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How to Tell if Someone Is Trying to Undermine You on Facebook

Athlyn Green is an intuitive counselor who also combines psychological and self-empowerment approaches.

Have you encountered an underminer on Facebook? Learn how to recognise them and how to cope.

Have you encountered an underminer on Facebook? Learn how to recognise them and how to cope.

The New Face of Undermining

Underminers leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding new targets to hone in on. Social networks have provided a new platform where toxic people can operate from the comfort of their living rooms. If someone gets off on playing mind games and wants to take a stab at someone, they don't even have to do it face-to-face. The virtual world offers a lazy man's way of sticking it to others.

We've all heard of trolling or random cyber-bullying of strangers in forums or at other places, but what about those who pose as Facebook friends, acquaintances you've added to your list of contacts, and those who've contacted you out of the blue, seemingly seeking information, but whose objective is to use Facebook to unleash their brand of toxic on you?

Three Common Undermining Scenarios

It goes without saying that underminers may have unresolved issues, but this article isn't discussing what motivates them to do what they do; rather, the focus is on whether or not you have been targeted.

If you aren't prepared, undermining may come as a bit of a surprise and can be very unsettling. At some point, there's a good likelihood it will happen to you. This article describes three common scenarios and actual experiences. As you read, try to determine if something similar has happened to you, because once you know what to look for, undermining is easier to spot.

"I'm analyzing everything you post."

"I'm analyzing everything you post."

1. The Pick-Apart-Your-Post Underminer

Have you ever had this happen to you? You post something and someone you consider a friend subtly picks it apart. They ask if you aren't worried about the reactions of others who might read your post. You know that your post was harmless and nothing that would concern anyone else, so you are confused as to why your friend has even brought this up.

You tell your friend you aren't worried, but your friend goes to great pains to impress on you that others will read your post and will be wondering about your character. You're left scratching your head, wondering what all the fuss is about.

You'll know you are dealing with an underminer if they continue this pattern, watching your posts, then dropping their "comment bombs" intimating that you weren't being discreet. Your friend will never come right out and say that, of course, but it's implied.

If something similar has happened to you, you might find yourself wondering why anyone would waste their time worrying about what is posted on your wall. But an underminer will use this as an opportunity to try to shake your confidence and to get at you.

My Actual Experience

I posted a photo of a beautiful dress and a friend kept remarking on how "flirty" I was. I laughed out loud (I'm a knitting grandmother). Interestingly enough, this so-called friend kept mentioning this post and she was soon making subtle comments on my other posts. I shook my head at someone having that much time available to actually scrutinize my posts and then give me their blow-by-blow interpretation of same.

Nuisance messages can pop up and invade your peace.

Nuisance messages can pop up and invade your peace.

2. The Expecting-Immediate-Attention Underminer

In another scenario, someone may request you add them, and soon, you find yourself wishing you hadn't. This person takes liberties, assumes a friendship that isn't there and worse still, starts to consume your time. You barely know them and don't owe them that level of attention but they expect you to be at their beck and call.

They may ask why you aren't responding to them, ask if you are mad at them, act like you are ignoring them, or claim you are too busy for them. Whatever it is, they try to guilt you into giving them more attention than you are in a position to give and they make you out to be the bad guy.

If something like this has happened to you, you may have found yourself shaking your head at grownups who act like petulant, demanding children.

My Actual Experience

An acquaintance asked why I didn't respond to her message. I explained that while my Facebook might be open, I was often busy with work or talking with someone else or was away from my computer—but I assured her that, when I was in a position to do so, I would respond to any message she sent.

I figured I'd set her mind at rest and that from that point onward, it would be smooth sailing. Wrong. A few days later, a message popped up, a few seconds passed, then she asked if I was mad at her. I stopped what I was doing and once again explained that if I didn't respond right away, it wasn't because I was mad but because I was busy. At this point, I suspected this person expected instant responses and felt put out when she didn't get them.

She texted again, I didn't respond, and another message popped up: "Well, I guess you're just too busy to talk to me even for just a few seconds." I messaged back and stated that I was busy. I was working, in fact, and right in the middle of something. She responded sarcastically, "Yes, some people work ALL the time."

A couple of days later, she tried a variation on this theme. "It's obvious some people just aren't that important to you and you figure you can just ignore them."

I found this behavior odd and annoying because when I wasn't busy, I had sent her a couple of messages.

The last message I received from her went something like this: "I won't bother you anymore. I know when I'm not wanted."

After reading her last message, I replied that I had already explained matters to her and wasn't wasting anymore time on this. And I blocked her. Not my circus, not my monkeys, especially since this person wasn't a friend but a recent acquaintance.

This person seems to have nothing better to do than expend energy trying to pick apart any statement you make.

This person seems to have nothing better to do than expend energy trying to pick apart any statement you make.

3. The Dismiss-What-You-Say Underminer

In a third scenario, you may be contacted by a complete stranger and soon matters have progressed to a surreal level. You come away from exchanges wondering what is going on. The person presses your buttons, undermines your statements, tries to maneuver you into a defensive position, and continues to subtly undermine you.

We've all run into people like this in daily life, complete strangers who start questioning our statements, actions or motives and who try to make us feel small, but it's a real surprise when this also happens at Facebook.

My Actual Experience

I was recently contacted by a fellow who appeared quite benign and who asked me lots of questions about my intuitive abilities.

My spidey senses went up. He seemed too conversational somehow and was obviously trying to draw me out. I wondered what he was up to, so I decided to watch and wait, suspecting he would reveal himself.

As we messaged, I noticed he downplayed anything I said and dismissed it as being unscientific and as having no relevance. I found myself thinking, uh-huh one of those... I could see he was trying to maneuver me into defending my statements.

Instead, I told him I had no need to defend myself or how I did things, that I was quite comfortable with myself. And to each his own. I suggested that since he questioned what I had told him, perhaps he might like to explain how I did what I did. He seemed at a loss and I suspect he was surprised that I had turned the tables on him.

Of course, he wouldn't let it drop, so he asked me to send him an article.

I did and his mask completely slipped. He immediately dismissed my information as "no kind of proof" (I hadn't sent it as proof), that he knew all about people like me. He went so far as to call me a charlatan and even threatened to come to my area and discredit me.

Wow! All this hostility from a complete stranger. I marveled at his need to demolish others' statements and the lengths he was prepared to go to play his twisted game, resorting to name-calling and threats. I immediately blocked him.

Unfriend and block underminers.

Unfriend and block underminers.

Unfriend or Block These Virtual Saboteurs

Undermining can take many forms and each situation is different but no matter what form it takes, undermining usually plays out in a pattern of repeated attempts to make you question yourself, feel bad about your choices, or diminish you in some fashion. These attempts are usually subtle, slipped in under the radar, as it were, but may progress to more obvious put-downs as your underminer becomes bolder.

Of course, it's a given that you'll want to make sure that this is what is actually occurring. Any person can have an off day or make a remark without thinking and we don't want to be overly sensitive or too easily offended; however, if you find that someone persists in trying to make you feel bad, it's up to you to put a stop to it. You don't have to allow this twisted game to continue.

© 2017 Athlyn Green