I unfriended this jerk on Facebook today. He was hitting me with some PC/right-wing/left-wing bullshit and…
No, actually I didn’t. I’ve got over 750 connections on Facebook, and I’ve never unfriended anyone other than strangers clearly looking to scam me. I’ve been unfriended by several people I’ve known a long time, and damn it’s disappointing. I’ve taken some hard hits on Facebook, but I don’t unfriend because it seems a retreat and a capitulation. When people are rude, I assume I’ve pushed their buttons; I’m usually sorry for having provoked them. I’d certainly unfriend a person who hounded me, but no one has, and this isn’t too surprising: public Facebook threads aren’t good for harassment. My reasonable friends will mock and otherwise attack provocateurs and wear down all but the most clueless and sociopathic. I would unfriend someone who stubbornly defended cruelty or discrimination, but, again, I can’t say I’ve really had the opportunity.
Some friends post a lot of what I’d call bullshit, not because it’s provocative but because it strikes me as facile or naïve, and a waste of my attention. No need to unfriend these people; it’s easy to set the option to filter out their posts. Unfriending people with whom you’re acquainted is a form of shunning. Some will blow it off, and others will be deeply hurt, depending on how they perceive your relationship. Why take this hateful step? I’ve come to value the opinions of people who don’t agree with me. Sure I can get angry, but that’s an opportunity for self-reflection and mental exercise.
I’ve read many posts announcing and rationalizing unfriending, and mostly the arguments seem good. Of course, they present only one side, but there clearly are legitimate reasons to break a connection. Generally, though, unfriending those you’ve known a while is crap. True liberals who respect science and logical argument don’t use social media to cocoon themselves in agreement. That’s what reactionaries do, and they’re all over the political spectrum.