How to quell impending blog doom from Aunt Lisa
March 17, 2014 9:20 PM   Subscribe

How do I ask my aunt not to write about me in her blog (specifically wondering about wording), and how do I politely stick to my guns if she pushes back? Snowflakes after the fold.

Background: My aunt Lisa* has many great qualities. She knows how to interact with very different personalities tactfully. She is a jack of all trades: she's very intelligent, an excellent cook, a seamstress, a fashionista. She is a wonderful storyteller and speaks eagerly about her passions. Lisa lives with my grandmother and grandfather, cooks dinner for them most evenings, and takes care of Grandma when Grandpa is working. She is generous with the people she likes; she even offered to make my wedding dress! I gladly accepted. The price of materials is vastly less expensive, and I'd always wanted a homemade, tailored wedding gown. My partner and I really got lucky here!

• Lisa is the family drama queen.
• Lisa is an intolerable gossip. She is unemployed, and spends her free time watching TV and talking smack about people. The only people I haven't heard her speak ill of are my partner, my father, and my grandfather.
• Lisa drinks alcohol all day long. And to excess when my side of the family is around her. She presumably does this when we are not around (according to a few details in stories she's told us, corroborated by my grandparents).
• Lisa often talks about people behind their backs. Especially my younger cousin Jenny. Lisa called her a 'lesbian' because Jenny was holding her female friend's hand at her relative's funeral. Lisa also berates Jenny on her dancing ability (behind her back), though we've seen Jenny dance and she is lovely!
Lisa also talks very poorly about her best friends to us. I don't understand why anyone would continually speak ill of the people to whom they are closest.
• Lisa makes up outrageous lies. She made some accusations of abuse by my aunt Cindy which we later learned to be untrue. Lisa's personal vendetta against Aunt Cindy still rages on (a whole other story). She also claims on job applications that she holds a bachelor's degree, though her highest education is a GED and has only attempted one semester of community college before dropping out.
• Lisa is rather manipulative. She seems to have convinced Grandma that my cousin Ted stole some alcohol bottles from them 1.5 years ago, which has elicited some strange behaviors from Grandma (another extensive story).

All in all, this hasn't affected me much. We visit about 4 times a year. When I listen to her rant about our other family members, I imagine the amount of trash-talking she does about my family behind our backs when we leave. I try to ignore it or stay away from her. My relatives have called me a people-pleaser which I can see (though I tend to see myself as flexible and tactful instead). This makes things like discussing wedding dress plans for our upcoming fall wedding with Lisa quite fun so far!

However, my aunt Lisa has recently started writing an entertainment blog for her local community website. Most of the humor has been fairly self-deprecating in nature, but again she slammed some of her friends in her articles and a few family members on the other side of her family. She emailed my parents to invite them to read her article, and she expressly told them not to mention her blog to the other side of the family because she doesn't want them to see that she called my uncle Greg an 'idiot' in her Public Blog On The Internet. When my uncle Greg (her brother) confronted her about it, she accused him of not having a sense of humor, and then started attacking my parents because they must have shown Uncle Greg her Public Blog On The Internet. She's made it clear that she'll say whatever she wants about whomever she wants in the name of 'humor.'

I would rather her not be the subject of any of her blogs, and I am planning on spending her an email expressing this. In the course of wedding talk, I expressed my desire to stay level-headed throughout the wedding planning process, and Lisa just laughed and said, "Oh honey, all brides turn into bridezillas. It's inevitable." She already expects me to go bonkers at some point, and is probably constructing her blog(s) about it already. Frankly, I don't want her to publicly revel in any of our wedding mishaps, whether real, exaggerated, or completely fabricated. If it were someone I trusted writing a blog about it, I would even encourage humor about any bloopers, but Lisa's track record on lying and blogging mean things about family members leaves me with 0% confidence.

My questions:
1. Can I ask a blogger not to blog about a private event (wedding will be held on my parent's private property)? Or is all information public information?
2. Is this even something I should ask, or should I just suck it up and deal with the fallout?
3. How can I best word this request to be familiar yet serious?
4. I'm expecting some sort of push back about this. If Lisa tries to appeal to my better nature, is there a more useful response than "I'm afraid that won't be possible" via Miss Manners?
5. If Lisa gets angry, is there a better way to say, "Sorry, I don't care, deal with it"?
6. How can I respond if Lisa says something along the lines of "I'm going to do it anyway, you can't stop me"?

* All names is this thread have been changed for confidentiality.
posted by horizonseeker to Human Relations (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If I were you I would wait to see if she does blog about you, and if she does, asking her to take it down and saying you're not comfortable with that discussion of your personal life seems like a natural next step. Sending an email asking someone not to do something that you don't even have proof they are actually going to do is just asking for more trouble and drama, especially from someone who is already a known drama magnet.
posted by capricorn at 9:23 PM on March 17, 2014 [14 favorites]

This woman cannot be trusted. To ask her to restrain herself in her writings is to provoke her to write about you. If you really don't want your wedding planning process to not be fodder for her stories you have to refrain from including her in that process. She's like a petulant version of Facebook. At least Facebook can be restrained from broadcasting stuff to everyone, sometimes. Any attempt to adjust the privacy settings on will result in her dialing it up to 11 and working very hard to embarrass you. She can't share what she doesn't know.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:32 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

Sounds like you are stressed about this but from an outside perspective I can't quite grasp how this potential problem amounts to "impending blog doom." You don't live in the same town/community as Aunt Lisa. Would anyone you actually know (besides your relatives) actually ever read or even be aware of this strange-sounding online gossip column on a "local community website"? Maybe you are worried about relatives reading untrue things about you and then having to disabuse them of whatever nonsense was written over and over when you see them. But it sounds like even your relatives don't really believe the things she's saying.

My advice in a nutshell is try to not freak out about something you can't control. This "drama" will only effect your day-to-day life if you bother to read the blog or worry about it constantly. Even if she writes something, who cares? Laugh it off and ignore. If relatives bring it up, just laugh and say "Oh, that story wasn't very close to the truth. You know Lisa, she likes to exaggerate."

Asking her preemptively to not write about you is just gifting her with the opportunity to tease you for "not having a sense of humor" and probably ensuring she'll write you up as a "bridezilla". Keep the dress planning communications polite but brief. If she starts to gossip or mine you for wedding planning drama, listen without giving her too much feedback and at the soonest opportunity change the subject back to the dress or claim you are busy and need to get off the phone.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:45 PM on March 17, 2014 [28 favorites]

Dear Aunt Lisa,

I've been enjoying reading your new blog. (Insert specific comment about something you liked.)

I noticed that you included some jokes about people in our family. Recently I've been trying to dial back my online presence, and I'd particularly like to keep my family life private. Would you be willing not to mention me on your blog? I'm looking forward to celebrating our wedding day with you, and I'd like to enjoy it as a private event. Will you be able to leave our wedding out of your blog?


If her response is bad, you have a couple options. You'll need to think through how willing you are to set boundaries. Personally I wouldn't let her attend the wedding if she insists it is blog fodder.
posted by medusa at 9:49 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think you're way overthinking all of this.

What's the worst that could happen? Your aunt spreads boring/cliche bridezilla gossip about you on her blog? Unless your aunt is Arianna Huffington herself, I just don't see this being a huge thing.

The biggest consequence is, what? Someone maybe thinks some thoughts about you that are sort of mundane and typical of things people think all the time about women who are getting married? So what?

Are you going to lose your job? Are you going to starve? Is your relationship with your fiance going to be harmed?

Is there any aspect of this you can't easily dismiss as crazy Aunt Lisa whipping up drama?

Because, seriously, the best thing about knowing that someone is a drama queen and a gossip and potentially a liar is that when the inevitable happens, you can say, "Oh, you know Aunt Lisa," and everybody moves on.

If there really are real-world consequences, I would forgo the cheap wedding dress. I mean is it really worth whatever stain on your reputation you're imagining?
posted by Sara C. at 9:57 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

I just don't get why you talk to this person. Don't talk to her and she won't have anything to pass on that isn't public info anyway.
posted by Sequence at 10:20 PM on March 17, 2014 [9 favorites]

I don't speak to my aunt any more, for reasons. She heard I was getting divorced and wanted to post about it on Facebook. She couldn't find any pictures of me and my kids on the internet, so she posted a picture of some guy with the same name who looks nothing like me and said it was me and my kids. Her sister and my sister (from whom I heard this, as I hear all the stories) posted back on her Facebook that it wasn't me. First she insisted that it was, then took it down and claimed her Facebook was hacked...and that she probably couldn't find pictures of me on the internet because I was in jail for not paying child support.

Unsurprisingly, she's an alcoholic and the family drama queen, which are just two of my aforementioned reasons.

The point here is that crazy drunk aunts do crazy drunk aunt things, and the whole family knows what's going on, so just put distance between you and learn to laugh about it (and move on.) Don't engage.
posted by davejay at 10:34 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Asking her not to post about you will just end up with her posting about you. Don't even enter into that discussion with her. If she does write something at some point down the line, you can always ask her to take it down or to use a pseudonym for you and your partner.

Just tell yourself that she's a very creative writer, and has written some odd fiction about some characters that just happen to have the same names as your family members. That is essentially the truth of it anyway. Your family knows that what she says isn't true, you know it's not true, and chances are most people who know your aunt will also know it's not true.
posted by trivia genius at 10:41 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Is the potential drama of involving Aunt Lisa really worth having a tailored dress? I would be concerned that she will somehow mess up the dress, on purpose or by accident, and you will be forced to grit your teeth and say nothing for fear of being called a bridezilla on this blog.

Is she using fake names on the blog? Because if so I agree don't worry about it. But if she's using real names I would be concerned about explaining tis to potential employers who google you.
posted by hazyjane at 11:09 PM on March 17, 2014 [14 favorites]

I guard my privacy pretty fiercely and I'd be mad as hell if someone used my real name without my permission, especially if it was something unflattering as this is likely to be. I don't agree that this is necessarily harmless. Like hazyjane says, this could affect the OP professionally. (Although I can say from personal experience, a dinky little blog with few followers is hard to find on Google even when you are looking for it specifically :-)

I do agree that preemptively asking her to not blog about you will only encourage her. And if you've already taken her up on the offer of the dress, backing out now might give her material for her blog. I'd say try to minimize her knowledge of any wedding chaos - or better yet actively feed her lots of positive information.

If it becomes a serious problem and you find yourself to be the subject of her writing and she's not willing to respect your wishes, fight fire with fire and create a positive online presence. This was great advice on a vaguely similar question here a while back. Put up a quickie website about your wedding or your own WordPress blog similar, put yourself on Linked In, etc. Just try to make Google find your information before her blog.
posted by Beti at 11:47 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Saying anything about 'please don't post about me' will just ensure she WILL post about you. Compare it to feeding internet trolls: don't feed the trolls, don't feed your crazy drunk drama-queen aunt. Example: your worry about wedding stuff driving you nuts..... you just handed her a future blog topic, which I guarentee she WILL use and embellish.

Disengage from her as much as possible, and never EVER confide anything personal. And don't read her awful blog, don't discuss it, try to pretend it doesn't even exist.
posted by easily confused at 2:32 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Preemptively warn your closest relatives that this is likely to happen. Ask them to not tell you about whatever Aunt Lisa is writing because you really can't use the aggravation right now.
Otherwise people will carry drama to you!
posted by Omnomnom at 3:41 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

From your description, I think that writing your aunt a letter would be counterproductive and just make it more likely she'll write something nasty about you. Other answerers have given you good advice about preemptively talking to family members you respect and that kind of thing. Sorry you have to deal with this! I agree with everyone else who says not to write to her, not to read the blog, and not to talk about it.
posted by kavasa at 4:16 AM on March 18, 2014

Family, amirite?

I'm in the camp that says, leave it alone until it becomes an issue. She may fabricate some story and paint you in an unflattering light. But she hasn't yet.

If she does, rather than get angry, I'd approach her from a different angle, "Lisa, you know how much I love you and having you make my wedding dress was a beautiful way of sharing one of the most important days of my life. Now I read this story on your blog and not only is it untrue, it makes me look like a terrible person! I'm so hurt and disappointed."

There's no way she can come back from it. Guilt is a very effective weapon and it works so much better than indignation or anger.

If she weren't making your wedding dress, I'd call her on her bullshit right in the comments section of her blog. If she said something malicious about your uncle,

"Aunt Lisa, I know you think you're being funny, but this is just mean. Uncle Greg has been nothing but kind to you and it's not nice to call him an idiot."

Get the whole family to chime in.

The good news is, her readership may be entirely your family and no one else.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:28 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

> entertainment blog for her local community website

Sounds like this may be for a local publication? If so, does she have an editor? Could you have your family (or yourself) discuss privacy concerns with that person to exercise some editorial control - and at the very least get names anonymized.

Nthing the suggestion not to send a pre-emptive letter at all and to dial back any interactions where you might give her information or ammunition.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:42 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

This makes things like discussing wedding dress plans for our upcoming fall wedding with Lisa quite fun so far!

If you haven't realized already, this is incredibly foolish. Please tell me you've stopped sharing plans and thoughts with her in this way. You need to be shallowly polite with her and that's all. Don't get close to someone who is like this; especially when you had plenty of warning.

I would rather her not be the subject of any of her blogs, and I am planning on spending her an email expressing this.

You need to learn how not to be a target. This, along with your sharing, makes you one. End contact with her beyond basic pleasantries. Don't make yourself vulnerable.
posted by spaltavian at 5:57 AM on March 18, 2014 [12 favorites]

Does her editor know she's using real names? I'd circumvent her by approaching the publication itself.
posted by spunweb at 6:03 AM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

Don't talk to her about it preemptively -- you'll just give her ideas. Wait to see if she even writes about you before saying anything to her.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:21 AM on March 18, 2014

I agree with everyone that asking not be included on the blog will increase your chances of being included on the blog. But I also agree that you shouldn't worry about it. An "entertainment blog for her local community website" probably has a few dozen irregular readers at best. And even if she writes about her niece horizonseeker, unless she is referring to you as Horizonseeker Smith of City, whatever she writes won't be linked back to you in Google searches, etc.
posted by mikepop at 6:22 AM on March 18, 2014

Thinking about it a few things pop to mind. What you wrote suggests for all her bluster she is a bit conflict avoidant, preferring to do her sniping behind people's backs.
So, I'd suggest a multi pronged approach.
1. let her know you read her blog (even if you don't all that much), this may give her pause before writing about you as she knows you'll read it.
2. Post wedding, slowly disengage from her
3. If she does write mean-untrue stuff about you, confront her. ''It's not funny, it is mean and it makes me not trust you''
4. Number 3 is good to do, but concurrently also pratice being able to let things go after the fact, make decisions and actions because they are right, not because of the passion of the moment.
posted by edgeways at 6:25 AM on March 18, 2014

Thank you all for the wake up call!
Of COURSE my family won't believe lies Aunt Lisa publishes, because they know her and her credibility. I'm afraid I wasn't giving my family the credit they deserve to distinguish between truth and lies. Plus they'll be at the event as well and will see for themselves!
And now that it's in perspective, no, I don't care whether the same four residents who comment on Lisa's blog posts believe crazy junk about me. From now on, I will only discuss dress plans with her as she makes my wedding dress (and don't worry, I have a backup if dress plans go to shit) and radio silence for the rest.
I'll try to find out whether she publishes real names on her blog; I'm torn between wanting to verify this and not wanting to give her blog more page views. Luckily she has almost no online presence, despite tips she's received about commenting on other blogs. I think she wants people to miraculously find her blog on their own accord, be so blown away by the brilliant wit and satire that they share with all their friends, and then Lisa becomes an internet star asked to write her own column for Cosmo or Vogue. So far, she's emailed her four friends (including my parents) and told them to "get recruiting!" for her.
The only problem with that means that I will have to cut Grandma out of wedding planning stuff, which I don't want to do. Lisa lives on the lower level of the house of my grandparents, and cuts into most conversation. I am sad that separating from Aunt Lisa invariably means cutting my grandparents out of wedding planning as well :(
posted by horizonseeker at 7:16 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just to point out, when you say "the only people I haven't heard her speak ill of are [people who are usually in the room while I'm listening to her]" that doesn't mean she's not already saying crazy stuff about you and everyone you know. I encourage you to continue to avoid her blog, because that way you won't have to be aware of a lot of her drama.

About wedding planning, consider doing a lot of that conversation over the phone, or out of the house. "Hey Grandma, would you like to come out to the bakery with me to look at cakes?" And then you sit around a coffee shop and talk.
posted by aimedwander at 7:35 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

I wouldn't cut your grandparents out of all wedding talk lest your gossipy aunt think you're a "bridezilla".

Someone is inevitably going to think or say this of you at some point in your wedding planning process. So what? You still get to get married. It's not something that affects you in any way.
posted by Sara C. at 8:44 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Good for you!

Your backup dress is lovely; just keep in mind a firm date (with extra delivery time built in) by which you'll go ahead and order it: I'm afraid I could see your aunt not having the dress she's making completely finished and handed over to you in a timely fashion..... be prepared for her to start 'just one more day, you can see it in one more day, it's almost finished' until it's too late.

If Auntie Lisa's dress isn't in your hands by x date before the wedding, order the backup; don't let her make you crazy, don't give her "bridezilla" ammo for that stupid blog.
posted by easily confused at 12:15 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

All of the perky exclamation marks about how you and your fiance really lucked out!!! to have Lisa tailor your wedding dress sound like you are protesting way, way too much. You have this mefite's permission to cancel the plans for Lisa to make your dress without being a bad/ungrateful neice or whatever. You do not need weird entanglements that will make you feel beholden to Lisa's generosity when you are trying to disengage from being fodder for her gossip column.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 12:19 PM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

Aunt Lisa sounds like a coddled alcoholic with a touch of narcisism living in a fantasy world. I would ignore her. The only time i would even mention her blog to her is if she uses your real full name thus making her HIlarious blog post about you googlable, in which case I would just ask her to not use your full name because privacy.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Set up a google alert for your name and forget about it. If she posts your full name you'll know and that's the only scenario that is even vaguely concerning. Even that probably not the end of the world. Do not preemptively strike. That'll just make her mad for not supporting her and implying that she would say something embarrassing about you online. And she will likely retaliate in one way or another.
posted by whoaali at 7:55 PM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

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