As with most writers these days, especially the indies, I have a presence on Facebook. In fact a lot of people in general have a presence on Facebook, never mind being a writer. Facebook has become an online community square, where we see both the best and worst of people in our newsfeeds from day to day. I have over three hundred friends over there now, along with almost two thousand followers on my respective fan pages, and quite frankly, I really do enjoy it. At its best I get to know certain people in a way I probably never would have in real life. You can tell a lot about someone by the things they post and while I don’t agree with all of it, I let most of it slide by, and for the most part people are pretty decent.
I really only have a few rules that I follow for my usage there. For instance I have no tolerance for homophobia or racism. If you and I are friends and I see you share something cruel about gay people, we will no longer be friends. I won’t say anything to you about it, I won’t make a big fuss over it, I will simply hover my mouse over the spot that says, ‘unfriend’ and click it. We don’t need to talk anymore. In this day and age if you don’t have enough scruples to educate yourself on the subject we probably aren’t going to get along. I have followed this rule for years and have only used it a few times but when I did I didn’t even stop to think about it. Within seconds that person was off my newsfeed.
The same went for a friend I had who made a comment about rape victims, stating: “If someone rapes you and you don’t report them you are fucking stupid.” I didn’t say anything, I didn’t make a fuss, I simply hit the unfriend button and his ass went away. (Side note: this person was always someone who was going on about how much he hated and distrusted the police. Yet he was berating women for not going to them at the most vulnerable time in their life. Interesting huh?)
But something disturbing happened a couple of weeks ago though that made me question my unfriend rule. One of my friends was made a cruel remark about fat people. Apparently this person had the misfortune of sitting next to someone on the bus who was quite large and they were uncomfortable. Hey, no worries there. I can understand the frustration, I really can. But the kicker was that they then went on to call this person, who was a stranger to them, a ‘fat piece of shit’. The entire status was a tirade of insults.
I have to tell you, as a large person, I was angry. I let them know I was angry too and the person couldn’t understand why I’d take it personally. After all, “I never said anything about you directly.” If they had insulted gay people I don’t think they’d question why one of their gay friends would be insulted, but for some reason since these comments weren’t stated about me personally I was supposed to not take offense. Anyway things got out of hand really fast and it happened that they told me if I didn’t like their status I could not look at it, and I decided that they were right. And not wanting to risk the chance of seeing another hurtful status I then, on the spur of the moment, unfriended them.
I’m not sure if I was just following my ‘policy’ or if I just did it out of anger, but it didn’t feel good. Normally when someone says or does something stupid I can let them go (I let one go a couple of weeks ago that I did NOT feel bad about at all. And by let go I mean they unfriended me because I made a statement against violence. Buh-bye!) and not worry or think about them. But this one…this hurt. I cried.
This was somebody I have only known through the internet, but I knew them for a good ten years and in that time I got to consider them to be a pretty good friend. When I saw the status it shocked me. It was cruel beyond what was necessary, but granted, they may have just been venting. I’m not sure if I over reacted, or if they over reacted or if we both did.
What I do know is that a ten year friendship ended…and it didn’t feel good. It still doesn’t feel good and I don’t think it ever will. I’m not sure if I was right or wrong for doing it, but it’s done.
So while Facebook, and the internet in general, can be a great place to socialize and share ideas, it can also show you things about people that you don’t like…and then you have to decide how to react to that.
How about you guys? Have you ever unfriended someone for something they posted? Would you do it again? Leave a comment if you have.