I came across an argument between two friends yesterday, as I was hanging out in the backyard, drinking wine. One of my friends is a Trump supporter. The other, who until yesterday was friends with my Trump supporting friend, is a Biden supporter.
My Trump supporting friend, I’ll call Mary, had posted a negative opinion article about Joe Biden. It was up for awhile before the other friend, I’ll call Sherry, showed up and left what was initially a hesitant, yet respectful comment. Sherry basically wrote that while she generally respects Mary very much, she didn’t understand why Mary doesn’t support Mr. Biden. Sherry correctly pointed out that Trump has been accused of sexual assault by many women.
A rather testy exchange developed. I could see that the two women were starting to get angry with each other. Then Mary pointed out that under Obama, eleven missionaries contracted Ebola and had to be treated. Sherry, obviously flabbergasted that Mary would bring that up when so many people are dying of COVID-19, then asked Mary if she was a “fucking idiot”? Naturally, that really offended Mary, and she shut down the conversation. I can’t blame her for doing that, although personally, I agree with Sherry that the Ebola situation under Obama really pales in comparison to the disastrous way the coronavirus is being handled by Trump.
I’ve noticed that when these exchanges happen and someone gets unfriended on Facebook or blocked, the participants later kind of dust off their hands and say something along the lines of, “the trash just took itself out”. I do that myself, although there’s usually a small tinge of sorrow that I lost a “friend”, even if that person wasn’t really a friend. It just highlights how very fragile relationships have become in the age of social media and online communication.
This is just one very recent example of how people who used to be “friends” and or “loved ones” are being pulled apart by our heated politics. Some readers might recall I actually got blocked by someone last week after she started a fight on my page over Donald Trump. I wasn’t even the one who was taking her to task. And yes, after it happened and the person blocked me, I also quipped that the trash took itself out.
It’s a shame that relationships are so easily destroyed over something like politics. But we probably should know better since religion and politics, while often very interesting topics of discussion, are also the subjects one tends to avoid in polite company. That was always the advice given for cocktail parties. Never bring up religion or politics, because there will surely be a row. Of course, when people go to cocktail parties, they often drink. Tongues loosen and some things are said that shouldn’t be. I suppose it’s the same on Facebook, but the relationships are even more fragile because when you’re not looking at someone’s face and seeing their non verbal communication cues, you’re more likely to unload something you shouldn’t.
I don’t know Sherry as well as I know Mary, although I am “friends” with both. I “met” them both online on a messageboard for second wives and stepmothers. My observation about Sherry is that she’s very intelligent, but has a bit of a temper. Mary is older and seems very wise about a lot of things, but she also has a temper. Politically speaking, I align more with Sherry because I despise Trump and I’m pissed off at the Republican party for foisting his brand of craziness on the world. I’m pissed off enough that I don’t think I will ever vote red again.
But– I also agree with Mary that it’s not cool to go on other people’s Facebook pages, lose your temper, and cuss people out or call them names. I may not agree with Mary’s choice for a presidential candidate, but I know for a fact that she’s not a “fucking idiot”. I think it’s too bad that Sherry had to go there, even though I understand her frustration. I don’t know what all was involved in that exchange, other than exhaustion and stress over who is going to lead the United States come January 2021. But it’s a shame when people break up relationships over politics.
I myself lost a good friend– one I knew offline– over Mitt Romney back in 2008. At the time, I really was concerned about Romney winning the White House. In retrospect, I realize that he would have done a much better job than Trump has done. I still am not a Mitt fan, but I don’t think he’s as bad as I once did. And I’m sorry I lost a friendship over Mitt… although if I recall correctly, I was more pissed off by the disrespectful way my former friend was treating me than his political opinions. If he were to approach me today, I would be happy to speak to him. Sadly, I think the ship has sailed forever.
I don’t know how well Mary and Sherry knew each other offline. They live in different parts of the United States, so it’s likely that they only interacted virtually. I don’t know if they were ever close friends, although Sherry did start off by saying she “respected” Mary very much. It didn’t take long, though, before the respect went out the window and Sherry was asking Mary if she was a “fucking idiot”.
I really try to respect people’s rights to their own opinions. I may not always succeed in avoiding calling people out over these things, but in my heart, I do think people must have the right to make choices. It’s frustrating to see people I respect championing a man whom I personally think is very dangerous to democracy and the overall security of the world. It’s hard not to get angry sometimes when people keep trying to prop up Trump as being better than he is. But I also believe that everyone has different perspectives and they don’t generally form in a vacuum.
I will happily tell people why I dislike Donald Trump and would never vote for him. I just hope I never lose my temper and call a “friend” a name that debases them… This political season has been brutal. I’ve lost “friends” and “loved ones” to Trump’s politics. And I don’t know if I’ll ever get them back again. But maybe the ones who stick around are the ones I should pay more attention to, anyway.