Dear Amy: My cousin is a young and ambitious attorney, but if you looked at her social networking pages you might think she was still in college. Her Facebook feed is filled with disparaging and mean comments about her secretary.
She makes fun of the questions her secretary asks, the way she looks and dresses, and her work ethic. (She called it “lazy” when her secretary asked which task from a list she’d been given was the highest priority.)
She usually appends each update with a comment like, “No wonder she’s just a secretary.” My mother and sister both have office-support jobs. I know that they find these comments especially painful.
There are two problems here: The first, of course, is that it’s inappropriate to talk about your work that way on social networking sites; the second is that she seems to hold this belief that people become secretaries because they are incompetent or inferior.
Previous attempts to bring this up with her have ended in statements like, “You’re not a lawyer, so you don’t understand.”
What can we say to her that will get her to realize not only how mean and hurtful she’s being, but also that a secretarial job is not a consolation prize for the less intelligent?
Amy says: When people publish objectionable public posts on a social networking site (such as Facebook), the best way to respond is by connecting your reaction to the post on the same site.
For instance, your cousin writes something disparaging. Underneath the post, you click “comment” and respond, “Wow. I can’t believe how disrespectful you are toward this person.” Your mother and sister can voice their opinions, too.
Social networking sites offer ample opportunities for people like your cousin to reveal themselves as obnoxious idiots, but they are also vehicles for social correction.
I assume this behavior will eventually earn her a reprimand and/or dismissal (hopefully not the fast track at her law firm). Her comments may be actionable, in which case I hope she doesn’t represent herself. Then she would truly have a fool for a client.
Too close for cousins
Dear Amy: A few years ago, I was introduced to a second cousin once removed as he toured graduate schools. We instantly became friends, talking for hours, sharing deep secrets, laughing at just about anything and everything. We lost touch when he moved away.
Recently he came to town, interviewing for a job; and we had the opportunity to reconnect. He started developing feelings for me; he told me it just “sort of happened.” During another visit, our feelings got the best of us, and we looked and behaved like a couple (we didn’t kiss, though).
We are both deeply confused and conflicted. Some of our family members are absolutely against us having a relationship. How can we move on from this?
Amy says: There is no genetic reason to avoid a relationship with your second cousin once removed. Choosing to develop a deeper relationship is stirring up some family drama, but you should not solicit opinions from others about a matter that should really remain between the two of you.
You both need to clarify your own issues, doubts and anxieties, discuss this only with each other, and then make choices based on your mutual desires and decisions. If you choose to be together, your other family members will have to find a way to adjust.