Why Can’t We Be Friends?

If there’s one topic I really don’t enjoy talking about, it’s the “P” word. Some of you who share my propensity for profanity may think you know the word I mean, but it’s not that, perverts.

Politics.

I hate talking about politics and hot-button topics with people. I feel like I have a responsibility to know at least a little bit about what’s going on in the world, or at least our country, so I do what I can to educate myself, and of course I form opinions about issues, but to actually discuss those opinions with others? I’d rather eat an entire cantaloupe (if you knew me, you’d know how grand a statement that is—I hate cantaloupe).

And I don’t just mean I don’t like talking politics with people who don’t agree with me. I don’t even care to talk politics with people who have the same slant as me, either. What I do find interesting, though, is hearing or reading other points of view from a distance. I’m not all one side or the other, and you never know what you might learn. Few subjects are (to me) completely black and white, aside from the fact that R.I.P.D. is a truly awful film, but I digress.

Why have you forsaken me, Jeff Bridges?

Why have you forsaken me, Jeff Bridges?

I mention all that to relay this: After years of reading a Facebook friend’s political posts (someone I know in real life, btw) that were mostly the polar opposite of my own views, I finally decided to comment on one. I thought maybe we could exchange viewpoints and just have a brief discussion about it. After two comments back and forth that were perfectly civil, some time went by and I noticed there was nothing from this person popping up in my newsfeed anymore (do you see where this is headed?). I decided to check their wall and discovered the person had blocked me. I was surprised, but I guess I shouldn’t have been.

I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. I guess I thought people could still discuss a topic without it affecting their relationship, however slight or casual that relationship may have been. I don’t necessarily tiptoe around social media trying not to offend, but I don’t deliberately try and set people off  by being some kind of repugnant troll, either. The last comment I made to the person who blocked me was along the lines of “maybe people on both sides should try talking to each other—maybe they could each learn something about the other.”

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Maybe they thought I was being sarcastic, or patronizing, or condescending. It makes me wonder what would happen if I talked about more hot-button issues with people. I know at least two of my longtime friends, going back over 25 years, have very different views than me on most topics, but I can’t imagine any of it being enough to end a friendship over. Maybe that’s just it—we became friends before we’d fully adopted the views we have. At the same time, we almost never talk about politics, either. When you meet someone new, does you view of them change once you learn their political leanings?

Is all of this something new? Surely not, right? Surely people have always been so sensitive about the issues? Am I naive to think people can have differences of opinion without ending friendships, or are my opinions not passionate enough that I would push someone away for thinking differently than I do?

I don’t know.

It just seems ironic that I decided after all this time to dare speak in opposition and immediately get blocked. And despite how it may sound reading this, I don’t really care (I’m not all butthurt, as the kids say). To paraphrase one Facebook friend who had something similar happen, getting blocked/unfriended by some people is sort of like the trash taking itself out for you.

All I know is I’ll probably go back to keeping my political views mostly to myself, however I will say this: If anyone wants to tell me they thought R.I.P.D. was a good movie, you can just go ahead and unfriend yourself. Relationship over. 🙂

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