Facebook Politics DislikeIf you are a tween girl looking for Greyson Chance, move along

Have you ever considered unfriending someone on Facebook because of politics? Until yesterday, I hadn’t seriously considered it. Oh, I have hidden people’s updates from my newsfeed, but never severed a relationship there.

I cried when I clicked the “unfriend” button on my friend’s Facebook profile last evening. The venom finally got to a level that I did not feel comfortable allowing into my mind and emotions. Throughout this election year, I’ve struggled constantly. I truly enjoy having friends with a diverse representation of political views, faith, socio-economic levels, ethnic descent, interests and opinions. Someone I have always deeply respected posted a message, cussing and accusing and spewing her hate for a certain candidate, as a culmination of several weeks of heightening rhetoric. It doesn’t matter which candidate it was. It wouldn’t have mattered to me. She invited anyone who was offended to “go ahead and unfriend” her.

Was I offended? 

No. To be offended means that I give over a part of myself- of my serenity. I wasn’t personally offended. I was sad and upset that she felt so angry that she would give up relationships in order to publicly rant like that. People who know me realize that I enjoy a spirited debate on the issues and respect those that can articulate their views, even when they are different from mine. But when someone starts calling candidates a–holes and looks for every little thing that they can take out of context to beat that candidate’s supporters over their heads, I can’t go there with that person. I don’t want to go there. No matter which party the arrows fly toward.  I decided that I would not feel guilty for protecting my space from toxicity.

Do I still consider her a friend?

Yes, of course. I have many Facebook “friends” whom I wouldn’t consider close personal friends. Facebook for me is a community of friends, family, acquaintances, business contacts, colleagues, etc. I also have friends “in real life” with whom I’m not connected on Facebook. {GASP} In fact, some of them are not even ON Facebook. Believe it or not, I still consider them friends. This was not about our fundamental relationship, but about what content I let into my sphere of influence.

What is the real issue here?

This woman is obviously hurting. There is a deep wound which seems to be pricked by her perception of certain politicians, and what they might do if they get in office. It makes her angry and she is honest about it. I don’t fault her for that, and I do pray for that hurt place- for healing. I do fault the political operatives, pundits and news media who use such hyperbole and half-truths to bring people to a fever pitch of fear and frenzy in which nothing matters except destroying the “enemy.” We as a society have lost the ability to debate issues based on logic, and we can no longer trust any news media to present the entire story.

What about you?

How do you make decisions about whom to allow in your sphere of influence? How do you feel about the political climate this year? Do you feel that the veil of technology makes people say and do things that they wouldn’t do in person? Do you post about politics? Do you wish others wouldn’t?

I would not consider unfriending most people on Facebook because of an isolated political rant. Just be very careful when you posts statements like:

  • “Unfriend me if you don’t like this.”
  • “Anyone who watched Fox News can unfriend me now, because you are an idiot” (Yes, I have seen this in several incarnations from the enlightened ones)”
Be sure you really want to get what you wish for.


19 Thoughts to “Unfriend You”

  1. This was such an interesting read to me, Sarah. I’m sad for your friend who feels so angry that she does feel that need to basically shout at everyone to unfriend her if they don’t like it.

    I feel the same way you do about Facebook. Just because you’re my friend on Facebook doesn’t mean we’re BFFs, and likewise, I have a few people in real life who have held out from Facebook who are of course friends despite their lack of Facebook profile 😉 To me Facebook is a place to follow my friends but also connect with business contacts on a more personal level.

    Kudos to you for not allowing the toxicity to invade your own life.

    Personally, I will never post about politics – at least not the election – anywhere on Facebook. My friends’ stances are too diverse and I respect that everyone has their own opinion and no desire to have a debate about it on Facebook.

  2. Janine

    Interesting. I totally relate.
    Just last evening, I had to make a hard choice to unshare paths with someone (on Path!). Every once in a while, she gets ramped up and starts posting erotic artistic selfie pics. I respect her right to post them; I just don’t want to see them on my path. I told her my plans via another SM as there is no private messaging on Path.
    Sad, but such is life. My choices and my space deserve respect too.
    Does your friend know you unfriended her?

    1. I don’t think so Janine. I think I might wait until the anger subsides a little, and then address it.

  3. I had to unfriend two people a few months back for this same reason.
    Every update was about how one man was going to put uss all back in the 1800s, how certain believers were idiots and didn’t love anyone.
    Each person said unfriend if they sounded harsh so I did.
    They supported 2 different politicians but we can make a point, even have a friendly debate without hating everyone and then accusing everyone else of hate.

  4. Michael

    This was magnificent. I am so glad I stumbled across this. This happened to me as well, I had a dear friend from college who I was very close with, and had to unfriend because I was just plain offended by the political rants. It hurt a lot. Thank you for this and bringing perspective and calm to an atmosphere that so needs it.

    Oh, and you have a new Twitter follower because of this entry. (I mean me,,,)

  5. It’s a challenge to both surround yourself if differing points of view and avoid conflict. Even if the conflict is only in your mind and heart, it’s still painful to endure. I struggle with this too in many ways, especially when I’m fired up about something 🙂

    Do I look the devil, so to speak, in the face or only surround myself with like-minded folks? (And isn’t THAT what I am accusing that other person of doing.)

    Ultimately, you have to choose your own rules. I opt for a three exchange limit on social media– post, response, and acknowledgement and/or counter. Done.

  6. FishInFlorida

    unfortunately, this happens all too often. some folks get so wrapped up in issues that they become the dominating factor in SM relationships. the chic-fil-a business of last month is a prime example. so many have reached a point where anyone who disagrees with their position is somehow lessened because of it. while some handle it fine and don’t let it dictate their lives, many have decided that they can’t relate to someone who thinks this way or that way. they come to the point that the only way to deal with it is to assume that those others must be fools, idiots, haters, because they have a different opinion or belief. it’s just sad.

  7. David Sable

    Hey! I noticed we are no longer friends on Facebook. What happened?

    OK, joking aside… I learned this in the pre-Facebook days of message boarding. Posting can have the same characteristics of driving. In one sense, we are all together on the road. On the other sense we are all alone. This is why road rage easily pops up because those in another car cease to be human but just a piece of inanimate metal that is in my way. I would never say to someone in person, “hurry up, dumb ass. You’re making me late,” or, “You believe that bumper sticker? You selfish moron! I wish you would drive off that cliff.” Yet I let myself internalize that about a car in front of me.

    Social media makes it possible (though not necessary) to be conceptual “friends” without having any meaningful connection. As a result, I can treat those about me as objects or ideas and not real humans.

    On the one hand, I like social media because in our “big is better” world, it is often the only way I know about happenings in the lives of people I know (church socials and everyone pitching in to help with a member’s wedding is in many circles a thing of the past – at least it is in mine). On the other hand, I have to work hard to not forget there is a human on the other end of the wire.

  8. Excellent post. Rational discussion shouldn’t be so hard. But as soon as overwhelming emotions get in the way, two-way communication often shuts down. And that’s what it has to be: two-way. I have to listen to you, you have to listen to me. I have to let you talk, you have to let me talk. We don’t have to agree on anything, but we do have to respect each other. If anyone wants to live in a vacuum or hide from any and all feedback, then they shouldn’t rant in a public forum.

    Funny story: I once had a Facebook “friend” call me a “libtard,” “mentally retarded,” “f$*~ing stupid” and a “n^*^er lover” all in one comment. And he had the nerve to message me and ask why I unfriended him!

    1. Amy H.

      Such a good point about two way communication. Too often I feel like I’m not in a discussion but a pitch. IE the other person doesn’t really want to have a conversation, they want to convince me why what I believe and choose is wrong.

      I love being able to have a fantastic back and forth with someone I care about who just happens to have different ideas and beliefs than me. I love having a passionate exchange and walking away friends. (wait, that sounds like something completely different)

      Our pastor’s message this morning was about the dangers of labeling people and he framed it in the election discussion. I told him I had just read a wonderful message about that exact subject! Beautiful post Sarah!

  9. David C

    I too love a lively discussion. Too often facebook posts are more about establishing your position on a topic rather than opening a discussion. Too many of my “friends” post rhetoric from one sided sources. When challenged, (as I love a lively discussion) I’m often attacked with assumptions that have nothing to do with me or the way I feel or think. Here’s an idea, when you post something that may be “politically charged”, expect someone to disagree with you. Don’t respond with attacks or become overly defensive, (remember text can’t show inflection or emotion, so what you’re saying may be taken much more stern and harsh then you meant it to be) talk, listen, find common ground if you can, agree to disagree, and learn from your “friend”. You’ll be modeling how to participate in a healthy debate for our Sennett and Congress:)
    Miss you and your family Sarah

  10. Thanks for writing this Sara. This is an area I have been struggling with for the last several months now, not just on the political forefront but with the recent Chik-fil-a situation and all of the vitriole from that. I haven’t unfriended anyone yet but it has come very close to that, especially with the nit-picking and context trimming for someone to get the next zinger in or accusation of impropriety on either side. I commented at one point that I was so tired of all of them I would find it better to be on Mars with curiosity then to endure anymore of the political nonsense. I will still vote and be a part of the process otherwise that is a right we will lose. In the meantime I just see the junk, shake my head and wait to see if people tone down after November.

  11. Sarah Peppel

    Sarah – You hit the nail on the head – Don’t tell me to unfriend you if you don’t want me to do it! 😉

    And, I agree – my husband is heavily involved in local politics so it’s hard not to at least mention what we are doing but I hate ever bringing up issues that could draw the dividing lines. As always, you are a woman of grace.

  12. Politics, no, but I did just unfriend my ex-stepfather-in-law (oh 21st century famimlies!) for foul language and generally being irritating. He raised my husband, but that doesn’t mean I have to deal with it, right?

  13. Sarah, I had to de-friend a person about a month ago because it was really effecting the way I thought about her. She was putting quotes up all day long on what her husband thought about politics and our president. Even though we stood on the same side of politics I took great offense in how our President was being attacked by her.
    I still feel as Christians, (we both are believers) we still need to honor and respect the role that our president holds and pray for him daily. Our bible teaches us that. We have a right to disagree and vote against but we are to honor who God has allowed to be in authority.
    I hope I can communicate with her after the election is over via facebook but if not we will stay in touch other ways.

  14. I had to unfriend a person way before Facebook right after 9-11 when she started sending racist jokes to my Inbox. It was incredible disturbing and very disheartening to see the dysfunctional in people come out during times of extreme emotion. Although I am fallible, I really do try to think about whether a post I’m putting up is preachy or not as I enjoy the conversations about the hard topics the most. With that said I sometimes am jealous of people who feel free enough to be able to say what they really think on Facebook. I live in an area that is heavily dominated by people with different religious and political view points than my own and the repercussions of what could happen to my family is always foremost in my mind. It sometimes is very hard to live muted.

  15. alex trebak

    I get rid of all of them. I don’t want any political or religious influences in my life. Facebook is fun for me, those people make it, not fun. I don’t read the news, I don’t watch the news and I don’t care about anything that is not immediately affecting myself or my family. I haven’t always been like this. I use to be very outspoken. But it was making me an angry, unpleasant person. I had to let go. Now I’m happier and more focused (and richer because I’m focused) but what do they say…..”Ignorance is Bliss”. Oh, so you’re saying there is an election this year? lol

  16. Whatever the reason, sometimes you just need to unfriend someone. It’s easier than it seems.Facebook will show possible matches below the search box; either select the person as her name appears or continue typing until you have finished. Hit “Return.” This will take you to that person’s profile.

  17. I agree, completely. It’s gotten to be entirely too much lately, and I don’t need that anger in my day to day life.

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