June 11, 2016

How to Lose at Facebook: Unfriend Anyone Who Disagrees With You

Facebook circle pictogramLet me preface this by pointing out that I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. For reasons I don't fully understand, I am convinced that Facebook brings out the worst in many people, especially when it comes to politics. I often find myself wondering whether some Facebook users are really as desperate as they seem to convince others of how irrational they are. It is almost as if there is a competition going on, and I didn't get the memo. And yet, I view Facebook as a necessary evil. It is undeniably useful in providing me with another way to connect with readers of this blog who prefer not to comment here. It can also be a decent way to catch news stories I'd otherwise miss. I minimize the amount of time I spend on Facebook but have not eliminated it from my routine completely.

In a couple of recent posts, I have commented on the irrationality of some of my fellow supporters of Bernie Sanders and wondered how they are going to handle the Democratic nomination being secured by Hillary Clinton. I have found it somewhat worrisome how desperately some have been clinging to the conviction that their candidate will win the Democratic nomination and their willingness to disregard reality in the process. I say this more from a point of curiosity and concern than one of criticism. After all, I can relate to their feelings of disappointment. I wanted Sanders to win too.

By focusing on Sanders' supporters in those posts, I did not intend to give the impression that there is not plenty of irrationality to go around among some Clinton supporters. The image below contains a striking example in the form of - you guessed it - a Facebook post. I removed the name of the person who posted this because I am not interested in participating in a public shaming. And this is merely one example of several similar posts I have seen.

facebook post
The message was painfully clear. Disagree with my perspective, and I'll unfriend you. Criticize the candidate I have decided to support, and I'll unfriend you. I will accept no social media connections who disagree with my political views. Great. Please feel free to unfriend me. I would not want to interfere with your enjoyment of your fact-proof screen.

If there is an upside to this sordid tale, and I believe that there is, it is that I was not alone in expressing this sentiment. There were at least a few of us - Facebook friends of this individual - who responded with variations of the same message. Go ahead and unfriend me. I am not about to promise that I will never say anything negative about the ideas expressed by Hillary Clinton or any other public figure. I came to terms long ago with the realization that freethought can be a lonely path. It is not a path from which I will be dissuaded by ridiculous threats of unfriending on Facebook.
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