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ASK AMY: ADVICE FOR THE REAL WORLD For release 02/07/11

Associated Press Modified: January 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm •  Published: January 27, 2011
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(NOTICE: This Ask Amy column is for release Feb. 7, 2011 and is STRICTLY EMBARGOED until that date.)

Don't Be Bullied into Facebook 'Friendship'

By Amy Dickinson

Tribune Media Services

DEAR AMY: I am wondering if anyone has had an experience like mine on Facebook -- and I wonder what the proper response should be.

I received a "friend" request on Facebook from someone who was not a friend, but an acquaintance. I opted to ignore the request. I then received an unpleasant message from this person.

I responded to the e-mail in an apologetic manner, saying I was mostly using Facebook for family contact. However, apparently this person remains hostile. Fortunately she doesn't live in my area, but we do share some friends on Facebook.

I'm wondering how you would handle this situation, if it continues to be a problem. -- Facing Facebook

DEAR FACING: You shouldn't have to communicate with someone who is unpleasant. These obligations are reserved for bosses or unpleasant family members, not Facebook nonfriends.

You can "block," ''ignore" or merely disregard a person with whom you don't wish to be in touch.

You can also consider accepting this friend request without enabling her to send messages to you.

Facebook has a feature enabling users to set up special "groups." You can categorize (and isolate) your fellow Facebook contacts into groups of family members, colleagues, high school alumnae, etc.

Many of us have Facebook friends who are not even acquaintances -- widening the social networking circle -- but if this person is unpleasant, then you shouldn't feel compelled to include her in any circle, even a virtual one.

DEAR AMY: I have a close friend who is strong and healthy. She works out, skis and is very active. She also lives very well, drives a very nice car and can afford valet parking and/or taxi service if she is not in the mood to park in a parking lot.

My friend has access to handicapped parking permits for her parents.

When she goes out on her own to meet me or other friends, she always pulls out the permit and uses it to park in one of the handicapped parking places.

Not only does she use it, but she also makes light of it to others who did park far away or paid valet by ensuring they know she got a great spot by using the handicapped space.

Several of us have expressed disapproval of her abusing the permit but to no avail -- she continues to take the spaces with no regard for the elderly or disabled drivers who really need the access.

She is a good friend and other than the parking pass abuse she is a very caring person.

I also have parents who have a handicapped-parking pass and know how inconvenient it is for them when the spots are full and they need to walk.

I am not sure how to handle this as every time it happens and I, or one of her other friends, make a disapproving comment, she'll shrug it off and just park there again the next time. This is starting to affect my opinion of her as I feel she is being extremely selfish.

Any suggestions on what to say or do? -- Disgusted

DEAR DISGUSTED: On behalf of all my brothers and sisters out there who regularly provide transportation to disabled friends and family members, I'd like to offer a big sarcastic "thank you!" to your friend for abusing her parents' parking permit.

Don't mind us -- we'll wheel our walkers through the snow.

Your friend's disrespectful attitude is starting to affect your formerly good opinion of her. I suggest you let her know.

The next time she brags about scoring a parking space that should be used by someone with a genuine need, you should tell her, "I think this behavior is beneath you. It's very surprising. I can only hope that the next time your parents need a handicap space, someone like you isn't parked there."

DEAR AMY: "Flamed in Ohio" was worried about the danger posed by an unattended bayberry candle her mother-in-law insisted on lighting on Christmas Eve.

We also have this tradition and have dealt with this issue by placing the lit candle in the center of the kitchen sink when we left the house. -- Not Worried

DEAR NOT: Many readers offered similar suggestions. Thank you.

(Send questions via e-mail to askamy(at)tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.)

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