Facebook & Friendship

IMG_1767A couple of months ago I shared that while I might hide someone’s posts from my feed, I would not unfriend anyone due to political differences. I would however, unfriend someone whose posts were derogatory towards anyone.

I’ve seen some shocking posts from friends as I’m sure they have seen shocking posts from me. But I only had to hide one person from my feed. I didn’t unfriend the person because I genuinely love them despite our differences. And it wasn’t just political rants that inspired me to hide their mostly negative posts.

I admit I’m grateful when someone who wants to argue rather than dialog, belittle rather than support, or cry victim when all else fails, makes the choice to no longer interact with me on social media. For some it’s sheer relief that they no longer want to interact. For some it’s a combination of relief and sadness.

Our current political environment is probably not much different than it’s ever been to the degree that information was available in the written word and now it is available in digital and real time format. In this technological age, the past can be manipulated to manipulate the present to ensure manipulation of the future. And all “sides” use manipulation – as they always have – to achieve their goals.

One huge difference between social media and socializing is that now the remarks made to those who agree with us – the remarks we would never make in front of those we love but don’t agree with us – are seen by everyone. There is no hiding behind the keyboard to those who know us well. For the wise among us, we scroll right past them or hide them from our feed. We observe our own feelings, thoughts, and judgments and we use FB as a means to connect with our heart, even if that means coming face to face with our own pain and suffering. We use mindfulness of right speech before every posts and while we surely lose our perspective at times and find ourselves doing exactly what we accuse those who offend us of doing, we know – really know – that our reactions are of our own making.

I thank those who have given me the opportunity to sit with my thoughts and feelings. I’ve backed down just a little on the political posts the last few days because I realized that with every “OMG this will be the last nail in her coffin” that I just could not wrap my head around, the poster probably feels the same way when I post about the last nail in his coffin. The thing is, we both believe we are absolutely right. We both believe that America will go to hell if the other one wins. We are both so fearful and so attached to our point of view that we can’t even say “Thank you” “I forgive you” or “I love you” for fear that those sentiments will be misunderstood as supporting the wrong point of view. I see this among all Americans, not just those whom we fit neatly into a political box. In fact, as human beings I would say this is a challenge for us all and not just during a political season but for every season.

We live in an imperfect democracy where the majority sometimes and I believe mostly, win. We have a government structure in place that few people really understand and that sometimes goes against an intuitive feel. Whatever happens in three weeks will give us an opportunity to consider who we want to be as individuals. Whether our individual candidate wins or loses, we will experience intense emotions. And how we respond to those emotions will show us where we as individuals have room to grow – the choice is ours – do we nurture loving kindness or anger? Do we hold a safe place for our family and friends or do we turn them out? And no, I’m not talking about those who cause us real harm. But even they give us an opportunity to inquire and investigate our own experience and thoughts, even if we must hold them at a distance.

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