Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email, By Amy Dick­in­son

Dear Amy: My niece is a lovely young woman. My daugh­ter and I are very close to her. I of­ten acted in a moth­erly fash­ion to her while she was grow­ing up, and she was a brides­maid in my daugh­ter’s wed­ding.

We speak to her reg­u­larly and, although she lives in an­other state, we see her when­ever pos­si­ble. She is an adult in her mid-30s. She is beau­ti­ful, sweet, in­tel­li­gent, and has a won­der­ful boyfriend and a good job.

Here’s the dif­fi­culty: She is con­stantly post­ing pho­to­graphs on all of her so­cial me­dia sites that we know are stolen from other peo­ple or web­sites, claim­ing that the pho­tos are of her. Sev­eral other friends have no­ticed and com­mented to us about it. Once, my daugh­ter tried to del­i­cately tell her that the photo of “her” on the beach in Hawaii was be­ing used on a travel web­site for Mex­ico. My niece sim­ply replied that they had stolen her photo (and then erased all traces of it from her ac­counts).

Although we are slightly both­ered by this, we won­der why she wants to give oth­ers the impression that her life is some­thing it is not. She seems to have a great life, and is happy and well-re­garded.

We are more con­cerned that her on­line per­sona doesn’t end with just the post­ing of pho­tos and that she may ac­tu­ally be pre­tend­ing to be some­one else and may be de­vel­op­ing on­line re­la­tion­ships based on that. This could se­ri­ously harm (or ruin) her cur­rent re­la­tion­ship or her job.

Should we con­front her, and if so, how do we go about it with­out ru­in­ing our re­la­tion­ship with her? — Con­cerned Aunt and Cousin

Dear Con­cerned: You and your daugh­ter have al­ready no­ti­fied your niece that you’ve no­ticed her so­cial me­dia dis­con­nect, and the fact that your niece im­me­di­ately re­moved the photo tells you that she un­der­stood your mes­sage.

Steal­ing pho­tos is wrong, and it is an af­front to pho­tog­ra­phers, who make their liv­ing sell­ing im­ages, only to see them stolen and used else­where with­out credit or com­pen­sa­tion. But I’m not sure how you get from filch­ing pho­tos to the idea that your niece might be en­gaged in cat­fish­ing.

When you see your niece post­ing pub­licly, you can freely com­ment on her choices. In terms of her pri­vate ac­tiv­i­ties, she is a grown woman, and un­less her choices have a di­rect im­pact on you, you shouldn’t spec­u­late.

Dear Amy: What is the best way to han­dle smok­ers at an out­door event? I en­joy go­ing to sum­mer con­certs at my lo­cal river­front, but in­evitably a smoker will sit next to me. I choose not to smoke for a rea­son, and it lit­er­ally makes me ill to breathe cig­a­rette smoke. I get tired of con­stantly hav­ing to move, only to have yet an­other smoker light up next to me. Is there any­thing I can do? — Non­smoker

Dear Non­smoker: If smok­ing is le­gal at your out­door event (and it likely is), the only thing you can do is po­litely ask a smoker, “Would you mind sit­ting down­wind of me? Cig­a­rette smoke re­ally gets to me.” The per­son will either com­ply (or may self-con­sciously stub out their cig­a­rette), or not. If they don’t com­ply, you will have to move your seat.

Dear Amy: “Tat­too Hater” was dis­traught that her daugh­ter has got­ten tat­toos. I liked your re­sponse.

I think many tat­toos are quite beau­ti­ful, but I also ad­vised my chil­dren against get­ting them. Of the three, two have tat­toos, and they are beau­ti­ful, but all I had to say to them is that when they are 60 or 70, they are go­ing to look aw­ful.

I used to work in a nurs­ing home, and one of the res­i­dents there was a for­mer “Tat­tooed Lady” from the cir­cus. Her tat­toos did not hold up well. As she aged, the inks faded and kind of melded to­gether, so that the art­work was blurred and un­rec­og­niz­able. Her skin was a bluish green wher­ever the tat­toos were. I told my chil­dren about her, as a cau­tion­ary tale. But they were grown-ups when they got the tat­toos, and, in the end, it is their body, even if I pro­duced it. — Love the Kids, Hate the Tat­toos

Dear Love the Kids: My un­cle Har­vey was in the Merchant Marine and had the req­ui­site ship and anchor tats on his arm. Over the years, that ship sailed (so to speak), but I loved him, so I loved his tat­toos, too.

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