Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The joys of being unfriended

I discovered yesterday that another of the wingnut sort-of relatives on my Facebook "friends" list had unfriended me.  No doubt he's sure  he's conveyed the ultimate insult, while all I can think is thank you, thank you, thank you.  No more lunatic spam generated by what the S.O. refers to as the Government-Hating Circle-Jerk Echo Chamber. No more recycled weirdness that's been repeatedly debunked on Snopes.com. No more photos of the beach at Santa Monica being used to illustrate claims the ACLU is trying to ban crosses in military cemeteries.  No more disgusting racist photos of urinal cakes decorated with Obama's face or screeds about how dumb Michelle Obama is compared to past first ladies. In short, being unfriended was a gift. It means a noticeable reduction in the amount in the In Box of noxious and/or mindless e-mails packed full of recycled crap that's been passed on by cranks and lunatics since the invention of crayons.

There is a certain amount of sadness, of course, in saying farewell to this "friend."  This particular person is someone I've known since childhood and who I used to consider an actual friend, not just a virtual one.  Back in the '70s we enjoyed some lively conversations -- he was sane then. He used to be a nice guy.  Now he's a mean-spirited bigot.  I'm not sure what sent him down Wingnut Road -- rebellion against his father, who is a lifelong skeptic and Roosevelt Democrat?  Too many years in the military?  Marriage to his second wife, a woman whose family are diehard conservatives?  Whatever it was, he slid over the line into being a closed-minded bigot who spouts racist bilge, tells vile misogynistic jokes, rants against the government and socialism (despite the fact the only secure job he ever had was his Navy career, his current income is a government pension, and he's looking forward to getting on Medicare), and does a lot of Bible-thumping about God's love.  It's a bizarre combination. 

A few days ago Gin and Tacos had a great post up about confronting people when they say something truly stupid or delusional.  You know, when something particularly brain dead comes tripping off someone's tongue, the listener needs to call that person on it, to ask one simple question:  "What the hell is wrong with you?"  It generated a good discussion thread, but a number of commenters mentioned the same thing -- what happens when you ask the question and the person doesn't hear it?  He or she just keeps right on spouting their delusional nonsense.  How many times can anyone try to get someone to engage in an actual dialogue instead of just spouting pre-canned sound bites they've memorized from Beck or Limbaugh or Hannity before a rational person walks away?  Is it possible to have a conversation when there's a wall of deliberate, willful ignorance standing in the way?

This is the second right-wing "friend" who's decided to turn tail and run (unfriending me) instead of trying to engage in an actual dialogue. The first one freaked out and accused me of calling him stupid when I asked him to explain precisely why he cared about New York city zoning and land use issues when he lived in West Virginia. Guess he realized I wasn't really accusing him of ignorance or stupidity -- I was calling him out on his racism.

7 comments:

  1. one of my cousins wives said she didn't think she could be my friend on facebook because I didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus. My reply? how Christian of you...
    I had one cousin unfriend me and then guilt or something made him ask to be my friend again..I was sooo tempted to tell him to fuck off..but was a good pagan and said sure..sigh*

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  2. The first one freaked out and accused me of calling him stupid....

    Oh hell, I cut right to the front and tell others they are fucking idiots, I can't shed one though, she is like an EverReady battery.

    I don't do Facebook but I love the video your hubby put on his blog. There will be a link to it on my post in the morning.

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  3. You can't reason with unreasonable people.

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  4. I have this issue nearly every day on our local newspaper's comments section. I'm trying so hard to come up with rational, nonconfrontational comments to draw people out and hopefully help them see the illogic in their arguments.

    I've found that I accomplish nothing whatsoever when I take a more confrontational approach. There are some folks that just won't accept reason, though.

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  5. Casey, I do the same thing - try to draw people out and get them to explain their reasoning in hopes of having an actual dialogue - but there are some folks who view anything other than total agreement with them as being confrontational. Some days all you can do is walk away.

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  6. Mostly I just walk away now. I don't hide my politics, but I don't put them on Facebook either. I'm done trying to "discuss."

    Twitter is my political echo chamber.

    I do wonder what happens to people to make them swing from one side of the political spectrum to another.

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  7. There's an easier way than 'unfriending' someone to not see their wacko postings. Move your cursor to the right side of their post and an 'x' appears on the same 'line' as their name. Click and choose to hide the post or all posts from said wacko. Also handy for not wading thru the teenage angst of younger relatives without hurting their tender feelings.
    -Momkat

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My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.