I unfriended two people on Facebook yesterday… I’ve been doing that a lot lately.
Facebook used to be an important part of my network and ability to connect with the world. It is still a great way to connect, but I am not currently at a point in my life where I just accept any friend request, and when someone has a pattern of saying antagonistic shit or I find unnecessarily negative I usually just unfriend them. Yesterday, the issue was Donald Trump. The two people I unfriended are Trump supporters and said some really obnoxious and abrasive shit.
Being a Trump supporter isn’t really enough for me to unfriend you. I have friends that support Trump and I’m somewhat sympathetic to their reasoning, even though I disagree.* The important thing is that they have built up social capital with me… we’ve had beers and reasonable discussions about a variety of issues, we share a bond and have mutual respect… so when we have a disagreement there is a certain amount of courtesy that is shown. That isn’t the case with people that I only know through Facebook if you are an asshole who has a fake name without a real profile picture my tolerance for you is going to be low.
Occasionally, whenever I unfriend someone like this they send me some snarky message. Today I got one that simply said “enjoy your echo chamber”, which got me thinking, am I creating an echo chamber for myself but cutting negative people out of my life?
Fuck no, I am not.
First off, I am not cutting people out simply for disagreeing with me, I’m cutting them out for being kind of douchey.
Second, my life isn’t Facebook. My experiences are much broader than that. If I decide I want Facebook to be a place of peace, love, and only like-minded people there is nothing wrong with that. I can customize my social media experience to be what I want it to be (that’s the beauty of it). I have no moral obligation to fill my Facebook feed with every opinion any more than I have a moral obligation to let someone in my house that has opinions I find deplorable. That doesn’t mean I live in an echo chamber, it means I want to compartmentalize my life.
I still expose myself to a variety of views and read on a variety of subjects. I still have friends with different religious and political beliefs, but they are friends… not anonymous asshats on the interweb.
So, if you disagree with me or think one of my posts are off the mark that is fine, but maybe show a little humility and build a friendship with me instead of donning your keyboard warrior armor to fight the good fight, and then get all butthurt when I banish you with the push of a button. The best conversations of my life have been with people who I disagree with, those are the conversations that helped me grow intellectually, but those conversations came from people who I knew as peers instead of someone cowering in anonymity.
*I guess I’m willing to discuss my thoughts on Clinton v Trump but for the most part I’m agnostic, they both suck and my vote won’t mean anything so I’m focused on other things in my life. My big concern with Trump isn’t his policies, but how his election may encourage people to do violence against those that I love. And I really don’t want to be put in a position where I will do violence back.