This week, the wife of a friend posted this article about how liberals are bigots and hypocrites because they unfriend people that don’t agree with them on issues such as Caitlyn Jenner, transgenderism, and assumedly other hot button liberal topics like Obama isn’t the devil, the Affordable Care Act is helpful and necessary, and women should have more rights than corporations. You see, the writer Christy Lee Parker, a conservative Christian wife, had recently experienced some discrimination and ostracism herself when she posted an article that called transgenderism a mental disorder. And she got damn tired of being called a bigot so she hauled out the old Merriam-Webster to show all those liberals how wrong and foolish they were. You see, guys, bigotry doesn’t mean being a conservative Christian like all us crazy liberals totally think. Actually, it just means intolerance towards those who hold different opinions than oneself so in reality just unfriending someone because of their differing viewpoint is bigotry. Ha hah, got ya now, liberals!
By and large, when someone has to resort to using a non-contextualized dictionary definition to prove their point, I ignore them immediately. Dictionary definitions are helpful for writing papers, but they are often sadly lacking in real, social-based conversations – especially those about such complicated topics as gender identity. But I love arguing with people on the Internet so here I go.
Now I can agree that some people unfriend indiscriminately and throw around the word “bigotry” like they’re paying for it by the hour. That can be annoying. It can also be stressful negotiating a relationship with someone who is constantly issuing ultimatums and flying off the handle. That’s true. I have also read articles that state that being around people of different opinions, backgrounds, etc. is important because it helps foster an exchange of ideas that can be useful or productive in the future. So, no, we don’t want to cut every single person out of our lives that has a differing viewpoint. I’m with you all of those points.
But now I’m going to disagree.
There is nothing wrong with unfriending someone because you have dramatically differing views, especially if the point of contention is important to at least one of you or is triggering to at least one of you. It is not intolerance or bigotry or prejudice to unfriend someone you don’t want to be friends with, someone who makes you uncomfortable, someone who floods your newsfeed with opinions you find offensive, someone who constantly derails your Facebook statuses with hate speech or off-topic information. And that goes both ways for liberals and conservatives. Thinking otherwise puts you at the mental maturity level of a kindergartner for whom someone not liking them is the end of the world.
People like Christy Lee Parker also need to understand that it’s important for everyone, not just beleaguered conservative Christian housewives, to stand up for and defend their principles. That’s usually what we’re doing when we’re unfriending someone (that or we just don’t feel like being friends with them anymore – shocking, I know). We are deciding that pacifying this person is no longer as important as supporting another person or another cause. We are putting all these issues and people in a hierarchy and deciding what is important to us.
And that is where the problem truly lies. Fuck being called a bigot or intolerant. Those words are irritants, nothing more, but the real issue is that your Facebook friend doesn’t think you’re more important than Caitlyn Jenner, Michael Brown, or Bernie Sanders and that offends you. You can’t believe they would do that to you, just discard you for a person you don’t even know, a person that you think doesn’t matter. How dare they treat you as disposable. Don’t they know who you are? Don’t they care about you?
But at the end of the day, we have to do what’s right for ourselves. Sometimes that means a gender reassignment surgery, other times it’s not reading dross from the Mad World News, but it can also be unfriending a person whose views on something have shocked, offended, and saddened you for the last time. And that’s fine. It really is. So get the fuck over it.
Click here for an excellent short form answer to this same topic.