I made that mistake this morning.
Maybe no good can come from 1:00 am Facebook.
Anyway, I scroll down the handful of posts that were new in my feed and see this picture (Warning: I found the following picture really offensive, obviously, so there's a chance you will, too.) I'm sharing it not because I think that it needs more exposure in the cyber world, but because I don't think that ignoring damaging and oppressive ideas makes them go away. When people share offensive and damaging pictures as "jokes," sometimes the only way to talk about them constructively involves spreading them, but to an audience that isn't likely to tolerate that kind of bullying and in a way that demonstrates the problems. It's the same reason that everyone has to repeat Todd Akin's ridiculous statement or Daniel Tosh's horrible rape joke. We don't repeat it because we think it's an idea worth sharing; we repeat it because we're afraid of who might share it if we don't.
And with that, I did my first ever content-related de-friending.
I'm not telling you that because I'm up on some high horse about how righteous I am in taking a stand through hitting one button online. I'm telling you because I'm actually quite conflicted about it.
I share most of my blog posts through Facebook, and I would venture to guess that I occasionally step on some toes. I don't pay attention to my friend counts, so I have no idea if people are de-friending me over my "radical feminist" views, but they probably are.
But I've had a policy of not de-friending people just because I disagree with them. I've seen offensive posts (some from this same person) and have shrugged them off. I've seen problematic posts and written about them, either on this blog or in the comments on the picture itself. And--especially during an election year--I've seen politically-minded posts that are enough to drive a liberal-leaning person like myself up a wall (as I'd imagine my conservative-leaning friends feel about some of my posts).
But I don't de-friend. I'm a firm believer in not creating echo chambers. I think it's really, really important to hear ideas that are different from your own, if for no other reason than that having to defend (if even just in your own head) your own stance makes your arguments stronger. I have figured out what I believe about the world by testing those beliefs agains things I don't believe. And, often, hearing other ideas has changed my perspective, made me think about something in a new way, and sometimes even changed my mind. I can't do that if I don't see anyone who disagrees with me.
So maybe I was wrong to de-friend over this picture. And maybe I take myself "too serious."
But I see people bullied, abused, and disrespected every single day: in real life, in the news, through their own stories. I just can't handle opening up my Facebook feed in the middle of the night and seeing something like this. It has no value in an argumentative sense. It doesn't make me question anything other than my faith in humanity, and it--frankly--just makes me sad.
Maybe you could say that getting sad is important so that we can stand up to those people and make them question their own decisions. But I only have so many fights in me.
Have you ever de-friended someone over the content they post? Do you think you made the right decision? Have you been de-friended? Do you think they made the right decision?