Ever been shocked reading a friend’s political opinion on Facebook or Twitter? You’re not alone. This wild presidential season has led to a nationwide unfriending frenzy.
I learned recently that a woman with whom I had enjoyed singing Radiohead songs at karaoke read my satirical Donald Trump convention speech on my Facebook page. Beverly was outraged.
“Mike, how can you write such awful things about Trump?” she asked. “He’s a great man! Why are you so hateful?”
I wrote back, “Sorry Beverly, but I don’t think I’m the hateful one. Whatever one’s politics, I just can’t vote for anyone who mocks the disabled.”
I never heard back. Perhaps this made an impact?
It sure did. Beverly unfriended me.
I didn’t know Beverly very well — another Facebook “friend” who really wasn’t. But real friendships are ending over political differences, and that’s lousy.
A study by Israeli researcher and writer Nicholas John said, “We already know that Facebook and search engines provide us with a feed and results that are tailored to us. By unfriending, we are further contributing to the formation of echo chambers and filter bubbles.”
He’s right. Liberals and conservatives increasingly live in political isolation, hearing only what they want to hear from people who agree with them. Anyone with a different opinion is ignorant — or worse.
Shutting out people who don’t agree with your point of view is not only self-righteous and childish, but also hurts you in the long run.
I have friends whose politics are light years from mine. We respect and trust each other enough to know we can express ourselves without being judged. It gives me a different perspective, and makes me realize all the good people are not necessarily on my side of the political fence, and vice versa. So unless you’re dealing with a bigot or nut, keep the channels open. As British writer Evelyn B. Hall put it, “I do not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”
What’s that? Everyone knows that’s a quote from Voltaire? So you’re not going to read my dumb column anymore?
Wait, look it up! Hey, don’t unfriend me!
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.