Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why Can't We Be Friends?

When the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial came down Saturday night, there was an immediate and impassioned reaction among my Facebook friends.  Some of my friends were outraged at the verdict, appalled by the Florida "stand your ground" law in general, and decried the entire justice system as racist. Other friends expressed sympathy for Zimmerman and argued he should not have been tried in the first place.  It doesn't surprise me that my friends could have completely contradictory perspectives.  I've seen similar differences in opinion over Paula Deen, elections and a host of other hot topics.  As long as people have brains and opinions, I expect them to vehemently disagree.   

What did surprise me was when a friend announced that anyone not in line with her particular stance was going to be "unfriended" on Facebook.  Is it really so terrible to have dialogue with people you disagree with?  How do we learn other perspectives if we refuse to listen to the people who have them?  As the years have passed, Hubs and I have grown further apart on some political and social issues but we don't stop talking about things.  I just accept his wrongness and hope my rightness rubs off (ha!).

I acknowledge there are some positions that are so offensive to me, I would not maintain a friendship with someone who held those views.  For example, if you support pedophilia, don't bother sending a friend request.  Other issues are a little less clear cut.  Where do we draw the line?  If someone has a less "evolved" viewpoint than you do, are they someone who can learn from you?  Or are they such a raving loon you can't associate with them?  Perhaps my friend was referring specifically to people expressing views she found reprehensible, but it wasn't entirely clear.  Don't get me wrong; I have embraced the joys of hiding people from my news feed.  However, I hide people because I get tired of reading what they are doing every half hour or because they post a selfie that looks exactly like the selfie they posted yesterday.  I haven't yet actually unfriended someone.  Would you unfriend someone who had vastly different political/religious/social views?  When would you unfriend someone?

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