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Good intentions lead to Facebook faux pas

December 31, 2009

Dear Amy: Recently on Facebook I posted a nice note on the "walls" of my family members.

It was a note that was sent to me from a friend -- indicating that I was an angel.

Amy, I sent this to more than 30 family members!

A few of them responded and said the posting was nice, but the rest asked if I was doing OK.

To me, it seems like they're asking if I'm mentally unstable and I find that to be very harsh and mean. It's very upsetting.

Please shed some light on this. I thought I was being nice. I thought I was doing something filled with love, but it has been ill received.

Flummoxed by Facebook

Dear Flummoxed: Picture the Facebook wall as the bulletin board at a family member's house. This is where you can post a message to say hello or notify them of things of special interest to them.

In this context, posting a message saying, "My friend Wendy says I'm an angel!" seems strange, like leaving a note about your personal life taped to their refrigerator.

The comment, though undoubtedly true, is a little show-offy and doesn't leave much for your family members to respond to.

The place to post this message is on your own Facebook page. Then your relatives could check it out and respond by writing on your wall.

::

Dear Amy: "Julia" wrote that her mother had "suddenly turned against drinking by anybody at any time" and wondered how to deal with an upcoming party.

I think she should also consider that her mom may be developing dementia.

As she entered her 80s, my mom began making eccentric demands. She decided the tall trees around the house, which had been there for generations, suddenly posed a threat. When my father was in the hospital, she had them all removed.

When she decided that people were entering her property, she had the whole thing fenced off. These were just the first odd behaviors in the lead-up to Alzheimer's.

I think Julia should consult with her father about any other odd decisions by her mother and try to get her examined by a doctor specializing in memory loss. Had we realized what was happening to my mom 10 years earlier, we might have been able to get her help sooner.

Bill

Dear Bill: An excellent suggestion. Thank you.

Send questions to Amy Dickinson by e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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