i have recently been going through some facebook breakups with some people. not real life breakups (in most cases), just facebook breakups. some silently, some vocally, and some i am sure i don't even know about. in every case, it was because of political disagreements. this lead me to do a lot of thinking. i'll start with a little background.
i live in the same town i was born and grew up in. been here my whole life, with the exception of a year or two as a toddler in virginia. so, i have been here coming up on 39 years. because of this, i have many, many people i have met and befriended along the way that i still keep in touch with. and when i say i keep in touch with them, i mean i see their facebook posts occasionally, like most of us do. and every once in a while, i have the opportunity to see one or more of those friends in person, sometimes by chance at target or northwoods mall, sometimes by making plans to have dinner with them or whatever. i enjoy these planned/chance meetings. it allows me to reminisce with people i once shared part of my life with. i am a nostalgic person after all.
when i first joined facebook many years ago, it was a place to find old friends and family members that i hadn't seen or talked to in a long time. i started sending friend requests to all of my friends, friends of friends i had met before, or even just acquaintances. sometimes i sent requests to people that i remembered their names, but didn't recognize their faces 20 years later, so i had to look them up in old yearbooks to try to place them. it was kinda fun. i got rid of my address/phone book because i had a new and improved way to get in touch with people i knew. it was great. then, as time went on, facebook kind of changed for me. i am not saying it changed for better or for worse, but it did change. i have a theory, and maybe it is a fact, i don't really know, but i think it had to facebook's algorithm for what shows up in my feed. the more i "shared" things, "liked" and commented on certain posts, etc, items of similar topics began appearing with more frequency in my feed. the people that i interacted the most with were appearing more often. and i guess that makes sense.
i started paying attention to things that were happening in our country and the world. i started to get much more involved in politics and the political process. i have never been that interested in all of that. my wife would want to watch debates, or a state of the union address, or something similar and i would groan, and begrudgingly sit through it. i just wanted to live in my own little bubble. then one day something changed. i attribute it to us have kids, specifically two daughters. the older they got, the more i started paying attention to what was happening in US and local politics. i started voting. i started researching candidates. but i still did not arm myself with the knowledge to have an informed debate with anybody. all of that changed with events leading up to and including the US presidential election cycle. i became heavily involved in learning everything i could about gun control, planned parenthood, women's rights, LGBT rights... i knew my own thoughts and beliefs on all of these things, but i wanted to be informed to handle the undeniable fact that some of my "facebook friends" would try to debate these issues with me. i used to avoid these debates, and refrain from posting anything that might ruffle some feathers from a select group of people. as the days goes by, though, i have realized that i am censoring myself by not standing up for these beliefs.
all of this leads me to the main point of writing this. there are different categories of friends on facebook, some of which i outlined earlier, and will do so again here:
- real life friends/family - people i have met in real life that i consider friends (includes old and current people i currently call friends)
- social media friends - people i have met through some form of social media that have found their way to my facebook friends list
- acquaintances - people i briefly knew, friends of friends, etc
- work friends - people i have worked with at some point, and maybe see in the office occasionally
- random people - people that have sent friend requests and have a few mutuals in common
as an adult, it seems so damn silly that facebook has such a hold on our lives. but the fact of the matter is it has become how the majority of people communicate with the world. all of this rambling brings me to this point. if you don't like or agree with anything i post, feel free to speak up. if you are getting tired of seeing my posts, well tough. i don't tell you what and how often you can post, and i won't tolerate being told the same. i will not censor myself just because people do not agree with me. if you want to salvage our real life friendship, and seeing my facebook posts is making that hard for you, please do me a solid and "unfriend" me on facebook. and that is absolutely not to be taken negatively. i will not be upset. in fact, i will respect you for it. facebook (for me) has become a place where i can express my opinions (politically or otherwise), have good and respectful conversation/debates with like-minded and different minded people, have easy access to news/articles/funny shit. it is not a place that i intend to get into silly arguments with people. it is not a place where i will allow people to tell me what i can and can't post. it is not a place where i intend to lose real life friends, although there will most definitely be some casualties along the way. that's life.
but it most certainly is not a place where i will stop telling people to not vote for donald trump.