Today I have unfriended a college friend from my Facebook page. She is a jolly, happy, fun-loving person who has a very nice life, with a kind husband, very involved in her Church, and with two children she adores and lots of cute grandchildren. She was so excited to find me on FB , and likes to share silly memes, and videos of cats. I feel terrible about doing this, my conscience is bothering me, since on most fronts our harmless shares were quite fun.
So why did I unfriend her? Because not only did she vote for Trump, she also began defending him. I had always assumed that she was just such a product of a patrician Republican upbringing that she blindly voted for him without really thinking about it much. I have repeatedly questioned her about how she could possibly think that this dangerously unhinged demagogue could do any good for anybody, and she has never given me any kind of response–just occasional comments about suffering under Obama and Pelosi (?!), no real evidence of a responsibly considered decision to support this man. Still, she hung on gamely through the morass of increasingly desperate and intemperate political shares that have overtaken my FB site, along with so many of us who are reeling in terror at what this man and his minions plan to destroy in the next few months (we hope not for years). But recently she began to express sentiments defending Bannon–BANNON!–attacking other people on my site with passive-aggressive statements and comments unsupported by any evidence or factual documentation. She didn’t seem to be fazed by any criticism directed at her, a fact that astounded me, as other Facebook friends presented her with article after article presenting facts, to which she would only respond with opinion with no concrete explanation of why she held her beliefs. I and other friends sincerely asked her to explain her stances, to provide details that could exonerate the man, to no avail. Finally, I just couldn’t bear it anymore–that someone I know, that someone who is educated and considers herself a good Christian, could simply dismiss all evidence that this man and his small cabal are in no way old-fashioned Republicans or Christians, but who are out to destroy everything that I and so many others consider the basis of American democracy. I know I have other Facebook friends who probably voted for Trump but who just ignore those political shares that they don’t agree with for the sake of being able to see photos of my grandson and my considerable number of contributions to the page on art and baby otters. But she decided to wade in to political discussions in a defensively unconsidered way.
For better or worse, this is what Facebook and other social media sites have become: a platform for political alignments. And yes, many of us begin to insulate ourselves from other opinions by only having friends who share our world views, and yes, we may all be losing our sense of humor. I don’t think I have done this completely, but the current situation is, to my mind, so dire, so unprecedented, so dystopian, that I simply cannot bear to be reminded that many good, well-meaning people cannot see the perilous direction that their own actions–that is, voting for this man–are causing to take place. I have said this before: we are at a turning point as disastrous as Germany in 1933, when many good, well-meaning people also could not believe that such tragedies were in store, even for them. There are those who would try to shame me for unfriending someone who feels that Facebook should be harmless and lighthearted, and I am truly saddened that the times require resistance and political activism rather than fun and frivolity. I will, of course, continue to put up my baby photos and comments on art and life, but Facebook is also the only platform I have to communicate common goals, and right now those goals involve saving the world as we know it from irreversible catastrophes. So sorry…..