Dear Amy: I live in a fairly large community, and I am a member of several local interest groups on Facebook.


Some are hobby-related, and some are community issues (and rant/raves about those issues).


I’m curious about what someone should do if they happen to see another group member in public? Should one say hi?


Twice recently I have seen individuals in a public place and recognized them from these Facebook groups. In one case it was a lady from a hobby group I’m in, and both of us were in a hurry, but she recognized me too and gave me a quick smile and wave (and I did the same).


The second instance was a gentleman who is a member of several of the issue-type groups. To be honest, he has gained a bit of a reputation as basically being a troll.


He is sarcastic and enjoys playing devil’s advocate most of the time, but I wouldn’t call him particularly derogatory.


I saw him at a fast-food place, and I wasn’t 100 percent sure I recognized him, but as he left, he turned toward me, gave me a beaming smile and walked out laughing. Later that day, while he did not name me specifically, he made a post in one of the groups stating that while some might say he is a troll, at least someone now had proof he didn’t eat like one.


I’m just wondering if in the future I should say hi to a local fellow member of a group? — Facebook Flummoxed


Dear Flummoxed: Encountering someone in real life whom you know only in the online world can be a surreal experience. I’d compare it to encountering a local TV newscaster. You recognize the person — but from where? Once you can accurately place the person, it can be too late.


Yes, if you enjoy benign interactions online, you should definitely say hello. I have been fortunate to form wonderful real-world friendships from people I’ve met online, and the beauty of community-based groups is that by the time you meet each other, you already know quite a bit about the other person.


However, if your instincts tell you to steer clear, then definitely do so.


Dear Amy: My husband and I went to a diner. When we asked for the check, we were told that a family that had just left had paid for our dinner.


We both asked, “Why?”


The waitress said, “I don’t know. They just did.”


I asked if they were frequent customers, and the waitress said no.


We asked for the name on their credit card so we could thank them and were told that they paid cash.


We can’t understand it. Do you have any idea why someone would do this? — Wondering Diners


Dear Wondering: The motivation behind this is simple: There are some kind and generous people in this world who enjoy performing anonymous acts of kindness.


You and your husband might have reminded them of their folks, or other loved ones in their own lives.


Maybe they just received a little windfall and wanted to celebrate by being generous. Or maybe some anonymous person had recently picked up their check, and they wanted to “pay it forward.”


I hope this gesture makes you smile. (It makes me smile.) I also hope that you are able to accept this generosity with an open mind and heart. You could pay this forward by performing an anonymous act of kindness toward someone else.


Dear Amy: I read the letter signed “Survivor,” who wants to confront her bully.


I could be that bully.


Like the survivor, I was also sexually abused, beginning at age six. I didn’t know how to ask for help and instead I would scream for hours and hours until I lost my voice. Also, like the survivor, no one helped me.


I became terrified of everyone and everything until I began hating everyone and everything. Especially myself.


I wish I could tell the person I bullied that it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me. That I thought I was somehow protecting myself by bullying her. It was how I kept people away from me. I think of her every day.


I try to live each day now by being kind. After years of alcoholism I finally got sober and I am trying to help others in their sobriety. — Also a Survivor


Dear Survivor: In my response, I pointed out that bullies are often victims, themselves. Congratulations on your own healing.