My former greatest good friend is spreading lies about me in her TikTok movies, on this week’s We’re Prudence.
Every Thursday, Dear Prudence on Twitter @jdesmondharris asks readers for their thoughts on a question that baffles them. She will post her final thoughts on this on Friday. Here is this week’s dilemma and answer:
I’m a woman in my mid-twenties who had a heated argument in 2019 with a person I referred to as my best friend. It was a tough decision to get rid of her from my life as we had attended school together from kindergarten to high school and I had shared a lot of vulnerable information with her about past mental health issues and my sexuality. I won’t go into details why the friendship had to end, but I will say that I had nightmares for months because she treated me so badly. She harassed me in the weeks after our friendship broke up, wrote my mother (!) That she could not leave you voicemails, who knew that) and more.
Prudie, she was a terrible friend and a really poisonous person. On the advice of a therapist and out of my own sanity, I blocked her on all social media platforms I had at the time. About a year later, I was so much happier that I decided to prioritize friends who respect me! At that time, I accidentally created a TikTok account which I learned she frequently posted videos about me (which she continues to this day, a full two years later)! She never uses my name explicitly, but instead reveals details that make it very clear who I am, such as the use of a popular audio clip that includes my first name, and notes in the comments that it’s ironic what my name is , or write my name in the video but blur two letters in the middle, etc. (For reference, I’d estimate that she has posted a video about me about once a month since fall 2019.)
She claims to be a mental health advocate, and her followers comment on how brave she is after facing a terrible friend like me for so many years. I don’t know how she twists this stuff to make her look like the good guy, but she manages to win tons of sympathy from internet strangers. I don’t check her account often, but occasionally when I’m feeling bad I look at her to see if she’s still doing it, and she always does. I know I should just block them on TikTok too, but that’s easier said than done. I don’t think she knows I saw her account as I would never follow her and my profile doesn’t have a name or anything that would identify me.
At this point, I feel like the videos are getting more targeted, and while she still doesn’t use my name directly, it reveals very sensitive, specific details that I shared with her many years ago. I’m afraid she might share more embarrassing information. I was told by casual high school friends that they know she’s making these videos about me and that they are sorry she’s so crazy. So when she gives out information, these people I know in real life are learning things about me that I really wish they didn’t have. Should I contact her to tell her to take it off? Send a fake cease and desist statement? Let go and hope that she doesn’t continue her trend of becoming more specific or revealing my identity?
– I wish I could just go on
So I don’t think you should take legal action or send a fake (or real) cease and desist statement. It’s unlikely to be effective and just give your ex-boyfriend more ammo. As @marceregist put it, “You can always send a letter, but (a) the next tiktok will wave this letter around saying that she is being threatened by her evil doer and (b) even if she named her, libel cases are expensive . chaotic and never guaranteed winners. “
That’s more material than you want to give her and more time and money than you want to spend on it. When I asked readers for help in finding a solution to your letter, it was agreed that the best thing to do would be to block them – and I would add that you have the discipline to stop these occasional reviews. This is how you protect yourself from having to absorb these attacks. Even if they don’t know you’ve seen their content, you are affected.
But that doesn’t mean you are powerless here. Have an open conversation with mutual friends about what happened and ask them not to get involved either (if I were your friend, I would block her out of solidarity!):
“Uff. I’d go to any mutual connection and say something like, ‘obviously it’s humiliating that Jennica made up this fictional version of me. Could you help me by not talking to me about her or the other way around? Thank you . ‘ Then block her. She can embarrass herself without you! “- @Rose_Szabo_
“1. Block them. 2. The internet randos will never know it is, so stop worrying. 3. Explain to mutual friends that the posts are retaliatory and that they assume that any secret information that is revealed is a lie, and be aware that you do not want their posts to be updated in the future. “- @ mboehm214
Some people suggested that you name someone to keep an eye on them and let you know if the behavior escalates into something more worrisome, like the law. I think this is a good idea if any of your friends are ready.
“4. Maybe you trust a good friend to follow the ex-girlfriend to make sure the posts don’t cross the line to explicitly identify them. ”- @ mboehm214
“Having to monitor this yourself is not healthy. I would block them and choose someone I trust to help me out if their account cannot be blocked. 2 years of harassment videos are over the top and obsessive. ”- @ SandhyaSunset23
@Kara_woo also made a good point: the people who know you know very well that these allegations are untrue and that she is behaving in a worrying way. It’s very unlikely that someone who knows the two of you in real life – or understands what constitutes sensible behavior on social media – thinks less of you because of what they share.
Your friends seem to know that their posts say more about them than they do about you. So it’s annoying that she should reveal information you don’t want, but you can trust that the people who really matter will see their actions for what they are. – @kara_woo
Keep this in mind and you may find inspiration in what a reader (who responded via DM because they wanted to remain anonymous) said about dealing with a similar situation:
“When I had such a friend, I learned that there was literally NO WAY I could get them to stop what they were doing. There is literally nothing you can do to stop them. Nothing. It has to be EVERYTHING of you … What I found out – and that was 10 years ago – was that I was the person who didn’t gossip, who didn’t say bad things about my boyfriend, who didn’t get attention to things, everyone Whose opinion was important to me, she saw for what she was. I hate to say ‘get up’ … maybe it’s more like ‘know your enemy’ and know that satisfying their need for attention only makes them more intense. “
It’s horrible for this to happen to you, but it’s also an opportunity to remind you and your friends of the kind of person you actually are – which is of course very different from the way you are portrayed. Call it being the bigger person, protecting your energies, or whatever feels right. You signed your letter, “I wish I could go on,” and the good news is that you really can.
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My friend “June” and I have been close since college. She is a wonderful, kind, generous person. In our 20s, we both made bad financial decisions, which resulted in us both running up significant credit card debt. In the past few years, I’ve started to seriously end my debt at 40. I have made some significant strides and I aim to continue my success. In November we both got engaged to wonderful people – yay! For a variety of reasons, including financial reasons, I originally planned to run away and have a casual dinner party at my house a month later. My fiancé has since been released, so we decided to cancel the dinner party. In contrast, June celebrates an extravagant, big wedding. I’m at the wedding and I’m spending thousands of dollars – more than I would on my own wedding! I am becoming increasingly stressed about the cost of their wedding as I am now my family’s only provider. I also just learned that she is planning to file for bankruptcy despite the fact that she keeps telling me to be romantic and have the wedding of my dreams.