To un-friend, or not to un-friend…is there really a question?

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Politics is a nasty business. It absolutely brings out the worst in people, especially when the viewpoints they hold dear are challenged, or the beliefs they base their life upon are questioned.

But in this digital age of facebook, twitter, blogs, etc., how do we decide where to draw the line at what we will put up with?

The Huffington Post published a great article about this, written by Kergen Edwards-Stout. He is an author, a father, and yes – a gay man. But I believe it is this trifecta of roles that makes what he has to say so poignant. He is not speaking of a hypothetical social situation, he is speaking of his own situation. And he reminds us all that the stakes are so very high in this election, so should we not dismiss those who would oppress us with their vote?

The answer seems so simple, but it’s really not. What about your family members that just don’t know any better, or are of a generation that is too set in their ways to change? Do you just remove them from your social media life entirely, even if you still love and respect them in general? What if it sets off a “thing” with your whole family, where you are cast into the ‘angry liberal’ mold and suddenly your children are shut out of things? You see, there’s politics in families too – and you know it.

The same goes for friends…although admittedly this one is a tad bit easier. What if your friends say they support you on a personal level, but just don’t think the country is ready on a social level? (Yes, I’ve actually had this said to me) 

At what point do you decide out of a sense of self-worth and the principle of the thing to do something drastic like un-friending someone over their vote? And at what point does that become a self-important, intolerant temper tantrum?

I don’t really have an answer to any of these questions. But the way I see it is this (as I commented on the original article’s page):

I wouldn’t go this far personally, because it goes against my beliefs on freedom of speech – if I were to ask people to remove themselves from my page, in my eyes that’s no better than any other kind of discrimination. But I do have to say that watching all the posts from friends and family in favor of Romney does hurt, every time. And it’s for exactly the reasons this man has so eloquently outlined.  

So while I refuse to pitch a fit because someone doesn’t hold the same beliefs or ideals as I do, I do think it’s important that I make known and point out why it hurts me so much when those opposite ideals are espoused in my news feed. And it does. Because those that love me should want me to be seen as an equal citizen under the law. Those that care about me should want me to have the same protections and financial incentives that they do, simply by virtue of being born the way they are. And those that call me a friend should want to live in a world where I have the right to be recognized as equal and worthy – both by government and society – instead of wanting to live in a world where I am to be shoved as far back into the closet as possible. 

This is something I really wish people would understand…a vote against gay rights is a direct vote against my happiness and worth. It’s a deliberate action taken to ensure I do not equal you; that I am kept at the level of being less-than, second class, and wrong. 

I cannot fathom voting for someone who has vocally come out and said he supports a return to segregation any more than I can fathom any of you voting for someone who says he supports an amendment – the first of its kind, written into our Constitution that is supposed to outline our freedoms – that permanently cements my personhood, my citizenship, and my rights as not worthy of recognition or protection.

So there you have it. This is just my own personal take on it, although I know it mirrors the feelings of many LGBT people in this country.

What do you think? What would you do in my situation, and what do you think the response might be from those you choose to cut loose?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Follow more from this author, Jeni Cantrell, LGBT Activist @ jenibeanstalk.blogspot.com

Spiritual Advisor, contact @ jenirebeccaguides@gmail.com

PR/Media Director, T.R.I.P., Inc. @ tripinc.org (Texas Research and Investigations of the Paranormal)

 

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29 Comments

  1. If they’re family, I just hit “don’t show in news feed”. Same goes for people I care about or socialize with. Other wise, I don’t mind just deleting them, I wont miss them anyway.

  2. Our country was founded for political freedom (religion too) so i enjoy seeing and debating with people about these topics but Obama will win so i just kinda chuckel at them.

    • Theresa, I don’t agree with your assessment that Obama will win, but I do appreciate a good, civil political debate. We cannot hone our political beliefs by following blindly; we must hear others’ opinions to either confirm, adjust, or re-think our own.

  3. I don’t unfriend… i just remove them from showing up in my newsfeed. political differences/opinions do not merit an “un-friend” situation. as soon as the elections are over, i’ll make sure they show up in my newsfeed again! yay! 🙂

  4. I’m much more likely to unsubscribe than unfriend. That way I can still check in on them from time to time even if I don’t like things they are posting.

  5. I hide individual posts until that’s all I end up doing. Then, it depends on the relationship and if they comment on my posts whether I hide them or unfriend them. If they buy into the insane nonsense, though, it’s right to unfriend.

  6. If I see them in person but their post aggravate me, I have no reason to not unfriend them. Personally I don’t talking to family simply due to blood relation so I don’t have many people I disagree with regularly… but if someone’s doing it on YOUR wall and wont stop, that’s a boundary issue. I wouldn’t be speaking to someone who thought it was okay to ignore my feelings and keep doing things to me that bug me.

  7. I un-friend people if they post anything that is Racist, Homophobic, or Transphobic, I have a zero tolerance policy with abuse of any kind.

  8. And I’m sick of the excuse of people who are older being too set in their ways. -referring to a line in the article-

  9. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I enjoy getting different perspectives. I only delete if someone is plain disrespecting me. I have deleted a few men due to vulgar perverted remarks.

  10. That is one of the primary reasons I don’t ‘friend’ people that I don’t know personally. I’m too old for that ‘try to make a pal from a random stranger’ bullshit. If they wouldn’t be down to helping me out offline, then they aren’t worth friending online.

    That said, though… I wouldn’t dismiss someone just because they think differently. At least not automatically. If they have a valid point and not just “Because X sucks and you’re stupid if you like X”. That kind of person, I go out of my way to block. But I love a good debate. 🙂

  11. I will unsubscribe. Actually facebook helps here. If you ignore somebody’s comments, posts.. then slowly over time facebook stops bringing them to your news feed. If somebody posts things to my timeline on the other hand, knowing that I disagree with the views, I might unfriend. It depends on how I feel and the other person’s behaviour. It is complex. LOL.

  12. I don’t mind my friends/family expressing views that I disagree with.I have not unfriended anyone,yet.but I have blocked posts that I thought were too ignorant/ghetto,for my page.

  13. If someone is annoying, boring, or mean, i will unfriend them.

  14. If you are truly that closed minded to other peoples views and believe that your way is the only way, then you have some serious issues. There are lots of things on my friends posts that irritate me, but I dont go unfriending or hiding in news feed because I cant handle a little irritation. This world has become so overly sensitive its disgusting.

  15. I have declined friend requests from several people for different reasons such as bullying me when I was a teenager, their intolerance towards gay remarks and simply because I don’t like them as persons (and some like gossiping too much!) – but I have never unfriended anyone, yet, because in all my friends, there are positives that outweigh their faults and therefore I choose to tolerate them. Makes sense??

  16. I live my life by example and I will share any information I find that is helpful especially on the holistic health, organic and activism front. As far as I’m concerned, people can block or delete me I they don’t like what I’m posting and I will gladly delete or block someone who’s posts I don’t want to see (although its more like graphic images, sexism, racism, hate, anger etc than religious that gets me on the delete button).

  17. I had a “friend” unfriend me for my “radical activism”. Apparantly, standing up for human rights offended her. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t need people like that in myife.

  18. I ususally unfriend people that come on my page and shows diesrespect. Such as homophobia, sexism etc…I just unfriended a girl that told one of my friends to f@%k off. I will not tolerate this

  19. only ever unfriended one person. and the only reason I did was he basically insulted me in several posts. he was only a game add so no big loss. a far a any opinions differing from mine I just scroll past.

  20. If they’re just posting their disagreeable opinions and such and I don’t feel the need to see it, I would simply go their page and click the show in news feed button. If they start posting on my wall, I would ask them not to, if they persist, unfriend.

  21. Get Social Fixer and screen out their political posts. You don’t have to read them or get them posted on your wall if you don’t want.

  22. Case by case. I would unfriend{? de-friend?} people for hate speech, although it hasn’t come up. I tend to wear my bleeding heart on my sleeve and most of my friends know that I talk back to hate speech (which is NOT the same as cdensorship– I have the right to free speech too.” I had to delete and a couple of people for really narcissistic behavior (e.g. posting comment after comment and making sure that every conversation on my wall was all about him, even if it meant driving away any other commenters). I also have a few friends from real life that I have just switched to “show only important updates” until after the election. These are people I know socially whose politics are just appalling. I don’t know many– someone talked about not defriending people or ignoring what they say as a matter of free speech, and I don’t think it is. Their right to speak in no way obligates you to attend to what they are saying. Now that I think of it there are also a couple of people I haven’t added because I did not want to have to see their politics (I had been warned), but really, my opinion of you is going to be affected by the actions that you choose to take and that includes political ones. I think it’s wrong (so much so that I would defriend you if you did it) to put someone down for their sexual orientation or race, but it’s fair to judge you by an action that you choose to take, especially when that action affects my well-being.

  23. I bumped an old high school friend down to acquaintance status & now I post all my political posts as “friends except…” that way they don’t see them & can’t comment on them. If people post to my wall directly, I delete. My wall, my views. I treat my FB page like my living room & I have similar expectations of others’ behavior. I have bumped one very long standing much beloved friend down from “close” to regular friends, so that I can see fewer of their posts. Also, since I only follow “good friends” regularly, I don’t have to see that person’s posts at all, unless I deliberately go have a look. (In which case, I’m making a choice to expose myself to their offensive viewpoints.) I assume that after the election, I can bounce that person back up to close friend status (which is what I use for anyone I want to actually follow reasonably closely).

  24. I use the opportunity to educate and inform. If people I am friends with IRL post things that I find offensive, I tell them so. I debate their point in their posts (politely but firmly), avoiding ad hominem techniques. If they become offensive, I phone them and discuss it with them IRL. If, after that, I decide they aren’t someone I want to be friends with, then I would with a good will explain to them that we’re just on different pages and that I’d rather they didn’t post ‘like that’ to my wall or I will have to defriend them on fb. I’ve not encountered this with people I know IRL – though there’s certainly been a lot of political debate, I usually convince them to see my perspective hehehe. For people I don’t know IRL, it’s the same process, but I defriend a lot more easily and with no sense of failure or regret.

  25. What you see in your feed and what you allow to be posted on your wall is up to you. You don’t even have to remove the people to control that. If you don’t like the person, why have them on your facebook at all? I don’t see anything here that is really all that difficult to figure out.

  26. I have unfriended one person, a person who is more of a ‘friend of a friend’ in RL, when she posted something that I found personally offensive. When she told me in a PM that she didn’t mean to offend anybody it just made me more pleased to have defriended her, because it was one of those ‘how can this “NOT be offensive’ kind of things and if she truly had no problem with it then she’s not somebody I want on my newsfeed. And I haven’t missed her. I have a few family members among my friends who hold opposing political views to mine, and I mostly just grit my teeth and ignore them, because hey, family, what can ya do? Shout-out to all the black sheep of the families…

  27. I don’t unfriend people because of differeing political or religious views, etc. Everyone is entitled their own opinions and beliefs. I only unfriend people when they begin to make personal attacks and/or lie about me. Then I totally block them, because when you cross “that” line with me (and everyone has a breaking point), there is no coming back. You may as well have stepped off a 200 ft cliff — I’m done with you, permanently.

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