I'm Helplessly Watching My Friend Have a Social Media Meltdown


Welcome to Friendzone, Jezebel’s column devoted to dealing with the valuable people in your life who you’re not humping. Got an issue and looking for guidance? Email [email protected].

I have a friend who appears to be mentally deteriorating before my eyes via social media. She nastily slams people who post “too many” pictures of their children but she puts up near-naked selfies all the time. She posts weird, ignorant health advice based on pseudoscience. And she’s always rudely mocking people who aren’t single like she is (she’s 25 and she’s been divorced twice). I can think of very few ways to deal with this outside of blocking her and slowly backing away from the crazy. I’m also concerned she may be having a mental breakdown. Advice?

Speaking as someone with various mental health issues, I think it’s important to distinguish between behaviors connected to a diagnosable, treatable condition and behaviors connected to just being a fucking pain in the ass. You won’t find “Being a jerk” in the DSM. Sometimes we can’t explain a person’s shitty attitude away by saying, “Well, she has PTSD from childhood abuse” or “Oh, she has bipolar II because that’s how her brain is wired.” And even if she were actually mentally ill, it would not excuse her obnoxiousness.

If she’s a good friend in real life, I think you should gently and gingerly reach out to her and ask how things are going. Try to engage her in conversation and do a general check-in about her life. She sounds very unhappy. If she lives near you, get together for coffee. Really listen to what she says and try to make an informed judgment. Feel free to shout, “Shamon!” at regular intervals.

If you aren’t close enough to warrant such a discussion, why not just unfriend her? Are you worried that she’ll notice and get upset? Perhaps, like many of us, you’re too concerned with keeping up the appearance of niceness. Personally, as I get older, I increasingly find it tiresome and dull to maintain the illusion that I like everybody. There’s absolutely no need to be mean; I don’t advocate engaging in nastiness for sport, entertainment, or stress relief. But you can quietly leave the game in which she clearly wants to engage her online audience. Sadly, it’s probably the only way she gets attention. Don’t give it to her anymore. Instead, spend more time reading liberal feminist propaganda broadsheets like this one! Or go watch “Captain Eo” online. It’s quite marvelous, you know.

I’m afraid my not-so-close friend and coworker has an eating disorder. She has become vegan, then raw vegan, and now she says she is gluten intolerant. Awhile ago she started talking about something she calls “Breatherianism.” It’s the idea that people don’t really need to eat at all. She said she considers all food to be poison. I saw her recently and she was very excited that her weight was back down to what it was when she was 13. And she works out several hours a day. She was very thin when I met her and is now approaching skeletal. She’s married and I know her husband, and he always comments on how great she looks. I’m a guy, and I don’t know how to talk to the husband or the wife about this. What should I do?

I really respect your desire to help this gal out. It certainly sounds as if she’s got some food issues. However, I don’t think you ought to say anything personal or diagnostic to her (feel free, however, to tell her that “breatherianism” is an absolute crock of shit.) For one thing, I don’t know the potential legal ramifications of one employee making such a comment to another in your particular workplace. In addition, in my experience, at least, folks with eating disorders and various addictions don’t always respond particularly well to mere pals or coworkers telling them, “Hey, I’m concerned that you may have a problem.” It may come off as condescending or even as a personal attack. This could certainly create an uncomfortable dynamic within your “not-so-close” friendship, not to mention in the workplace. You sound like a really good-hearted person, but it’s not your place to “save” this woman from herself. I’m a born caretaker and would love to heal the world and make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race, too, but it’s impossible. Trust that her doctor or a closer friend or relative will mention something to her.

My best friend smells like ass. She wears the most disgusting perfume, and it makes me want to die. Now we live together, and the stink gets on everything in our apartment. She doesn’t do her laundry often and she doesn’t shower very much, so she uses the perfume to mask that stuff, too. What’s the best way to get this odor out of my life without telling my best friend I just hate the way she smells?

You just need to tell her, “Dirty Diana, no. Dirty Diana, no. Dirty Di-A-na, noooooo.” If this doesn’t work, sit her down and say, “Look, the perfume you’re using is pretty over-the-top. I’m afraid I might actually be allergic to it. It makes me nauseous and I smell it everywhere. Could you keep it to a minimum? Or maybe pick a new signature scent?” Feel free to add details about how it makes your eyes water and your teeth sweat. True? Not entirely, but whatever. It’s better than suffering in silence, and way better than actually telling this girl that she smells like a butthole. If this sounds unappealing to you, start a passive-aggressive scent war in which you burn palo santo and Nag Champa at all hours to counteract her stink. I’m sure that’ll work out well for your relationship.

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