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28 September 2013

So Is It Me? It's Me, Right? [More:] I just got into an argument with an old friend that I found online. Now if this only happened once, I'd consider it a push. But it has happened twice in as many weeks. In both cases I have completely different... (opinions?)(beliefs?) than the other person.


Person One- Staunch Republican Tea Party guy. For a while we were out of touch. Long story, not necessary here really. But we got back in touch. I say, "Okay. We can obviously not discuss politics AT ALL." He says sure. We have cordial discussions via email and phone for a while. Then he sends me a couple of racist Obama cartoons. I get angry and ask him essentially why he "broke the truce"? Angry emails ensue. I finally tell him that I don't have time for his shit. We're done.

Person Two- Creative guy. Someone that I have collaborated with in the past. Hardcore anti-vaxxer. Once again, spoke on the phone. Spent time online (okay, Facebook if you must know). He keeps posting blatant lies about vaccines. I calmly rebut each post. Facts, details. Links. He says to me tonight, in essence, If you are going to shit up my page with your bullshit, you can go fuck yourself.

Second friend down.

I'm obviously not communicating in a way that we can still stay friends. And it's not like I have so many friends that I can lose any. Help?
It's not you. Facebook lets you in on people's secrets. Sometimes you find out that people you like are secretly assholes.

I don't look at Facebook very often. I have a few friends' updates turned off, so I never see what toxic thoughts they share with other idiots. But I totally get what you're saying, I won't lower myself to argue with those dumb motherfuckers but it bugs me that I feel superior to them.

I'm really not so elitist. As a matter of fact, it pains me greatly to feel like people I know and trust are stupid or ignorant or merely misled. I'm not going to try to fight ignorance in people who are proud of it. So I'll lose touch with them, and I'll be better off.

The truth is, it just isn't worth being friends with someone who is willing to insult you over politics, or who can't have a civil discussion without popping off with bigotry, or who in some way doesn't meet your standard of decency or kindness, intelligence, taste, or whatever else is important to you.

Sure, it means that your circle of friends gets smaller. They can be replaced with new, more decent friends, or pets, or books, or hobbies. Whatever, sucky people suck.

With the racist Obama cartoon guy, you can be glad to be shot of him. Tea Partiers mind-meld with dogshit. The anti-vaxxer? That would be a deal-breaker with me, I'm not so tolerant and I'd be arguing with him all the time, our friendship wouldn't last.

But you could patch that somewhat by turning off Facebook updates from him, and then when he says, "Did you see that thing I posted?" if it's not about anti-vaxx stuff you can say, "No, I missed it, what happened?" But if he confirms that it was more anti-vaxx stuff you can say "Oh no, I don't read nonsense, if you want to shit up my ears with that bullshit, you can go fuck yourself." Because if he were actually bringing it from facebook to actually talk to you about it, knowing that you disagreed vehemently enough that he felt a warning was appropriate, you'd know he was just trying to wag his anti-vaxx dick in your face, and that's unfriendly.

Losing friends over things they believe is a lot better than losing friends over things they do. Mistakes happen all the time. Being an asshole is a way of life.
posted by Hugh Janus 28 September | 22:43
I agree with what Hugh Janus said.

I would only say that I try not to argue too much with people on their own Facebook pages; if someone's posting a bunch of shit I disagree with, I usually just hide or unfriend them. I will sometimes post a calm "Hey, here's something debunking what you're saying" the first time, but if they continue with it, I figure they're unlikely to change their mind and it's not worth my time on Facebook to keep reading their stuff.
posted by occhiblu 29 September | 00:05
And by "I would only say..." I meant, "I would only add..."
posted by occhiblu 29 September | 00:06
Earlier I was thinking this was a conversation I've had enough times in my life:

Person: I have this opinion based on nothing factual!
Me: Oh. Fact, fact, fact.
Person: I don't believe you.
Me: You can check.
Person: I'm not going to and I don't care! You are just trying to insult me/make me feel bad/think about stuff for myself!

or some slight variation. This is why I will no longer randomly strike up conversations in bars.

Part of it is a factor of age, I just don't have time to tolerate people when I don't have to any more. So-and-so is definitely more than naively bigoted at this point. Snip. So-and-so doesn't believe in science. Kick. So-and-so is not any more emotionally and socially developed in over a decade, so not growing out of it. Bye.

I use to have the widest variety of friends of anyone I've ever met. I guess I still do, but there's been high turn over and lots of pruning, so there's some things I know too well to bother with anymore. Some people come back. I dunno, they all seem to eventually come back periodically. This is why I don't use facebook or much of any type of this thing. I really have a hard enough time with people who bother to track me down. If people could find me just from the many schools I've been to-- the idea of guys carpetbombing every girl they ever met/saw/blank alone is staggering, and I already have new weirdos following me around because I accidentally made eye contact from a couple months ago when I was just being normal human nice.
Yesterday I was on my porch for the first time in months with a friend and people just gawked and honked at us.

I'm saying the world is filled with dirtbags, so make piles because occasional re-vetting is necessary. Past proximity doesn't cut it anymore. So-and-so is not having a moment/bad month/bad year, she's made a lifestyle choice. This is where we part ways.

I'm saying it's me, I'm saying it's you, I'm saying it's THEM. THEY LIVE.
posted by ethylene 29 September | 01:26
You didn't lose anything in cutting them out of your life.

My favorite was the woman who was convinced that aliens buried a black slab on the moon, and Neil Armstrong dug it up. Further, the Challenger did not really explode, but flew on to Jupiter for a rendezvous with the aliens.

No, the only Kubrick movie she ever saw was The Shining, and she was so mad at how he butchered Stephen King's book that she never saw another movie he made.

You can safely push these people aside.
posted by Ardiril 29 September | 02:07
Just because you happened to know these people in the past doesn't mean you'd choose to know them now.

I'm often surprised to find out how much my opinions and the opinions of others have diverged over the years.

You're fine in going without people who raise your rabble.
posted by mightshould 29 September | 03:38
The Facebook mute button is your friend. I have a bunch of "friends" on Facebook who's posts I've muted and never read because of all of their nutty posts about Obama and the ACA.
posted by octothorpe 29 September | 07:06
It's not just you. All this government madness is making us crazy!!!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 29 September | 07:44
I had a similar thing happen to me a few years ago. I reconnected with an old high-school friend. We had been really close, but college took us in different directions and we lost touch. Then, out of the blue, he calls me. As the call progressed, though, I began to sense that this guy had really changed. There was an underlying anger in his tone. Once he started in (Unprovoked. I never discuss politics. Period.) with the Limbaugh/Fox News talking points and constantly referring to Obama as "that clown in the White House" I knew there was no reconnecting. I've not followed-up with him since. He sent me a Facebook Friend request since then, and I've simply let it languish.
posted by Thorzdad 30 September | 08:16
Yeah, my brother's wife has some extreme political views (on the right), I'm afraid. When I was younger, I'd try to argue with her, but ultimately I just did what I could to avoid/ignore the controversial topics. Sometimes I think otherwise nice people use that poisonous hyperbole as a means to vent their frustrations and don't mean, or act in accordance with, the harsh things they say (every holiday, for instance, my sister-in-law takes in several people with various "issues" from the synagogue for dinner, and always invited her brother, despite his years of drug abuse -- she wasn't the cold, hardened person her words made her out to be). Of course, family's different than friends. It's easier, I guess, to cut friends out. Maybe try to weigh the person overall, if the friendship's worth it to you. After all, they're overlooking your "socialism and na´vetÚ." ; )

Unfortunately, I've found friends in my adulthood to be very unforgiving (not so when I was a kid -- we could fight and move on, closer than ever). But as an adult, one comment or joke they don't like, and they're gone, years of good times like they never happened. It's a tough standard for someone like me; I admittedly can have a sharp tongue and a very dark perspective. I have had some great friends who were there for a period of years and then weren't, mostly due to geography. But they meant a lot at the time. My father always said if you have one true friend in your life, you're doing well. Most are superficial, good-time buddies (and this was before the Internets). And he had a lot of friends, difficult man that he was. Most people, I'm afraid, aren't worth the effort. I'd rather watch TV. ; )

The vaccine thing is weird... Even amongst fellow teachers, I can't convince some of them they won't, in fact can't, get the flu from the flu vaccine. I think a strong belief in wrong information becomes a kind of self-convincing, self-reinforcing club, and they can't give up the wrong because they'd have to abandon their "peers," however mistaken. Stubborn, stubborn people. (My father would've called them ignorant.)

You can see why I don't have many friends.
posted by Pips 30 September | 09:02
A lot of the kids and adults I grew up with have become much more conservative over time. My trajectory has been the opposite. Where people have shown themselves to be open to discussion or alternate ideas on some issue, I have engaged and we've given each other things to thoughtfully consider, even though it hasn't usually resulted in a change of outlook. If they post over-the-top stuff on their page that shows up in my News Feed, show themselves to be incapable of/unwilling to respect my views, incapable of/unwilling to refrain from pejorative language/ad hominem, etc., they get three strikes. Then, for Facebook, it's block (uncheck Show in News Feed), double block (uncheck SiNF and Restricted List) or unfriend, depending on the nature of the relationship. I
posted by initapplette 30 September | 12:37
Thanks to all who replied. One thing that I've noticed is that the older I get the less I am able to suffer fools. I have even said as much to older "friends". I'll just right out tell them that I really don't have the time or the energy for bullshit. That is not to say that I am the final expert in anything. Just more like, I used to be a kid and I loved to debate for hours. Now if you have a belief that is obviously blatantly wrong I won't argue it. If I can take the time to "show my work" as it were then the least you can do is read it and show me yours.

And even that is too much. I guess I'm just an old codger who expects people to think instead of spout nonsense. Too much work these days it seems. And thus my circle of friends shrinks. And honestly, I could not care less.
posted by Splunge 30 September | 18:45
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