Un-Friending

I really need to un-friend someone on Facebook, but I don’t want to ruin our relationship. We are bound by friends & family. Outside of Facebook we have always gotten along. I am moderately liberal, but my friend is extremely right-wing. For instance: Glorifies Beck & Fox News. Believes Obama is trying to destroy our country. Believes that Sandy Hook is a scam. I am not bothered overly by that. I mean, it irks me, but they have a right to their opinion.
It’s the Facebook posts and comments that are so crude: insults, name calling, being disrespectful (not directed at me specifically, but at everyone that doesn’t agree with him: i.e. stupid idiots, heads up their asses). I just want our relationship to revert to pre-Facebook status, but I don’t know how to go about it without being insulting & judgmental myself.
I’ve tried to not read the posts & removed him from my daily news-feed. It didn’t work. I’m drawn to his page & all it does is upset me.
So you see, I’m the problem!

Help,

Well, this is my first advice question relating to facebook etiquette! I’m excited. As you may know, awhile ago I quit Facebook completely for one full year due to basically the same thing you’re describing here. It was after the Giffords shooting in Arizona and I just couldn’t bear all the stupid things my stupid friends–and some of my smart friends’ stupid friends/family–were posting, and I couldn’t ignore it, and finally I was like, what is the point of this. Do I really wanna read some person’s dumbass father explaining how the Giffords shooting is Giffords’ fault for being too liberal? I finally quit after I found myself shaking with rage and composing a vast comment defending Matt Damon in response to somebody’s clearly-uneducated/super old weird dad. I had this flash of awareness, like, what is this that I’m doing? I don’t need to do this.

I quit for a year, and it was truly a great year. I think about doing it again, often, and would, were it not for the fact that facebook is the perfect venue for my particular brand of pithy humor (joke)

Anyway.

Un-friending! I think it depends on how up in his friends’ biz your friend is. You know? If someone un-friended me, I would straight-up not notice. It would have to be SUCH a close friend for me to ever even notice I wasn’t seeing them in my feed anymore or whatever. I never “go to someone’s page,” ever. I just look at the feed totally passively. I don’t even know how the feed works anymore, and I don’t know who can see my updates, etc. The whole thing is baffling. But so, yeah, if someone unfriended me I would not notice. I have no idea how many friends I have on there. Do you think this guy is like me? If so, un-friend away, you have nothing to worry about.

If your friend is the obsessed-with-”friends” type though he might notice and then it would get awkward I guess. However, if it did get awkward, you could always just say “I really like you in real life, and I value our differences, but on Facebook I find that sometimes your posts stress me out, because the format is not conducive to reasonable conversation. I’d rather just talk to you in person, is that okay?” and he will probably be like “I can understand that” unless they are legitimately a weird crazy person, which, no offense, but Sandy Hook is a scam? Just saying. Scam for what, like a credit card company? Like Obama planned it so he could make tepid half-assed comments about “doing something” about guns? Anyway, I think everything is a conspiracy, so I guess I shouldn’t talk.

It’s hard for me because I already have un-friended all of my vocal right-wing friends, with nary a thought for their feelings. They were mostly random people from high school, or some girl my brother used to know, or something. I have zero feelings of remorse or awkwardness about this. But in this situation, it sounds like you do like this guy and want to maintain some sort of actual relationship with him.

So that is what I would do. I would just un-friend him, hope he didn’t notice, and then if he did notice I’d say something really loving and gentle, and I’d also make it more about ME than about HIM. “I’ve just been getting so stressed out by Facebook, I think I just need it to be only funny cat videos and no politics, so I’m un-friending people who talk a lot about politics.” You know? Making it not specifically about him/his politics. You could even lie and say you un-friended a bunch of people who constantly posted about how the meat industry is the main contributor to global warming or whatever. Then be like “I guess it’s practice for when I inevitably quit Facebook altogether, ha ha,” and then hopefully the conversation can move on to other climes.

No shame!

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to guard one’s facebook life–one’s internet life–with some vigilance and to try to make it as much of a safe space as possible. Some people don’t feel that way, which is also fine. Some people really like the raw fucking internet, the in-your-face internet. They read the comments! Those people don’t mind encountering bonkers shit in their facebook feed. They love a fight, they’re ready to go. I feel like, I love a fight, but I want it to be in person, and amongst equals, and without 8,000 random strangers looking on and weighing in with weird un-helpful shit.

If you’re a lover, not a fighter, I say un-friend all the crazy gun-nuts and let god sort them out.

Additional advice: if you feel like you’ll un-friend him, and he might notice, but then instead of confronting you he’ll just get weird and emo and quiet, and that would be terrible, then you COULD email him to tell him you’re un-friending him. Say all the same stuff–oh, I just want FB to be cat videos, I don’t like seeing political stuff, I really prefer to talk about that stuff in person, I’m un-friending a bunch of people who like having political fights on facebook, it’s not personal, I’m just dramatically taking creative control of my facebook experience.

I think that’s the best you can do, and that it has good odds of working out. What do other people think? I might be overlooking something crucial, so let me know.

Good luck!

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3 Responses to Un-Friending

  1. Mike Merrill says:

    I just hide people from my feed. Works great!

  2. matt says:

    wait! i don’t think you are really answering this person’s question. it’s not as much as they are worried about the personal stuff as it is that they are ADDICTED

  3. matt says:

    wait! i don’t think you are really answering this person’s question. it’s not as much as they are worried about the personal stuff as it is that they are ADDICTED to looking at and interacting with this other person’s posts. I can totally relate to this as I used to be addicted to the comment sections on OregonLive.com and other news sites. I’d get into heated battles with people- i’d spend WAY too much time in there and get so worked up i couldn’t sleep. it’s weirdly addicting but also very unhealthy- I finally forced myself to stop and have been ‘comment free’ for several years. all i can say is that my life is MUCH BETTER since getting past this phase of my life.

    I think it is not a bad idea to get outside one’s bubble and expose yourself to the thoughts and ideas of “the other side,” but perhaps the better way to do that is to read opinion pages of respectable right-wingers and stay away from the online comment wars. Read David Brooks and George Will, and stay away from comment sections and online flame wars – no one ever wins those arguments, they just get madder at each other.

    (sorry for the weird double post)

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