still be tempted to do it, but it’s a consequence worth considering.

      • Yolanda B. Cool said:

        This is my concern – that by calling this dude out on his inappropriate behavior, she’s going to find herself set up as the “surrogate emotional punching bag” for this guy and all his friends/fans who condone this behavior.

        LW, I would skip the drama and block this guy.

    • Maybe he wants drama, but it seems like he wants validation even more.

      It’s Facebook; anybody who goes off on the LW can be blocked.

    • anon said:

      Yeah, came here to post this. I appreciate the Captain’s sentiment that someone should maybe remind this guy that it’s shitty what he’s doing (and will make things bad for him later), but LW isn’t his friend. Not her job in this case — as the Captain said earlier: be free, LW! unfollow this dude! and I recommend putting him in FB’s “restricted” list so that he can only see posts that you make public, because bitter, newly-single dudes are not the kind of person I want to give access to even my semi-private life.

    • Honestly, I would just straight up unfriend him. If he actually notices (he probably won’t, it sounds like they really aren’t that good of friends) and asks her why, that may be the time to make a gentle statement about how you didn’t feel comfortable seeing so much of his divorce-related posts, considering your level of closeness and you may check back sometime in the future when things have calmed down somewhat (if you actually would want to check back in at a later date; that part is up to you). I don’t think engaging the behavior in any way will lead to anything productive, so yeah, I’d just peace out.

    • apricity said:

      Yeah, don’t feed the flames of this one. Engaging with it will only make it worse.

    • cartesiandaemon said:

      Yeah. I also vote for not getting involved. *Possibly* a comment saying, “hey, was this supposed to be public” or “hey, really sorry, but don’t tag people in public like that”, but really, if that helped, hopefully someone closer to him would have already done it. I can see the possibility that ex will see the post and feel better that someone pushed back, but I think there’s a big risk you’ll get sucked into a big argument.

      • S.H. said:

        I definitely support the idea of saying “Was this supposed to be public?”

        That’s less likely to get a combative response from this volatile man and his friends, but it does point out that you thin it’s kinda weird that he’s posting it publicly.

    • Light37 said:

      Agreed. Not your circus, not your monkeys. Plus, I can see this person sending his fans to bug you if you do say anything.

    • caraway said:

      Belated concurrence.

      … or mostly. LW, I guess I would suggest you inquire into your motivations in this way: do you WANT to get involved, or do you feel like you SHOULD?

      If it feels good and right to be an avatar of justice on this one, go for it, eyes open.

      But if it’s a double negative like “I’d feel guilty if I don’t”, try to get out from under that training (think about its gendered nature?) and then look for any positive under there.

  4. This is a great response. I always want to say something when this sort of thing happens (which, happily, isn’t often) because such behavior deserves pushback, but I’m never sure if butting in is the right thing to do. If there’s a next time, I’m going to search for this post and steal the public-post idea.

    Incidentally, I did remain silent the one or two times this came up in my own Facebook feed … because other people had already piled on with, “Should you really be sharing this here?” There’s a good chance that you’re not the only person who’s put off.

  5. I'm A Little TeaPot said:

    I also wonder how much fun HER lawyer is gonna have with all of his posts. Really can’t imagine that it’s going to go over well in the legal arena for him.

    • S said:

      Yes this, clearly he isn’t friends with his lawyer on facebook…..

    • goddessoftransitory said:

      No, indeed!

    • Redgirl said:

      I was going to say, he might actually be doing his ex a FAVOR. Let him keep hanging himself, LW, but you don’t have to read that stuff.

    • I’m curious. A lot of people have been saying how toxic social media posts and email are legally inadvisable, but it isn’t illegal to be an asshole. How can stuff like this work against the poster/emailer in court?

      • Bagpuss said:

        Depends on the jurisdiction, but in a divorce case there may be situations where how someone behaves is relevant to issues between them.
        For instance, if you were to apply for an injunction or restraining order, you might not be able to prove that you ex was verbally abusing you when you were alone together, but if you are alleging that they are doing that, and you can produce screen shots of FB posts where they are abusing you to others, then a judge may be more inclined to believe your word over theirs.

        Being an asshole isn’t illegal, but evidence of someone being an asshole may be relevant where you are dealing with more serious issues and can show they are part of a pattern.

        it could also matter where there are children – if you are expressing concerns that a parent will make inappropriate comments to the children about the other parent, showing that they have made such comments in public (including open social media) is relevant.

        in my jurisdiction behaviour is only relevant to a financial settlement in very extreme cases, but it may make a difference in other jurisdictions.

        It might be relevant to costs, if you have to justify why everything is going via your lawyer and you aren’t prepared to discuss things directly with your ex, and things like that.

        In divorce / separation, it’s not normally about things being illegal, it’s about what it reasonable and what is relevant to the issues being decided.

        Although being an asshole may also have some overlap with ‘harassing someone to the point where it becomes a criminal offence’ or abusing someone, or breaching the terms of an exisiting restraining order or injunction.

        • Thanks. 🙂

  6. Belle said:

    One maybe suggestion is the feigned ignorance. “Hey, just to let you know that that post you made today about Ex was totally public. We know how these things can come back to haunt us if they become everyone else’s business so I thought I’d just let you know.”

    Quit possible you’ll get a self defensive reply of “It was public on purpose because she’s a whatever and why shouldn’t I just say what I want?” But I feel like even if you do, you can ignore it that knowing that you said your piece and it might get him to stop being so embarrassing.

    • JenniferP said:

      I like this script a lot.

    • Puck said:

      Yessss, giving somebody a face-saving out is such a beautiful thing to do when someone is totally Making It Awkward.

      • thneedle said:

        I’ve done that before. The person in question didn’t get it, and I had to literally say, “That was giving you a face-saving way to end the conversation.”

        (In this case, a relative was yelling at me on the phone while I was at work, and it all came out of the blue after I texted them a question. I finally said, “I’m at work, I can’t talk right now.” A couple of weeks later we talked more, and I learned that they were angry because I never called again to finish the conversation.” Where they were yelling at me out of the blue. That’s when I had to say that sometimes people need to end a conversation in a face-saving way for everyone. Which shouldn’t have been a surprise to them! Enh, they’re going thru a hard time right now and I’m happy to give them lots of slack, but I’m not interested in being yelled at, ever.)

    • Ms. Jynx said:

      I like this too!

    • I like this script and this approach.

    • hummingbear said:

      Plus there is *some* possibility, especially if he’s not a big social media user, that he is just Facebook Clueless, or temporarily rendered less-rational by all the feelings. Some people have a harder time than others remembering that that-guy-you-met-once-five-years-ago but never see any evidence of on Facebook, is in fact part of the “public” audience, and that the algorithm may capriciously serve your posts up to him, yet not to your best friend.

    • cartesiandaemon said:

      Ooh good idea. I might try “[expression of sympathy] Was this supposed to be public? It sounds really personal.”

      I like offering people ways to back down gracefully, but my intuition is that offering the suggestion that it might have been supposed to be private can provoke less defensiveness than assuming it was supposed to be private.

      Although given she doesn’t know him well, I think defriending and not getting involved is better.

  7. S said:

    If you do post something, and I think you would be acting in the common good of decency on the internet if you did, you can also make liberal use of the “Unfollow post” option. I use this a lot when I accidentally engage in political discourse with libertarians. It’s all the joy of declaring your opinions, with none of the notifications!

    • empathybadger said:

      “Accidentally engage in political discourse with libertarians”! I have exactly that problem! I want to know more about this! I had no idea it was a thing libertarians tend to do, thought it was just my friend’s husband! Is his style not just him but a whole “thing”? (I know he spends way too much time in Reddit groups and brings those arguments to me and my Facebook page as if I had been making someone else’s argument to him.)

      • Nope. It’s not just libertarians. People all across the political spectrum do that.

      • S said:

        I think people who tend to be libertarians often tend to be more argumentative by nature. But the plural of anecdote is not data. Certainly, people all across the political spectrum can be super argumentative.

        I am just not interested in hearing the opinions of libertarians, having once been one, and then recognized that I find their philosophy limited and counter to my own morality. So, when I accidentally engage in a discussion with someone and they start to explain to me that taxation and regulation are a form of violence, I un-follow the discussion with prejudice.

      • B2 said:

        See, I do consider myself vaguely libertarian (maybe Democratic Freedom Caucus?), but I hate arguing politics most of the time because of all the emotionnand hyperbole that tends to get injected. In the interests of not derailing too far or catering to the stereotype, I’ll just say I think it’s endemic to arguing policy with anyone who strongly identifies with a political group.

    • johann7 said:

      That is my favorite feature Facebook added, as I tend to drop one-and-done truth bombs with some frequency.

      LOL@libertarians X-D

  8. Unfollow with prejudice. Do not engage, LW.

  9. vivinator said:

    Yeah I gotta agree with a previous poster and advise you to say “not my circus, not my monkeys”. I’ll bet his ex-wife is handling this in stride if she’s not engaging with his posts. I don’t think you’d be doing her any favors by adding more third party involvement to their divorce.

    • Cora said:

      Five bucks says his wife isn’t even on social media right now, but rather just calling members of her Team Her, getting sleep and exercise, and letting him make a fool of himself. At least, I hope she is.

      • Guava said:

        Or, if there did happen to be a pattern of abuse, hopefully screen-shotting his public shaming of her and putting it in her ‘EX is an asshole’ dossier.

        • Cactus said:

          I mean, if these posts are particularly nasty, I hope she doesn’t have to wade through them every day. Hopefully she has someone on her side gathering evidence, though.

  10. Allison said:

    Oh man, I’ve been that person. I’ve posted all sorts of butthurt statuses and passive aggressive word porn after getting my heart broken. In college.

    I give people a pass on this if they’re under the age 24. They’ll learn the hard way and eventually they’ll figure out it’s a crappy thing to do, and makes perfectly decent people, who would have kept being your friends, want literally nothing to do with you ever again. After a certain age, there’s just no excuse for it, and if he’s doing it after a divorce, my guess is he wasn’t ready to be married and his now-ex figured that out and rightfully noped out of that situation.

    Since he’s not a close friend right now, and because any attempt to become a good friend right now may put you in a tough spot as CA outlined, I’d just unfollow him for 30 days, see how he’s doing, repeat if necessary. Or unfollow him indefinitely.

    If you must say something, wait/look for a “waaah, no one cares about meeee” status to say “hey man, I’m sure plenty of people do! but this is an awkward, delicate situation and I think people just wanna stay out of it and give you space to heal, saying the right thing is tricky!” If he doubles down, leave it alone.

    • Zoikies said:

      I am middle-aged and I have had a couple of friends, one younger and one my age, plus a younger cousin, who like(d) to post passive aggressive word porn about “real friends”. So thanks for saying that after the age of 24 you no longer get a pass on this! I actually wrote the captain when the older friend posted PAWP re: people ghosting on her. As someone else responding to this post said “not a good look” for a middle-aged person especially.

      I was raised by wolves and my “is this normal/healthy?” filter is a bit broken, so I like to thank the captain and you for noticing that those PAWP are exactly that. In my head, I was all like “does anyone not notice that posting on FB about ‘real friends’ is not a way to win real friends?!” Stop stop stop already!!!

      And yeah, the friends and now ex-friends. I have hope for the cousin.

  11. Saint Clair said:

    His actions are pretty reprehensible. Hurt or wounded feelings – even utter heartbreak – do not justify his behaviour.

    I DO hope his wife has retained good legal counsel, and that she is saving screenshots of all of this.

    It is common that abusive dudes will attempt to deflect attention away from their behaviour onto their victim. It really sounds like he is simultaneously trying to hurt her and smear her character. He’s sure crowing about what a “good guy” he is – by acting like a bad guy.

    I don’t know that reaching out to him, to kindly suggest that he reign in his posts, is going to change anything about the way he thinks or acts.

    You mention that you don’t know his wife, except to know that she exists. Is there any way that you could reach out to her, probably anonymously, to suggest that she needs to document his actions ? And include some local resources for abused women, legal clinics, etc. ?

    It’s impossible to know the back story here – was he cheating on her ? Did she ask for a divorce because she wants to get away from his abuse ? Is she actually a horrible person who has really hurt this man ? That is unknowable.

    In my peripheral experience with musician dudes, complete strangers cross the street to gush over them, there are always free drinks, merchandise, and loads of social capital that get heaped upon them. Strangers don’t know if musician dude donates his time and money to worthwhile causes, and is truly an upstanding citizen or if musician dude won’t help with anything at home, is psychologically abusive, and has multiple secret sex partners on strings. People are really emotionally moved by music and performance, and want their responses to validate the performer’s inherent goodness. Good performer = good guy, right ? And this “good guy” is demanding all this validation from friends and strangers in public via FB !

    Without knowing the circumstances, I can make some guesses that the spouse of musician dude was supportive and loving and patient. She might have stood in the background to support his efforts, while this was not exactly reciprocated. I hate to say it, but I’ve observed many supportive female partners of musicians just get left in the dust – usually cruelly – when musician dude chases some better opportunity for himself – not the marriage or partnership or his kids. See the film “Control” (2007) about Ian Curtis for example.

    He is DOING this, you can’t reason him out of this. Definitely unfriend the dude and back away.

    • Carpe Librarium said:

      I wondered about contacting his ex-wife too, as a small gesture support.

      But, she’s already dealing with the divorce, her ex trashing her on Facebook and possibly also messages from her ex’s Facebook audience blurbling their unsupportive opinions at her.

      One more random person whom she has never met hitting up her Messenger inbox is probably going to be more mental space cluttered up, no matter how well-intentioned.

      With any luck, the soon-to-be ex-wife has her own supportive friends and Team Her to help her through.

      • JenniferP said:

        Would 100% leave this poor lady that you don’t know alone, even if the intent is to be helpful. If she’s blocked the guy or blanked him out the last thing she needs are reminders of his hate getting through.

        • Mookie said:

          With few exceptions, using someone’s well-known misery as an opportunity to become an acquaintance or reintroduce yourself if you were once friends is, as you say, really inadvisable. People do it all the time, and most have completely benign intentions, but… no. If they’re weren’t interesting enough before this, revert to default mode. She doesn’t need a reminder of him by having one of his (former?) friends contact her, particularly through the medium he’s now using to harass her.

          • Saint Clair said:

            I am not suggesting that LW should contact her to be her new BFF, etc. – or to attempt any sort of friendship.

            When my ex instigated his legal terrorism against me, I was completely blindsided. He had already infiltrated and undermined several of my close friendships, so I was socially isolated. I was also severely under-employed and poor when he struck. It was really terrifying and demoralizing. BUT – I had previously been through an intense legal situation with HIM and his former business partners, so I was already aware of the need to document everything. I had also received counselling via a clinic for abused women, so I could separate my previous feelings for him from his abusive actions towards me.

            I am suggesting the briefest contact that only contains basic information, like links or pamphlets. If his ex has been isolated, gaslighted and manipulated – which abusers commonly do to their victims – she may not know how to protect herself in a legal context. This means saving all emails, texts, photos, etc. – and not destroying or discarding his personal papers like credit card receipts, or bank documents. She may not know where to seek support, or how to access free or low cost legal advice, or to seek multiple opinions. Many women have a huge resistance to naming abuse as abuse, and want to believe what happened in their relationship was the fault of both people. Many women are afraid to speak about the depth of their fear, or about the threats their ex has made against them. When a relationship with an abusive man is ending, this is the most dangerous time for the woman, and often results in serious injury or death. This threat is real.

            If you read through the comments on any post on ChumpLady.com, it becomes clear that many people (mostly women) learned to document the situation, when discovering and divorcing a cheating spouse (most of whom were psychologically abusive). Some discovered the cheating via emails or texts – or from hotel receipts. These are horrible things to discover – but very important to save.

            My documentation – mostly photographs – really saved my ass. My ex made a bunch of wild accusations about me in his application to the court, and claimed I had caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the mutually owned home. Yet he had no documentation of this at all – no statements from inspectors or contractors, no photographs, or even a description of the alleged damage. I had photos of the property from the time we purchased it together, including after the time that he left, and the improvements I had made. I had various realtors visit the property, so there were people from outside my family or social group who could give a credible statement about the property’s condition, value, etc. This documentation, in response to his court application, caused an immediate change in the position of the ex and his lawyer, and led to a much better outcome for me.

            Honestly – even a copy of “Why Does He Do That ?” by Lundy Bancroft with a few pamphlets stuck inside, mailed to the musician’s ex might save her life – or at least her sanity. She might also throw it in the trash without looking at it. Who knows ?

    • J said:

      Yes to this!! When I left my husband he immediately became very interested in my friends. Going to their houses, inviting them to things offering them free concert tickets (he is not in the concert biz). He attempted to smear me to everyone. Parents at my child’s elementary school, etc. everyone ended up being either supportive of me by 1. Not telling me at all or 2. Telling me and saying they are here for me or else they would fall for it and say but he’s so sad!!! He turned much more ugly once I separated my bank acct etc and it went from there. This guy’s behavior is not subtle but is similar.

  12. larielera said:

    Wow, I am going through something that is almost EXACTLY the same thing. The person went through a bad breakup, and for a solid three months talked relentless shit about his ex under the guise of “defending my reputation because she’s spreading lies about me.” This person kept it up for a solid half a year. It went far beyond venting. He had an idea that because he felt she had wronged him personally, anyone who wanted to also remain friends with her was insulting him personally.

    Eventually, people began to get tired of it and tell him that we all get dumped at some point in their lives, and it’s time to move on. He didn’t, and then people began to call him out more forcefully for basically trying to isolate the ex and get her fired. By now, the way he has handled this has even cost him contract work. He would not understand what a lot of us told him and the Captain so eloquently phrases as “friendships are not transitive.” What CA said was very true–we all felt the same way about his behavior, but no one wanted to be the first one to say it publicly.

    I would say that if the friend says anything that intimates he is stalking or thinking of harming the ex, call that shit out immediately, screencap it, get the authorities involved, whatever is appropriate. Otherwise it’s a waiting game. He’ll either move on and stop oversharing, or he’ll keep on and people will begin to see through his bullshit.

    • larielera said:

      And, of course, everything he was doing was EXACTLY what he said the ex was supposedly lying about him doing.

      • Saint Clair said:

        DARVO :

        Deny Accusation, Reverse Victim and Offender

        This mnemonic describes psychological projection, which sure sounds like what is going on here…

        • larielera said:

          It was a messy breakup, and they both did each other wrong, but the attempted character assassination went far beyond what both parties and bystanders agree happened.

        • Cactus said:

          I’ve never heard of that before; saving for future reference. It perfectly describes the way I’ve seen some people behave.

      • johann7 said:

        Projection ain’t just a river in Egypt.

  13. GreenDoor said:

    What the LW’s associate doesn’ realize is that he’s revealing way more about himself than just the fact that he’s divorcing!

    I’ve had two ugly divorces play out in my feed. In both cases, I had never met the spouse. I didn’t weigh in at all because, not knowing the spouse, I clearly don’t know the whole story. And, as is often the case in ugly divorces, one or both partners could be exaggerating, lying, or using FAcebook to build their own personal “army.” Not know the other spouse, there is no way I’m getting close to that. I chose to unfollow one and scroll past the other. I think you can have a different response if you actually know both partners or are very, very good friends with the poster.

    BEtween the ugly divorces, the gory details of medical issues, the open details about bankruptcies and foreclosures, and the one fragile soul that puts all the details of her self-help journey out there, I am seriously considering leaving FAcebook. It never ceases to amaze me how willing so many have become to giving up their privacy.

    • BigDogLittleCat said:

      Leave FB! Be free!
      If nothing else, it is a terrible time-suck. And that’s before taking into account that it’s a chimera of hostility, pain, this is what I ate for lunch, and Annual Holiday Letter Filtered My Life Is Wonderful. And even though it’s kind of nice to know that my distant friends are well and went to this nifty place or saw that cool thing, or their kids graduated or someone got married, even the nice ordinary fun news, it’s overwhelming. I don’t have the mental spoons to deal with the day to day details of everyone’s life. It becomes just random factoids, mental noise that crowds out genuine connections. And keep in mind, these are all people I know and like, actual friends, not “Facebook friends.”

      • Kacienna said:

        That’s how Facebook is, for you. Leaving it sounds like a great idea, for you. For me, it’s a way to have meaningful conversations among people who don’t live near each other, to keep loose tabs on how my friends are doing, to share ideas and jokes, to offer and receive support and comfort, and to start getting to know people I seemed to click with at someone else’s event. Of course, I would never push anyone to be on it who didn’t want to do so, or to be more engaged on it than they want, but it fits very well into my life.

        • Traffic_Spiral said:

          Yeah, I work abroad and FB is the only way I know how my nieces look like or who of my old friends are married.

    • Rhoda said:

      Unfortunately, a lot of media outlets have decided to use Facebook for their below the line comment section, to save the trouble of having moderators. It’s made the comments a wild west show full of toxic people for the most part.
      People who have small businesses are often at a disadvantage if they don’t use it as well.

  14. policychick said:

    Oh Facebook….Well I’d echo the Captain’s advice. If you do write him, be direct and as kind as you can.

    I went through something similar, but it was my brother (so much closer connection/entanglement/FAAAAMILY) and it wasn’t his ex but his racism. I wrote him directly/privately via email and basically said, Dude, some of your posts could be construed as racist and you might want to dial that back since you are looking for a job and what not (not that any of his potential employers in Crappy SmallTown Texas might have a problem, but we argue what we can). It actually got pretty ugly and he tossed out the ‘YOU ARE DEAD TO ME/WAIT TIL I TELL DAD/YOU WILL BE DISOWNED’ threats.

    So I guess – pick your battles and scale your response accordingly? I do think you should speak honestly; do it with kindness; and then walk away. There are so SO many things wrong in this world right now, we can only say our piece and work on the things worth putting effort to.

    This was probably not helpful, but it was meant positively! You got this, LW. You know what’s best. Good Luck!

  15. violette said:

    For once, I’m afraid I disagree with the fearless Captain. I think that’s a great script if this guy were Chris from Accounting at work, or a parent of LW’s kid’s friend – someone who was not close to LW, but was some kind of ongoing acquaintance.

    But someone you haven’t seen (or personally called or texted) in years, and never particularly expect to see again? Just unfriend and move on.

    • Tea Rocket said:

      I agree. There’s a nice script upthread that the LW can use if she really wants to say something; it was along the lines of, “You may not realize this, but these posts about your private life are accessible to the wider public. I thought I’d let you know, in case you don’t want people you know only from work (like me) to be able to see them.” Based on their lack of contact or ties to each other, I don’t think the LW has standing to say anything beyond that, at least not without signalling that she would like to become part of this guy’s divorce drama—either in the role of supportive new friend to whom he can vent, or as the busybody who dared to volunteer an opinion and then gets roasted for it by him and his buddies. If it were me, I would definitely just unfollow or unfriend the guy.

    • Christy said:

      Seriously. LW, what are you even gaining by being this guy’s Facebook friend? Will you lose anything by unfriending him? It sure doesn’t seem like it.

    • Traffic_Spiral said:

      Yeah. As a casual acquaintance you really should stay out of it. If it got really mean, misogynistic or something, sure a “not cool” might be in order, but otherwise, just unfollow for a few months.

  16. Once in a while, I post about a wonderful Facebook feature called “scrolling past.” If this guy were a close friend, a private message might be all right, but since he isn’t, just let him get hoist on his own petard.

  17. catherine said:

    I’d simply unfriend him and move on. The guy is a semi-known musician. To me that reads it’s all about audience and a career move. I don’t doubt that artists have genuine relationships but! – fame chasing and the type of personality that goes with it is a hungry beast and you’re firmly in audience land here. Musicians outgrowing their partner from the before fame days is standard. It used to mean fuel for the album, shame it’s now spread to attention fuel on social media.

    Spend your emotional energy wisely, it’s a resource like any other.

  18. cchrissyy said:

    If you post anything on his wall or in reply to something on his wall, he can delete your comment.
    You should probably assume he will do that, and therefore there is no benefit to anybody else from possibly reading your words.
    Maybe it will help you to think that other people may have already done this and you just didn’t see it before they got deleted.

    • shantih said:

      That is an exceptionally solid point. It sounds like he’s trolling for validation on Facebook, and I’d imagine that if you posted anything less than full support and condemnation of his ex, he’d delete it right off. I hadn’t even considered that that might already have happened with other comments, but that would make a lot of sense. LW, you haven’t seen him in years, you never met his wife, you’re not really a part of each other’s lives — you really don’t need to devote any more bandwidth to this than you already have. Unfriend and move on, says I.

  19. I recently noticed that my FB now has an “unfollow for 30 days” option. If there’s a reason you want to keep following this guy but just want to skip all the drama, that might be the trick.

  20. jcosdc said:

    Unfriend, unfriend, unfriend. If you run into the person in real life, go on like normal. I don’t see any point in interjecting, like many others have suggested.

  21. totchipanda said:

    If you do decide to make a comment, be sure to lock down your profile so people you don’t know or don’t approve can comment on your wall or message you. Something in the privacy settings should be able to allow it to only friends or have you approve the posts first. I sincerely doubt this is a guy who posted thoughtlessly and tagged his soon-to-be-ex, and I have no doubt that some of his dedicated followers would not hesitate to come after you for “daring” to disagree with him.

    In your shoes I would just unfollow/unfriend without guilt.

    (I agree about LJ/DW/others. I’m still active on them but the culture has changed a lot. I’m following a different group than I used to and they comment regularly about how the community just isn’t the same.)

  22. Megan M. said:

    Oh, man. Reading this after listening in horror this morning as our regional radio show facilitated some woman calling up a man she’d met on Bumble and demanded to know why he had ghosted her after their one in-person date is just … I completely understand the urge to save someone from humiliating themselves, but it doesn’t sound like you’re close enough to either party in this situation to make much of an impact. I would unfollow him for a while (or quietly unfriend) and wait for the whole thing to blow over.

    • Indoor Cat said:

      Whyyy would a show do this??? What did they think was gonna happen?

      • Megan M. said:

        Erm … ratings? One of the hosts (there are four) was vehemently against it and said it was immature, but they went ahead with it anyway. It went exactly like I’m sure you’re imagining. (Not well!)

        • Light37 said:

          Yeah, I can’t see a good answer no matter what. Maybe they ghosted because “My ex turned up and we’re back together” or “You are a Trump supporter” or “I don’t like how you chew.” Hearing this won’t make you feel better.

    • Cactus said:

      Oh, God. I hate those morning-radio-show personal-life facilitations. They always get so cringy.

  23. Mami 21 said:

    I had a friend who constantly harped on Facebook about his estranged wife, how badly he’d been hurt, how he was bravely rebuilding his life and moving on etc etc, and he was just clearly not over her at all.
    Six months later, he posted a photo of himself and his new wife on their wedding day, and included a dig at his ex wife IN THE CAPTION.

    • Tea Rocket said:

      This is amazing. I’m sure his new wife just loves living in the shadow cast by the ex-wife. I wonder if this guy’s future third wife will get to hear about both Wife 1 and Wife 2 in the photos of her wedding with him, or if he’ll focus all his bitterness on just one of them?

    • MsMildew said:

      I bet that made his new wife feel like he really valued her as a person, and not at all like he was using her to get back at his ex! /sarcasm

      And I bet his ex wiped her brow with a sigh of relief that he wasn’t her problem anymore.

    • johann7 said:

      Gentle reminder that “harp” in this sense is connected to the sexist idea of women as harpies/nags, whatever the gender of the person being described; I suggest “complained” instead.

      • MsMildew said:

        “Griped” would be good in this context as well.

      • Silly said:

        This is not true btw. The 2 words aren’t connected. Harpy comes from ancient Greek “to snatch”, harp is an old Germanic/Saxon word for instrument. To harp on about something comes from a phrase “to harp on one string” i.e. play the harp monotonously.

        • JenniferP said:

          Yep!

  24. Indie said:

    LW I dunno if this helps you, but when I was the wife in question, I blocked him and put my fingers in my ears when people passed on the drama verbally. I asked why they didn’t block him too and they wanted to defend me! Vigourously! Cool, and totally your call, friend or concerned bystander, but let’s all just block him, live in a land where ears don’t bleed and let him figure it out in a land that is elsewhere?

  25. Devin said:

    Facebook really does make this worse, too. It’s not just the absence of granular control… I recall one post where some poor guy I don’t even know got dumped and was venting about it, in a… semi-dignified way? I don’t think anybody got tagged or anything, and he didn’t say anything nasty, it was just a “X is leaving me to be with Y and I think this is raw bullshit” sort of thing. Fair enough, stranger! Sounds rough!

    Problem: I don’t know this guy. I only know… The guy his wife is leaving him for. But apparently some old college classmates do know him, and commented to express sympathy. Why am I seeing this post? Well, several of my friends commented on it, and now here it is.

    Even the worst of the old forgot-to-post-as-friends-only moments didn’t have this problem, y’know? Sure, you had the odd “NO GODS, NO MASTERS, did you call grandma for her birthday?” action, but at least your kid sister’s PTA didn’t see the post just because Mom jumped in.

  26. Fish Food said:

    If it were me, I’d just block him, or comment something like “dude, [ex] seemed fine”, and then block him. You don’t need that drama in your life. This doesn’t need to be complicated.

  27. Bookish Miss said:

    LW…if you recognize my handle, you are 100% not alone in thinking this situation is really really weird. And even if you don’t recognize my handle, and there’s another a copy of my brother in law running around somewhere, know that you STILL are not alone in thinking it’s oversharing and weird.

    My advice, and what I’d do if I weren’t married to the dude’s brother? Filter him out of your feed. Don’t unfriend or block, necessarily, though you can if you want. But unfollowing will let you keep the business relationship without seeing his dirty laundry everywhere.

    Good luck.

  28. ErikAG59 said:

    This makes me glad I have not had a breakup in the Facebook era. And if I do, I hope this thread has some valuable lessons… don’t be that guy.

  29. Cassandra said:

    I think what would make a difference for me in deciding whether to say anything at all would be: are his mean, petty, over sharing posts actually public-public, in the sense anyone on or off Facebook can see them? Or are they shared “just” to his FB friends (and it just feels like the whole world can see them because he has such a large network)?

    If they’re truly public I’d probably say something like the Captain recommended; if they’re technically friends-only I’d probably unfriendly or at least unfollow and wash my hands of it.

  30. Cumin Spice said:

    I like Cap’s advice, and would pretty much support any options besides a) reaching out to the Ex, whom you don’t know or b) participating in the Ex-bashing (not that you would, but a pox on anyone who would participate in the jerk’s pile-on). Another thought/option – this is happening on a semi-public forum, so AngryMan isn’t the only audience. I doubt you’re going to change his mind or behavior, but there’s something to be said for people stepping up and saying “this is not cool.” I wouldn’t stay and argue, but I’ve become a fan of calling out bad behavior.

    • MsMildew said:

      I’ve also become a really big fan of calling out bad behavior. I am tired of this bullshit, I don’t think that’s something that should only be left to the “appropriate” people in his life. That just feels like “not my problem!”-ing things in a way that leads to things like the bystander effect or turning a blind eye to things because “it’s between the couple”, “not taking sides”, or whatever hogwash people used to use (and still do) to excuse bullying, DV, abuse etc.
      The times I look back at with burning shame are not the ones where I actually spoke up, even for a stranger, it’s the times when I COULD have, and SHOULD have, but didn’t. 😢

  31. megpie71 said:

    LW, while I agree with you someone should probably be telling this guy to cool it in public, not tag his ex into his Facebook posts and so on, I have a question for you: why should this “someone” be you? Why are you proposing to step up and do this emotional labour for someone you admit is barely an acquaintance?

    (As someone else pointed out, if nothing else, this guy’s lawyer is probably going to be pointing out the same thing to him, if they’re even slightly social-media savvy).

  32. Jenn said:

    Cap I think this wasn’t good advice. The LW barely knows the dude and doesn’t know his wife. Playing the White Knight [and I hate using that term] is far less likely to get him to go ‘my God you’re right’ and more likely to bring out the ‘I’m feeling so attacked right now’ reaction. The person who’s job it is to tell the musician to chill the fuck out isn’t the LW and they really shouldn’t sign up for it. Unfollow, block and let this go.

    • Helen Damnation said:

      I think you’re right that it’s unlikely to change the dude’s mind, but it might help LW’s peace of mind to know she Did Something. There’s a limit on what she’s able to do here, not being close to either of them, but she doesn’t sound comfortable with letting this bad behaviour go unchallenged, which I completely get.

      • Jenn said:

        I totally get that, but I’ve also been that person that had Do Something and I’m hard pressed to think of a time when it made things better. Most of the time all it did was make my life harder. Letting things go is a talent I think we all need to cultivate. Especially when it comes to personal relationships.

  33. An ex did something very similar to me. When I broke up with him, he posted flame comments about me and wondered aloud to his 1000 or so friends how I could POSSIBLY leave him, the perfect boyfriend, how I could be so cruel, etc. Of course, everyone poured on the sympathy in the comments and not one person called him out or suggested that maybe this wasn’t an appropriate facebook rant topic. His posts made me feel unwelcome in our entire social scene, and I felt very, very alone for a while afterwards.

    In fact, this guy was emotionally abusive and a tall glass of Nope. I think the behaviour described in this letter pretty much fits the emotional abuser profile (tagging her in the posts???? what????). It’s meant to intimidate and manipulate the ex partner using public opinion as a weapon. Hopefully he’s otherwise a not-bad person and this is just an isolated instance of him being a whiny baby in public, but usually not-bad people have better taste and better judgement.

    LW, if you feel so inclined, you would be doing a good thing by being the one to call this guy out publicly in a comment. There’s a good chance that this is causing his ex a lot of stress, and it would be nice for her to know that not everyone thinks this guy’s posting habits are not okay. Even if the ex wife is a terrible, ungrateful person who didn’t know how good she had it (doubt it), well…You’re still right to call him out, because what he’s doing is immature and tasteless, and there are better ways to ask for support.

    The Captain’s script is good.

  34. J said:

    I think LW sounded more interested in knowing if it’s worth saying something for the ex’s benefit. And I’m with you, LW, she’s definitely going high to his low. I would definitely not engage this guy he is unlikely to listen as Cap says. If you want you might consider tagging or better pm-ing the ex with: we don’t know each other and I’m not interested in your private business but just wanted to extend my empathy and support for what you’re being forced to endure on FB. Or something like that. She’s your audience not him. Why risk the poo storm landing on your head by calling him out or even addressing him? He’s being a douche. Sounds like she left him and he’s trying to commit character assassination. Who knows what is really going on he could be darker than you realize. Do not engage…. But you can always send her a pm. Just the one…. Bc for all you know she’s weird too?

    • thneedle said:

      > Sounds like she left him

      Came here to say this. This is not a mutual-decision kind of divorce. This is “She left for obvious good reasons and he’s spewing his anger everywhere” kind of divorce.

  35. Monica said:

    Why in the name of god would anyone even consider trying to insert themselves publicly into celeb drama involving people they barely know?

    Seriously, unless the LW wants to start drama or get in the press, just unfriend or unfollow. It would be totally weird and drama llama-ish to say anything and massively s***-stirring to tell the wife.

    • Amphelise said:

      Er, because pushing back against abusive behaviour in the public domain is a totally legit thing?

      • johann7 said:

        This. We change culture by changing individual actions in aggregate.

        • MsMildew said:

          +infinity!

          Silence is complacency.

  36. neverjaunty said:

    The chance that he will actually listen to you – a distant acquaintance at this point – and change his behavior is very low.

    The chance that he will unload on you and/or encourage his fans to pile on? Significantly higher.

    Block him on FB and elsewhere in your life and move on.

  37. Rhi said:

    OMG my cousins do this all the time when in the midst of custody drama, dragging their exes public!y on fb and then lots of folks who have only heard this 2-line version of the situation pile on with their opinions, its awful. Especially because one of my cousins in particular is just an awful, awful person and it blows my mind that he cannot see that all of this fall our issue to his past abusive behaviour. It always takes a lot of willpower for Me not to post something like “yeah and I bet bitching about her on Facebook is gonna fix your strained relationship”. Sooooo childish. Maybe I should follow the cap’ns advice and come up with a better script for next time I see one of these posts.

  38. Argablarg said:

    I tend to go for the short and sweet. “As someone who only knows you from their professional life, it makes me uncomfortable how critical you are of your wife in this venue.” It still sends the message “this is inappropriate,” but it avoids a lot of potential for being inflammatory by sticking entirely to your experience–your relationship to him and your reaction to his comments.

  39. gunesvar said:

    “85% try to get you to touch his newly single naked body” oh my lord uggghhhh. THE WORST! Captain, you nailed it — hilariously! The lamest instance of this happening to me was when I moved back to my hometown to take care of my terminally ill mother. Needy ex-Friend whom I hadn’t talked to in years heard I was back, contacted me, and proceeded to dump regularly about his recent separation, while my life was in shambles and I was on an exhausting 24/7 care schedule with my dying mother. in a matter of weeks, he asked me out for an actual date, not coffee. Yuuuuck and noooooooooooooo!

    • MsMildew said:

      Oh Gunesvar, that is awful. Jedi Hugs if you want them

  40. Yolanda B. Cool said:

    LW, I vote unfollow here. Years ago, a Facebook friend kept posting about his new girlfriend and their Twue Wuv _while she was still in the process of getting divorced and fighting for custody of her kids_. (I know, I know. She was still the marginally better parent, though.) I sent him a PM gently asking if publicly posting about their relationship was the wisest course of action given that there was a custody battle, and got back a big, defensive screed about minding my own business (!)

    My anecdotal experience is that people who do this are only seeking the very specific feedback that affirms their choices and self-image, and anything else is either summarily discarded or viewed as an attack on them as a person. In hindsight, I should have just saddled up the Nopetus and rode off into the sunset to Blocktown.

  41. Traffic_Spiral said:

    I agree that livejournal was great. All the feelingsbarf when needed, none of the Crossing The Streams with everyone in real life. Also Fandom_Wank.

    • Amphelise said:

      I miss Fandom_Wank SO BAD 😥

  42. LeighTX said:

    So I have a little experience with That Guy, only in my case it’s a Woman. A little over a year ago, Woman left her husband and children to go live with Other Woman. There has since been a divorce and Husband has remarried. Over the course of this time period, Woman has posted numerous barbed and not-so-veiled screeds on Facebook about Husband; in my opinion those posts are not flattering to Woman AT ALL, they make her look small and petty and ugly.

    I handled it a while back by unfollowing her. We’re still FB “friends” but now the only time I see her posts is when her daughter shares one of them. This works well for me, as I do not like conflict.

    My husband, on the other hand, is a pastor and has on occasion felt it was his responsibility to Woman (a parishioner) to talk to her privately about how these posts make her look, about handling family matters privately, etc. Those conversations have not gone well, to no one’s surprise. Woman would get defensive, say ugly things to him, and generally act like she is 100% right and everyone else is 100% wrong. BUT, after each of these conversations Woman would eventually cool down and has overall continued to be friendly with my husband.

    So, there are two options: unfollow, or have a private conversation. In the first, you’re left with a surface relationship or no relationship at all. In the second, you might end up with no relationship OR you might end up with a much more honest relationship, because of bravery it takes to face these ugly conversations head on.

    There is a third option, the public shaming option, which I personally would not advise as your friend’s fans might attack the messenger (you) and that’s not a fun place to be.

  43. lauren said:

    LW, whatever you choose here, I want to commend you for wanting to demonstrate to this woman that not everyone supports his awful bullying. As someone who left an abusive relationship and was smeared horribly in the aftermath, I appreciated the few folks who were brave enough to intervene as bystanders when he was doing that, to tell him it was cruel and to signal to me that not everybody felt that way. If you do this, it would be a brave and kind thing. If she’s reading this (she is), I guarantee she’ll appreciate the reprieve from her brain constantly screaming “well, everyone I used to know hates me now and I suppose I should change my name and move.”

    Also, I agree – you do not have to do this.

    As someone who’s less close to this couple personally I really don’t think you have any obligation and can click “delete” or “unfollow” with a flourish and nope on out, but … you are a good person for feeling this conflict. Bystanders doing the uncomfortable thing when folks are trying to harass or intimidate others (which is what this is) is something that has a lot more potential than a lot of strategies out there for combating abuse.

  44. sayevet said:

    I’m upgrading “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys” to “Not My Skeletons, Not My Closet”

    • Light37 said:

      I like this one, may I borrow it?

  45. Saint Clair said:

    I also need to add: when my ex drug me through the family court system (Canada), my lawyer made me sign a document when I retained her. This document required that I reveal my FB handle, and the addresses of any blogs, websites, etc. I might have. The document strongly stated that I was NOT to post details about my legal situation or feelings or opinions about my ex on the blog, while the case was in the court system. Her paralegal DID check these links periodically, too.

    I don’t know how common this sort of client contract is, but it sure is wise.

    If someone wants/needs to vent about their ex (or landlord, or boss or whatever) that’s what meeting with a few close friends in a private location is about. They can make sad faces, shake their heads, pat you on the back and pour you another drink(or pass the snacks). Blabbing the private details and opinions to 10,000 FB “friends” is just foolhardy.

  46. LW, I want you to know that I suspect we have the same FB friend (too many details matched). I posted this letter to my TL and the soon-to-be ex saw and liked it.

    You can disengage with a clear conscience. And thank you for writing this.

  47. acynicalwitch said:

    LW, I want you to know that I suspect we have the same FB friend (too many details matched). I posted this letter to my TL and the soon-to-be ex saw and liked it.

    You can disengage with a clear conscience. And thank you for writing this.

  48. johann7 said:

    The guy is acting out a narcissistic Nice Guy™/MRA/MGTOW cliche. It’s possible that the impetus is something different, but this screams “unhealthy view of gender relations” to me.

    I think calling it out is a pro-social move, though it’s not mandatory, so if you fear blowback, quietly disengaging is good. I also second the Captain’s conciliatory, ‘helpful’ framing – not giving someone clearly in a bad place any extra reason to focus vitriol on you is a good idea.

  49. Anon for this one said:

    I guess it depends what you want to achieve.

    If you want the posts to stop, or to stop seeing the posts, a private think-of-your-career message or unfollow/unfriend is the way to go.

    If you want to publicly push back against emotional abuse – cognisant of the risk of fall-out from angry!guy and his angry!followers – reply publicly to one of his posts, then be ready with the blockhammer when the trolls come marching in.

    Personally, I’d go with option b) because if I were the soon-to-be-ex then I’d be glad to see the pushback, and because pushback is the only way to change things, and because I’m a hotheaded internet arguer with a reasonably thick skin. Your mileage may vary.

    I watched a friend’s marriage come spectacularly unglued over FB when their previously supportive spouse suddenly – on a public post – announced that they now rejected my friend’s identity as a mental illness. It was bad, it involved months and months of spouse publicly posting links “for discussion” that negated friend’s identity, it ended their marriage and destroyed friendships across three continents. But I’ve never once regretted wading in and calling spouse out every single time they posted. Friend always knew they were not alone in this.

    • Jenn said:

      That’s a different situation. In your case you actually had skin in the game. You were friends with spouse. It sounds like the LW wasn’t even aware that musician was married until he started posting about his divorce. This could easily backfire with him using the LW’s defense as ‘proof’ of ex’s awfulness, or it could result in more hate being throw her way, or the ex might be weirded out at a stranger jumping in to defend her.

      Also I’m bothered by how many people seem to be infantilizing the ex. Treating the relationship as abusive [we don’t know that it was] or acting like she needs lessons on how to screenshot and document [because she’s been living on Mars the past ten years?] and basically forgetting that she is a grown-ass woman who might be wisely opting to stay out of her ex’s drama and doesn’t need more thrown her way.

  50. jmm said:

    What would Michelle Obama do?

  51. denali denali said:

    oof this is hitting many familiar places for me, as I’ve been in an awful divorce process with an emotionally abusive ex who has many FB friends.

    I’ve wondered how he has gotten anyone to believe his version of the story. I’ve wondered how he still has so many FB “friends” and supporters. I wonder how much of that is actual support and how much of that is inertia. I unfriended /blocked a number of people who I couldn’t be sure were Neutral or Team Me, because I couldn’t know who was passing information on to him and how he might use that to manipulate me or hurt me. I wonder what people are believing and thinking about me.

    I’ve wondered about why so few of these mutual acquaintances have reached out to me… but at the end of the day, my core Team Me is awesome. Also, I know myself, and I know my truth. Taking the high (and silent) road on social media takes a lot of effort, but it’s ultimately worth it for me. (Note: i am not encouraging LW to reach out to Ex, but if any acquaintances or friends of Ex were to reach out, even briefly or simply, that might be well-received)

    I’ve blocked him throughout this process, received a few reports from my “spies” who he hadn’t unfriended, and took to a private locked-down Twitter account with 6 followers to air my dirty laundry when the usual interactions with Team Me & therapist didn’t feel cathartic enough.

    I wonder about how to word my “hooray this is finally over” post…

    Also, I wish nasty emails and FB posts had *any* impact on my proceedings, but in my jurisdiction and in my case, they did not.

    LW, you’re awesome for caring about this, but I agree with the Captain – unfollow/unfriend if you want! Engage if you want, but take steps to protect yourself, too.

  52. Erin McJ said:

    The Facebooking of dirty laundry at relationships’ ends = the worst. No advice, just sympathy.

  53. Social media is for my enjoyment, anything that is not enjoyable for me get’s deleted. I disagree with CA, I would not reach out. You haven’t seen him in years. With the way he is treating his STBX – I completely understand why this relationship didn’t work. Delete. Be done. Be happy. Watch animal videos instead.

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