“If You Don’t Agree, Unfriend Me”

I’ve heard sentences of the form “If you [don’t agree with the blindingly-obvious point that I just made], unfriend me” a lot lately. And while I sympathize with the sentiment, I have to disagree with the tactic.

The message is, if you can’t even agree that women should control their bodies / gay people should have as much of a right to marry as straight people / evolution and climate change are real / Obama is not a literal devil / whatever, then you and I have nothing to discuss because we can’t even agree on the basics; and also, you’re probably morally-deficient, so you might as well fuck off.

All of which is, unfortunately true. There are lots of morally-deficient people out there who’ll never see reason. Everyone’s favorite whipping boy stereotype Your Racist Uncle (YRU), springs to mind.

My only qualm is that if YRU unfriends you, then he won’t see your posts/tweets/stories/chats and will have one less opportunity to change his mind. Likewise, if you unfriend him, then yeah, his racist memes / hate-filled screeds / religious reposts won’t raise your blood pressure on a daily basis, but you also won’t know what he’s reading, saying, or doing.

The US is currently as divided as it’s ever been, as far back as I can remember. And part of the problem is that we don’t know each other, don’t watch the same news outlets, don’t start with the same basic assumptions. We live in separate bubbles, so not talking to each other seems like it can only exacerbate the problem, and dig a moat between the bubbles.

I’m not saying you have to agree with YRU, or respond to everything he says. But if you can keep him in your timeline, even if you never respond to him, then at least you can keep an eye on him. Call it reconnaissance if you like, keeping an eye on the opposition. The next time someone at your local Demo-Liberal Hippie-Love Eco-Tea-and-Greet suggests that the way to fix the country is a drum circle in front of the local GOP headquarters, at least you’ll be able to think, “What Would My Racist Uncle Do?” and be able to critique the idea effectively.

And if nothing else, maybe you can agree to keep the political discussions on Facebook, and not bring them to the Thanksgiving dinner table, so you can enjoy dinner en famille.

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