1. Ann

    I am currently in a situation that involves what I consider being stalked on the internet. I am part of an online support group, and I have told no one I am posting there. I have a fake name and it is all anonymous – no names, or places are ever mentioned in anyones posts or comments. I found out a person I know has gone out of their way to find me there. They have been reading my posts and comments, and telling others about them. I do not know how they found me, but they are upset that I am posting there – and speaking about situations that involve them and others they know – even though it is all anonymous. This person told me they feel I should stop posting there, because it upsets them. It is my place for support and help, and besides they went out of their way to follow me there, and discover what my fake name was, and read my anonymous posts. I don’t think I have to stop posting there. I am doing everything anonymously, and it is THEY who have “eavedropped” on my conversations. I think they are the rude ones, and should mind their own business. It is behavior like this on their part that has made me seek out an online support forum. What do you think, should I stop posting there because they asked me to?

    • No.
      Now, have you confirmed with this person that it is, in fact, you who are posting there?
      If you haven’t, I’d play it off, saying something such as, “Oh, so many people have similar problems in their lives. I’ve never even heard of Angry Cat Owners Anonymous.”

      The only time I’d be worried is if this concerns your workplace. If you are an “at will” employee (most of us are), an employer can fire you for negative comments you’ve made online about the company. If this is the case, I’d stop posting immediately.

      • Ann

        Yes, the person knows it is me. They recognized the scenarios I was posting about.
        They must have read many, many posts until they found the ones they recognized.
        I was very discreet, and their is no way they could have found me except that they went hunting for me, from forum to forum. Very strange! I do not post from work. This situation is very sad, and shows how some people can be very obsessed with wanting to know, and then control what people think and say about them. Very immature.

        • I didn’t mean if you post from work. I meant that you could be fired if you post about work, even from a home computer. If this person is angry enough at you to hunt you down through the jungle of the internet, this person could use this information against you at your job. That is the only reason I’d suggest you stop posting there, or (as Elizabeth suggested) change your name.

    • Elizabeth

      The great thing about anonymous online forums is precisely the benefits you describe – the ability to gripe, complain, ask for advice. get support and let off steam. How on earth has this person discovered you? Unless they were able to figure it out all on their own (which would be pretty difficult), then you have been indiscreet. It wouldn’t be very nice to, say, gripe about someone “anonymously” and then tell your friends and family to check out your posts where they’ll find stories of “you know who.” If you’ve done it correctly, then you’ve left out real names, places, and identifying characteristics and there should be nothing concrete linking you with an online forum. If you have included these details… you’ve been indiscreet, and that’s not good either. If the pressure is really on you, you could always rejoin the site under a different name and – be more discreet!

      • Ann

        This person seems to have done the impossible. They either got very lucky, or spent hours searching for me. That is sad in itself. I did not tell anyone I was posting on that online support forum. My husband didn’t even know. This whole situation if very bizarre – and sad. It has been suggested that I change my name on the site, but if this person is so obsessesed in this way, they would figure it out again anyway. Where there is a will (or obsession) there is a way.

  2. Suzie

    Christmas Gift Exchanges. My extended family insists on ‘buying for everyone’ even though I’ve suggested several times we draw names for adults and still spend for the kids. (It seems this is the norm for those in my immediate circle.) They said they are fine with me not buying them a gift, but plan to buy for everyone a gift just the same as it brings them so much joy. I feel obligated now since that’s what they all decided to do and I don’t agree. It’s more a principle issue than financial, as to why I feel buying for every adult is not really needed. The holiday is for spending time with family, buying for kids (who’s ages are still in single digits) not adults who – quite frankly – can go buy what they want rather than me guessing and getting something they don’t want.How should I proceed with this?

    • Nina

      Hi Suzie, I totally understand your point of view. I’m in my thirties now, and in the lucky position of not needing much in the way of material objects. I’m grateful for that, and grateful for the people in my life. I’ve had great success in giving (and when asked what I want, requesting) gifts that are experiences–tickets to a play or concert, or a gift certificate for a meal, which we then share. So I get what, as you say, is most important–time with them.

      If that’s not an option, try giving to a charity that matters to both of you. The size of the donation is up to you, you compliment the giftee with your generosity, and no money is wasted.

      Finally, if you wanted to stand firm on the no-gifts-for-adults thing, if you still gave beautiful cards and were a warm and friendly presence at holiday events, I seriously doubt any worthwhile friend or relative would hold it against you.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with all of the suggestions Nina gave.

      I think that as individuals that are a part of larger families, our opinions and attitudes are important but so is the group dynamic. You make it sound as though it’s not just one person who wants to keep the gift-giving tradition going. In that case, I think you have to go along with it, or risk being the Scrooge of the group. Wait a few years and bring it up again. By that time, someone might be hard hit by the economy or just sick of the holiday rat race and agree with you. However, I don’t think it’s a good idea to just sit out the gift-giving, especially if you are receiving gifts. You are operating within an existing tradition, and it’s not just up to you to change it. Slowly, though, it might happen. In the meantime, I think you have two options: either give gifts that are meaningful to you (as Nina suggested) or just make it really easy on yourself and do gift cards and be done with it. I do think that if you show up to events and take but do not give, they will hold it against you.

    • Jerry

      Suzie: I’m with you that some people — particularly established people — have too much stuff and don’t necessarily need more. Nevertheless, traditions must be upheld. Consider getting your family something consumable — we make jams and jellys and put together gift baskets. But in the past, I’ve done super-premium chocolates (Vosges), fruit-of-the-month, and wines. You could also do a book or a C.D. if you know the person’s tastes.

      I’m not a big fan of gifting charitable donations (more of a gift to the person doing the donation as they get to choose the charity and they get the tax receipt); and I hate store gift cards.

      (I asked my wife why anyone gave a gift card to a store, which can only be used at that store, as opposed to plain old cash that can be used anywhere. She mentioned that a gift card was actually a gift of shopping; so I guess if the recipient really likes shopping you could do the gift card . . . but I still think cash is much more practical.)

  3. Lauren

    I posted this under another article before realizing where the open thread is…so I apologize if anyone has seen this twice!

    I have a question for everyone. I am 29 years old and currently living with my boyfriend of four years. We moved in together about 4 months ago. I’m very close with his parents and sister who I see often. On his mother’s side of the family, there is a fairly large Christmas dinner party each December in NY for the extended family with a rotating host/hostess each year. I have never been invited to the dinner and it has never bothered me or crossed my mind until this year. However, this year my boyfriend’s grandparents are hosting. They sent an invite to him only, no “and guest” and they did not include my name. I have met and spent time with his grandparents many times over the past four years. Part of me is slightly hurt and confused that I was not invited to the party given they are the host/hostess this year. Am I off base? Is it rude/wrong if my boyfriend asks to bring me? He also was surprised they would not include me at this point in our relationship. Although we do plan to get married one day, what if that was not in our timeline…at what point are you considered part of the family or not? At the same time, I certainly do not want to be rude or seem pushy. Thoughts?

  4. kingsrings

    Yesterday after a show I was in, some co-stars and I went out to dinner at a restaurant next door. We had announced to the cast the night before we were going to do this. Several of were there, and ordered our dinner at the counter. One of our co-stars didn’t make a move to do this, so we asked him if he was going to order his dinner. He replied that no, he wasn’t, because he was unemployed and didn’t have any money, so he was just going to sit there. So he was just going to sit there and watch us all eat our dinners, apparently?! Or was fishing for one of us to buy it for him. So obviously, he put us in a very awkward position. One of my other co-stars stepped up and bought him a dinner, too. Am I right to feel that this was very nervy on his part to do this?? I mean, if you can’t afford to go out to dinner, it’s kind of rude to just go along anyway and put everyone in this uncomfortable position of not wanting to see you go hungry whilst everyone else eats, right? And he’s not the only one at the table on a limited budget right now.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      It sounds like the kind of place where it’s acceptable to sit without eating so I don’t think there was anything wrong with him going. However, he violated the rule that one should not bring up the subject of money. When asked why he wasn’t eating, there are a number of vague answers he could have given. For example, he could have said “I’m on a diet.” He doesn’t need to mention it’s an inexpensive-food diet.

    • polite punk

      It sounds like you were out to celebrate the show, so, of course, he is welcomed, even if he doesn’t eat! But, I agree that he put people in an awkward spot. Personally, I find when people say that they are on a diet, it makes other people feel a bit uncomfortable (“oh yeah, i probably shouldn’t be eating this burger and fries either.”). A better response from him would have been something along the lines of “I ate before the show, but I wanted to spend time with you all. What a great night!”

      • kingsrings

        Well, this was a pub, so yes, I do suppose it is an acceptable environment to not order anything. Another thing I thought of after I posted was that this guy could have just ordered a soda, which only costs probably $2.00 at the most. Then he could have at least had something along with the rest of us, and not have put us in this uncomfortable position.

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