When Facebook Politics Get Extra Personal

As the presidential election draws near, I would like to like to post a message on my Facebook timeline that says: “If any of my Facebook friends plan on voting for a particular candidate, I would appreciate your doing me the courtesy of unfriending me. I no longer want to be associated with people who share a worldview, political views or, most important, the same set of morals as this candidate. They are completely antithetical to mine.” My husband thinks I should not make this post. You?

S.

Is a friend who was kind to you — during a rough patch in college, say — any less kind because she supports a different candidate than you do? I would feel differently if she actually made offensive Facebook posts. But you’re trying to police people’s thoughts.

Let’s go a step further: The best predictor (and reinforcer) of political views these days may be our media and social media diets. But our best hope for useful talks with people from seemingly unbridgeable political silos is that, once, in real life, we were good to each other. This makes me more hesitant to ask Facebook friends to scram.

Your social media is yours, though. You may use it as you like. So, if you’re too exhausted, aggravated or hurt to interact with people who disagree with you, based on their choice of political candidate, you’re free to ask them to leave your Facebook page.

If I were you, though, I’d take a break from Facebook instead. Come back when you’re ready to explore what connects you to the friends you now want to disown. Canceling people is easy. Reconnecting with them is hard, but it’s the only productive way forward. We need that now, even on the small scale of your Facebook page.

Credit…Christoph Niemann

My twin sons were born two months premature. After three months in the neonatal I.C.U., we were finally able to bring them home. We’ve been practicing strict social distancing. My sister-in-law, who lives in another state, will soon be visiting my mother-in-law nearby. She’s asked if she can visit the twins, and I said sure, as long as she quarantines for 10 days and wears a mask. (She hasn’t been careful about coronavirus risks.) She freaked out and told me I was being ridiculous. The problem: She has mental health issues, and my husband and mother-in-law worry that the smallest thing may set her off. What should I do?

CONCERNED MOM

I’m sorry for this extra stressor. But I may have a solution that avoids making your sister-in-law feel singled out. Once she sets foot in her mother’s home (presumably, without quarantining), insist that both of them wait for two weeks before they visit you and the twins.

Let the quarantine be an experience of togetherness for your mother- and sister-in-law. And explain the need for masks and social distancing. (How can you possibly keep infants’ fingers out of their mouths?) Catering to the needs of others is great if you can manage it safely, but not at the expense of your fragile babies’ health.

I am a rising senior in college. This spring, I worked a remote internship along with taking classes. I had a great time! An acquaintance, whom I really dislike, has been texting me twice a week, asking me to put him in touch with my boss so he can get an internship too. I’ve tried dodging him, with little success. But I’m uncomfortable with this. I was only an intern! And even if could recommend someone, it wouldn’t be this guy. How do I say no, without letting him know I despise him?

ANONYMOUS

Eventually, you may discover that there’s success enough for everyone, even (especially!) those we dislike. But you’re not there yet. (I wasn’t either in college.) For now, give your nemesis the company’s general email address.

Tell him, as a former intern, you have little (if any) influence with your former boss and you intend to reserve it for yourself, so you won’t be recommending anyone. He may think you’re a selfish jerk, but there’s a value in learning to say no directly.

My financial situation hasn’t been affected by Covid-19 (yet), so I continued paying my dog walker during the pandemic even though he didn’t work. It seemed fair. Now that my city is reopening and dog walkers are permitted to work again, mine has decided not to return to the city. So, I decided not to pay him for June; it was his decision not to come back. My daughter thinks I should continue paying him until I find a replacement. You?

J.

Listen, it’s your money, and you’ve been generous with it. Why not continue the logic of pandemic payment to its natural end? Prorate payment for the month of June to the date your city allowed dog walkers to return. If your daughter wants to give your dog walker more, she can.


For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.