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Man’s Internet addiction makes woman a social media widow

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I realize that social media is a big part of today's world, and I have no problem with someone using it to stay in contact with family and friends. But at what point is it deemed an addiction?

My significant other spends hours every day scrolling through his Facebook and Twitter pages. I have tried discussing it with him, but it becomes an argument. Now I just sit in the same room with him, silent and waiting until it's my turn for his attention. How can I get him to realize how isolated from him it makes me feel and that my presence doesn't seem to be needed? Should I just accept that he's an addict and move on? -- OFFLINE IN FLORIDA

DEAR OFFLINE: Something becomes an addiction when it causes a disruption in one's life. Your significant other isn't the first person to have been seduced by the internet. He may argue with you because he doesn't realize the amount of time he spends glued to his screen.

Try this: Quietly clock the time he's on FB and Twitter for one week. Afterward, ask him if he realizes how much time he is spending there. He may be shocked when you read him the number of hours. That's the time to express how isolated and unneeded this has made you feel. He may be willing to install an app that signals when the time limit he has allotted himself is up.

Discuss making a "date" for the two of you to get out of the house as a couple on a regular basis -- without devices -- to take a walk, go to the park or have socially distanced coffee somewhere, which may interrupt his habit and enable you to enjoy some time together when you are both fully present. But if he isn't interested, you may have to decide if you want to continue being his lady-in-waiting.

DEAR ABBY: Is it rude or disrespectful for someone to change their first name? I'm in my early 30s and have wanted to change mine my whole life. I changed the spelling of my name when I was 12, and my parents legally changed it for me when I was a teenager. But I still don't like the name, and I cringe whenever I hear it.

Because it's a common name for someone my age, I'm sure most people won't understand if I change it. While I respect the effort my parents put into selecting a name for me, I don't want to be stuck with this one for the rest of my life. I don't want to cause hurt feelings. However, I'm ultimately the one who has to live with it.

Should I do what feels right for me, or must I accept the negative feelings and the disconnect I have toward the name to spare my family's feelings? -- DISCONNECTED OUT WEST

DEAR DISCONNECTED: Many people change their name(s) for various reasons. If you feel the need to do it in order to be a more authentic version of yourself, go for it. Assuming you have told your parents how you feel about your first name, I doubt they'll be any more upset about it than they were when they helped you change its spelling as a teenager.

A word of caution, however. The process may take more time than you would like because the pandemic has slowed the court system considerably. Also, once you change your name, you will need to change it on all official identifying documents, such as your driver's license, insurance documents, passport, etc., which can be time-consuming.

DEAR ABBY: While researching my family, I discovered that my now-elderly mother was charged with the murder of a toddler 40 years ago, before I was born. She was never convicted and never mentioned it. However, after reading her testimony and things she's said after the incident, I have no doubt she is guilty.

This has me reeling because she has always been a great and loving mother. When she heard I was researching our family, she mentioned that I would find something unsavory and asked me to please not look into it because it's in the past and she didn't want it to tarnish my image of her. I don't know how to feel or what to do. -- SHOCKED IN THE WEST

DEAR SHOCKED: If your mother was charged with murder, either the charges were dropped or she was found innocent by a jury. You wrote that your mother was a great and loving mother. For that you should feel grateful because not all children are so fortunate as you were. I think it's time for you to take the opportunity to get her side of the story. Unless you have all the facts, the last thing you should do is judge her.

DEAR ABBY: My sweet, introverted son has just started high school. He's a shy person who has a hard time making friends, and the few friends he had in middle school aren't attending the same high school. He has confided that he is terrified that he will be bullied and won't know how to respond. He asked me if there was a phrase that repels bullies. I told him I don't know any and I would ask you. -- WORRIED MOM

DEAR WORRIED MOM: Like your son, many students transitioning to high school are afraid of the unknown. Why is he afraid of being bullied? Did it happen to him in middle school? If so, why? Many schools have antibullying policies in place, and students who are subjected to it should report it immediately.

While I know of no one-size-fits-all phrase that will repel a bully, I do think that enrolling your son in martial arts classes would give him a sense of confidence that he is lacking now. You should also encourage him to get involved with special interest groups at his new school, which might enable him to meet and interact with more kids and possibly make new friends.

DEAR ABBY: My husband insists that I go out in public without wearing any underwear. He thinks it's sexy. I am uncomfortable doing this because it makes me feel dirty and trashy. I also feel it is unsanitary. Your thoughts? -- NOT MY THING IN VIRGINIA

DEAR NOT: I'm glad you asked. Dirty and trashy are separate issues from unsanitary. You are a married adult woman, and wearing or not wearing anything under your dresses or skirts has no bearing on whether you are (or aren't) a "good" girl.

I imagine some couples go out for a special night on the town "commando" because it's exciting, their secret, and maybe can lead to romance later. Some people also feel more comfortable never wearing underwear. If you have questions about whether the practice is unhealthy, discuss it with your physician or gynecologist.

Bottom line, you should not do anything you're uncomfortable with.