The Mind of Anne

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November 20th, 2015 I unfriended someone today. . .


Unfriend

Unfriend – The button I dread using

I felt compelled to unfriend someone on Facebook today. I’ve only done this two or three times ever so it is unsettling. I met this person just once through a mutual friend but we got along well so I thought we might become friends in real life.

I don’t agree with everything everyone posts and I’m sure people don’t agree with me all the time. I look at Facebook like a cocktail party. I try to keep my subjects light and avoid sex, politics and religion like my parents taught me to when at public functions. I primarily post original content or augment any memes with my own thoughts so my friends get a sense of me in my posts. Memes can be fun or clever but they are not a substitute for my thoughts.

So what did this person do to put me over the edge?

It’s been an especially sensitive time. Between the Syrian refugee crisis, the constant political banter and the ongoing terrorism worldwide culminated by the tragedy in Paris, I feel particularly emotional. I recognize that very few issues are absolutely black and white. And that’s the rub.

My “friend” copied/pasted/shared a number of extremely long tirades that were mean-spirited, venomous and filled with inaccurate characterizations – day after day after day. It didn’t matter whether I agreed or disagreed with any part of the posts, I didn’t want to see any of the posts because they were so full of hate.

The clever arguments that didn’t quite hold together for me made it worse. There were quotes taken out of context and actions twisted to the point where the actual intent or results were no longer recognizable. To me, the posts felt xenophobic, racist and full of hatred. They also felt like so much shortsighted rhetoric meant to polarize people.

The worst part of it is that I don’t actually know that my friend feels as strongly as the posts make it seem. A Hallmark card can’t possibly say exactly what you want to say to your mom or your sweetheart. And these tirades or memes written by armchair quarterback strangers can’t possibly represent your true thoughts and feelings with any degree of accuracy. It’s not all black and white. Yet they are so easy to copy/paste/share. My friend chose these strangers’ words over their own.

Another thing my parents taught me was to listen and learn from others. What the tirades and memes do is shut down communication. They form a monologue and prevent a dialogue. The message is: I am right and if you don’t agree, you are wrong. The comments often take a nasty turn for anyone who disagrees.

My method of forming an opinion entails pondering a number of viewpoints on an issue, making sure my research is accurate and thorough, working out the “what ifs” and then developing my own view, which may be a hybrid version all my own. This is something I have taught my own children: don’t let anyone do your thinking for you.

So there it is. My friend repeatedly expressed opinions using the canned thoughts of others and in such a vile way, I couldn’t stand it anymore and clicked – UNFRIEND. What happens if I ever see my friend in real life is yet to be seen but I know I’m going to wish I never saw those posts. I hope I always remember to think about how people might feel about me when they read what I write. Will you?