Recently on Facebook, I unfriended a chap with whom I have been friends, or at least on good terms, for more than thirty years. He had posted a status update asking to be unfriended by anyone who disagreed with him on a certain political issue, but that’s not why I did it. In truth, my position on this particular issue is closer to his than to his opposition, but in reviewing his posts, I found that about 95% were political vitriol, and only a few had anything to do with his life or mine or any shared social concerns. My mother (and his) always warned against discussing politics and religion, and while the Internet certainly offers safe venues for breaking that admonition, Facebook is not one of them. But that’s not why I did it either.
This gentleman is one of those people who feel the need constantly to berate the world with jokes, factoids, and insults supporting his point of view, without regard to fairness or facts or the ineffable reality that life is never as cut and dried as political pundits would have us see it. He happens to follow the republicans, but the disease is not unique to his side of the political spectrum. Occasionally, when one of his posts was factually in error, or supported the opposite position when taken in context, I would point this out and provide a link or two to the correct information. He wouldn’t argue the point, he simply ignored me and carried on metaphorically high-fiveing the affirmative responses of his like minded friends.
Fine. We are all entitled to our opinions, and in this great nation, to giving them voice. Live and let live.
But here’s the thing. We all have to share the same facts. There are places for debate, and there are places for social niceties. There is no place–in my life—for disregard for the truth.
So here is my Facebook manifesto. If you disagree with me, fine. If I have time and inclination, I am happy to debate you on an appropriate forum. If you convince me that you are right, I will admit it and thank you–I have a track record of doing so. If you can’t convince me, I am happy to remain your friend. I have a track record for doing that too.
- If you are so lazy that you cannot be bothered to Google the facts around a topic before posting your opinion about it, then your opinions are worthless.
- If you are so insecure that you are unwilling to consider any facts that don’t support your position, then I can safely assume that you are wrong about nearly everything.
- If you think people with more education than you consistently disagree with your positions because they have been taught not to think with your simple, folksy directness, bring it on.
But really, if you are so ignorant, fatuous, and miserable, that you have nothing better to do than clog up my social networking experience with unsubstantiated, simple-minded yech, then unfriend me. Save me the trouble. And got help us all come election time.