Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What to do about facebook status guilt trips

A man once said, "My mother in law should be a travel agent because she specializes in guilt trips."

The truth about guilt trips is, you don't have to take them! You can say no.  I realize it's easier said than done and today I'm going to give you a few tools to actually say no.

What is a guilt trip? It's a manipulative tool some people use to try to influence the actions of others.

Now that inventions like facebook have come on the scene it's unfortunately even easier to try to guilt trip someone.  How?  Through status updates, particularly through vaguebooking.

Vaguebooking is an intentionally vague Facebook status update that prompts someone else to ask what's going on.  Or, it is a manipulative cry for help.

This can happen at any time of the year but holidays are times when it seems these things can really flare up. Let's say you have decided to have Christmas this year with your spouse's side of your family, or with friends unrelated, or maybe with no one at all.  Maybe you've booked a Christmas vacation to the Bahamas! Good for you.  So your plans have been made but a family member (hereafter known as "the tripper") is angry and is trying to guilt you into complying with their wishes. 

A tripper's bold facebook guilt trip status might look like this:

"Wish I could spend Christmas with certain people..."

The tripper writes this little manipulative bomb, launches it and then sits there waiting for the explosion.  The worst thing that can happen in their mind is:  nothing.  That's right.  More than anything they want to get a response out of you.  And ideally they want you to apologize or change your plans.

Let's talk about an option that's not as bold.  The tripper might just write one word: "Wishing..."

What do they hope to accomplish by this one word?  It's bait.  They are desperately hoping someone will be curious enough to comment with, "what are you wishing for?" To which they might respond, "Oh, just for someone to spend Christmas with."

Or the tripper might expand their guilt trip to two words: "So hurt..."

They are waiting with baited breath for someone to respond with: "Hurt?  What's wrong? Are you okay?  I'm here for you...you're in my prayers, blah blah blah..."   (The more people who comment, the more the guilt tripper is loving it. Their greatest nightmare is that no one will comment. That will throw them into a worse fit. And the are hoping beyond hope that you are reading the comments from others affirming their status.)

Comments are the trippers greatest asset because they give them an open door to say, "oh....I'm just hurting because I'm thinking about how Christmas is going to be soooo awful this year."

When you hold fast to your boundaries and stand up to them, the tripper will probably continue with a status update something like this:

"Why?  I just don't understand...."

or  "Why do some people thrive on hurting others?"

or... "What's a family for anyway?"

or... "Please somebody just wake me up when Christmas is over..."

If the tripper has further mental and spiritual instability they may go a step further to post a threat like:

"...might just be done with it all..."


"can't handle this.  I'm checking out..."

or they might even cloak it in a bit of religious jargon:

"heaven can't wait any longer..."

So what do you do about this?  I know it's hard when you are dealing with this kind of witchcraft.  That's actually what it is.  Manipulation of this kind of absolutely witchcraft, but if you tried to tell someone that they would be appalled.  They would cry out, "Witchcraft!??  Are you crazy?  It's love! I do this because I love you!!"  (Then they'd tell everyone in the family you called them a witch. This would also be an action designed to get you to move in their direction.)

Some people have a warped sense of love. Manipulation, guilt trips and jealousy are not love.  So what do you do?

1)  Do not respond at all to any of these statuses publicly or privately. That's exactly what the tripper wants more than anything: your response!  
2)  Ignore whatever behavior you do not want to see continue.
3) Respond back only when spoken to with respect and devoid of manipulation.
4) Pray blessing over them, and release them and the situation to God for Him to deal with.
5) Hide them from your facebook wall, at least for now. (It's not healthy for you.)
6)  Find like-minded healthy friends who understand and will help you to stay strong and encourage you in keeping your boundaries.
7)  Speaking of boundaries, read Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.  I read it a few times a year and it helps me. I can't say it enough: this book should be in everyone's personal library and read at least once. I encourage everyone in our church to read it.
8)  Go on with your life and enjoy it.

I hope this helps all of you out there who deal with trippers.


Grace said...

I have found a bit of this on blogs as well. It is difficult to tell when it is a serious cry for help or when it is someone just seeking attention. Oh...and for planning guilt trips....my Mom wins the blue ribbon. J\I'm just refusing to go on that "vacation"! LOL

Sheri Hawley said...

Just want to stand and shout, "AMEN!!" I see a workshop brewing in this post!! :-)

Deanna Shrodes said...

Grace,true observation. And I'm with you on refusing to go on trips!

Sheri, thanks so much for your very kind words. A workshop would indeed be an interesting possibility...

Terri von Wood said...

This is so amazing.....I want to share it, but I know the people it's meant for won't get that it's THEM! :) I actually really appreciate these kind of posts....I give them 3 and then I know that I know who they are and can mentally choose not to participate anymore. I like the idea of hiding rather than deleting. I did a deletion-fest once...just to eliminate people I didn't really participate with or choose to "listen" to any further....it didn't go over too well! :) Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family, Deanna!

Karen said...


Not only does this happen with family but it happens more and more with church members. As a pastor's wife, I see so many snide comments like this on facebook. Vague comments to hurt other members or to try and manipulate Pastor. Some days I really hate facebook!


Anonymous said...

I agree completely. I have been manipulated this way in the past and have a great aversion to it now. This kind of behavior can be unchecked among Christians because we are taught to love one another and turn the other cheek. We think if we don't respond, maybe we have let God down.