So I just unfollowed several people from my FB feed, some of whom I’m actually friends with in “real life” and who I think well of, or at the very least I am personal acquaintances with. I mean, I get that you feel the way you do about current events and politics, and you have every right to post what you do…but I really don’t need it clogging up my newsfeed, especially since the posting has ratcheted up feverishly as we enter the final weeks of the election, but it’s the same old predictable shit over and over and OVER—yes, we get it, you hate so-and-so with the fire of a thousand suns and you have no shortage of memes and links to share to prove it…but more importantly, I just don’t want to be tempted into posting some kind of rebuttal and end up down the rabbit hole of a fruitless debate.
My question is this: How many of you take the view that it’s better to just unfollow and still stay FB friends, or do you think unfollowing defeats the point and should you just unfriend that person and be done with it? How many of you would feel insulted to find out I unfollowed you because of your political posts? Remember, I got unfriended by that very reasoning before. To me, unfollowing is just a prudent way of avoiding unnecessary conflict with a person, while unfriending is kind of like burning bridges and saying “fuck you, asshole”. If I run into that person who unfriended me out on the street—who once upon a time was a close personal friend—I’m not sure how I would act toward them…”Uh, hi?”
So, what do you think?
I’ve seen a few people make posts to this effect recently, and I agree with them: We all realize that none of our political posts ever changes anyone’s minds, don’t we? I’m starting to see a more frenetic pace of political posts from those FB friends I haven’t unfollowed but whose politics I don’t share. But if what you’re posting is meant to “educate” people about the vileness of such and such a candidate, you’re wasting your time.
I mean, I’m not saying don’t bother, because everybody should post about the things that matter to them. I have and will continue to do so. I’m just not deluded into thinking I’m making a difference when it comes to those who disagree with me. The most I hope for is that people who DO agree with me are encouraged by seeing someone articulate what they believe—I get quite a few private messages saying so—and maybe I can get people who are on the fence to think. (And I brace myself against those who disagree with me trying to hijack my comment thread with bombastic talking points, lol.) Having said that, I’ve been struck by the number of people who’ve told me privately that, while they don’t agree with everything I write, they still enjoy reading what I have to say. Maybe that means they think I’m being fair? Or am just articulate and write well? Whatever it is, it’s nice of them to say.
I was criticized this past summer and de-friended because I wrote about unfollowing people whose posts were too obnoxious. I don’t unfollow to disrespect people, or to shut them down, or to deny them their right to speak; I just prefer to avoid being tempted by their posts into getting into a long-winded debate that sucks up my mental energy but ultimately does nothing to change anybody’s minds or even to make them consider a different point of view. Tell me that when you see somebody post some obnoxious claim that you don’t hover the cursor over the comment box to refute them. I call that circling the rabbit hole. Gotta make a saving throw versus Wisdom to avoid diving in (you D&D nerds will get that reference, heh). Just better not to have seen it to begin with, right?
So long story short, knock yourself out with the political posts, but understand that in most cases we’re all just preaching to the choir.
Facebook, and social media in general, are exactly what we each choose to make of it. We can use it to share important moments in our lives, trivial moments in our lives, share silly videos of kittens and puppies, and of course pontificate about current events, among countless other purposes. We can make it as drama-filled or as chill as we decide. Despite lamentations when people become fed up with other people’s (usually political) posts, it’s neither good nor bad, but like all things it’s best in moderation and prudence.
Today I learned that a friend I went to college with passed away earlier this week, and I learned it because of Facebook. Without FB, it’s likely I may never have known, since I hadn’t seen him since I graduated college fourteen years ago, not unless I randomly ran into a common acquaintance somewhere down the line. So yes, Facebook is important that way.
This week I also apparently lost a friend because they took exception to my blog post about unfollowing friends whose political posts I had begun to find predictable and/or obnoxious. Insinuated I was being a hypocrite because I wouldn’t read their posts, but by staying FB friends I expected them to read mine, then subsequently unfriended me. That was a bummer, because we had been close once upon a time, even though we hadn’t spoke in over a year, and my blog had nothing to do with that person, specifically. It really bothered me, as have a couple of other people recently who’ve cut ties with me. I’m not talking about just losing touch; I mean they basically burned bridges, and I really don’t understand why. One person earlier this spring essentially stated I was using them in their final communique. “No offense, but I prefer friendships where the effort is mutual”, or something like that. Well, that’s pretty fucking offensive if you ask me, especially when you’re completely wrong. I consider myself to be capable of honest reflection and if somebody criticizes me and my character, I take it to heart…but for the life of me I still believe they’re both wrong in their characterization of me and to have done what they did. But what are you going to do?
I know this isn’t a bubbly post, but I needed to vent some frustrations publicly. Like I said, FB is what you make of it.
Over the past few years I’ve unfollowed (but not unfriended) many FB friends whose posts have become tiredly predictable, if not occasionally outright offensive. And yes, they are typically Tea Party/Trump supporters. I’m not even sure most of them are aware I’ve unfollowed them, or whether they’d even care if they knew. The thing is that I know most of them personally, and I genuinely like them and respect them; they are smart, bright, and they are in fact good people. These are not loonies or racists. They are sincere in their beliefs. Hopefully they realize that I am sincere in mine.
But, man, some of the things they post, share, or like are just downright disheartening when they’re not outright ridiculous. I don’t say this to be condescending or holier than thou; it’s just how I feel. But I’ve come to realize that it’s better to avoid being tempted to engage them in the first place, because that will only lead to bitterness, so that’s why I’ve unfollowed them. (And not, as I’m sure some of them would claim, because I “can’t handle the truth”…as they see it.)
I’ve stumbled upon several posts and memes that they’ve shared since Orlando, and I’ve read the comments of their likeminded companions…and I genuinely despair over how wide the gulf has become between the two sides in this country, and it’s only growing wider. It’s like this whole other country that I’m having trouble even relating to anymore. Some of the things that are espoused and accepted as fact in that community…man, I can’t even begin. I’ve almost come to the conclusion there’s no point in even trying to bridge that gulf anymore; just leave everybody to their own beliefs and hope that the side that my political leanings favor has enough numbers to outvote them.
I can’t vote for Trump. Even well into the primaries I was actually leaving the door open just a crack, both in the interest of open-mindedness and in case he started to turn toward the middle once he secured the nomination, as is common with presidential candidates; I joked that he would start saying things that even I would agree with…but to say he’s doubled down on his incendiary remarks that are completely calculated to fan the flames of bigotry is an understatement. I think he’s a charlatan, an insecure bully, and a xenophobe, among countless other things that have been well documented. And I’m convinced he’d be a disaster for this country. Not that my vote will matter in the Electoral College, since Trump as a Republican will carry Kansas easily. But the popular vote has its own moral value, and I want to be counted in that.