One of my problems in life is that I like people a lot (although admittedly, I’m not always sure why).
But as you can probably suspect, it hasn’t been working out that well.
I discovered, to my own surprise, that I was a huge patsy who couldn’t say no to a friend request, especially from a person I had to face later at school or at work. And I also couldn’t say no to the temptation to friend every interesting person whom I randomly met, even though I knew that the possibility that we would ever hang out again was very, very low.
And so the number of my Facebook friends grew. And so did my dilemma: When and under what circumstances to get rid of those Facebook “friends” whose opinions were irritating, dumb, or downright offensive?
You see, the reason why I’m pondering this is that I like to think of myself as an accepting and open-minded person, whose ego is strong enough to handle that sometimes I disagree with people. And I’m also the one who has been known to occasionally make fun of folks who are so easily offended that you hurt their feelings when you say as much as “hello”. As a result, I feel like a huge hypocrite every time I get mad about something people are posting to the point that I don’t want to call them friends anymore.
But – what if the stuff they are posting really is too much and contradicts everything you believe in? I already wrote in one of my early columns about a person I unfriended when he continued to post blatantly racist and anti-Muslim propaganda, some of which came from an author who said publicly that the only way to deal with (all) Muslims was to bomb them all, children included.
And for the record, I don’t feel at all bad about this one!
Conversely, I was unfriended by a former coworker and a (relatively) close friend who suddenly, after several years of friendship, realized that I was pro-choice – and that was it.
So I was on both sides of the barricade!
But the reason why I’m writing this specific column is that a while ago I flipped out when I read a post from a former coworker, with whom I was never particularly close, but whom I admired because she was smart and beautiful and her Facebook posts read like poetry. She was also a conservative Christian. I never minded her sharing her thoughts and feelings about God, because her posts were so loving, uplifting, and positive that even as a non-Christian I simply had to appreciate them.
So imagine my surprise when I suddenly came across one that was downright nasty. I didn’t save or copy-and-paste it, so you only have my word for it, but trust me: It was NOT loving, uplifting, and positive at all! The main message boiled down to the statement that only people who believed in HER God had the right to call themselves spiritual, and everyone else who did so was deluded, wrong, and ridiculous. And apparently most ridiculous were those people who expressed their relationship with the divine by wearing “certain” clothes, listening to “certain” music, and burning incense.
You didn’t have to be a genius to figure out that she was targeting mainly people practicing New Age types of spirituality (although Hindus and Buddhists and such might have been a part of the mix as well; I’m not sure). In any case, I took offense, because I do practice New Age spirituality and I didn’t see any reason why anyone should have the right to decide whether I could call myself spiritual or not. So I commented on her post about how disappointed I was that she turned out to be such a judgmental person, and unfriended her before she even had a chance to respond.
Right or wrong?
I have been thinking about it ever since because I worry that by deleting her from my friends I became exactly the kind of person I don’t want to be – intolerant of different point of views. I do have to say in my defense though that it wasn’t so much her point of view that made my skin crawl (I mean duh! She was a conservative evangelical Christian – OF COURSE she didn’t consider pagans her brothers in faith!); it was the insulting tone she used. I simply felt that if I wanted to be surrounded by judgmental assholes who think they have the right to decide for others what is the one and only “right” way to do things, I could have stayed in Czech Republic. So I snapped.
But, you know, something in me is still wondering whether I did the right thing!
And so I would like to ask you, my dear readers, what do YOU think about this and what is YOUR thin red line? What are you willing to tolerate from your friends on media and what would be too much? Have you ever felt bad about unfriending somebody? How does person manage to stay open-minded and accepting, but still fight oppressive viewpoints?
Maybe if I get some feedback, I will find some peace and start worrying about something else for a change J