Sunday, April 24, 2016
Unfriending a friend
One of the things that social media sites allow you to do is to argue without human contact. One sometimes feels freer to argue in a much more aggressive, even hostile, way than one might were one sitting with the opponent.
It's bad enough when that happens with anyone. But it's even worse when the other person is a friend.
I faced that situation recently on Facebook.
I post about controversial topics. I get into dialogues about them all the time. And some of my friends and I disagree regularly. But that's okay - as it's done in a respectful way. I think in particular of two friends with whom I spar often. Even as we verbally fence we joke, admit when the opponent has a good point, even acknowledge we were mistaken at times. Those debates come on top of a long series of friendly interactions. We know we like each other, and can argue like friends.
But I have another friend who argues in a consistently aggressive, dismissive, critical way. He never backs down, never acknowledges good points, has no sense of humor during the exchanges. One tactic he uses is constantly shifting the subject: you respond to one point he makes, and he immediately redefines it and goes off in a new direction. My "favorite" was when he used a word incorrectly a few weeks back - a word that was insulting and was directed at me as part of yet another critical comment about something I'd posted. When I pointed out that the word did not fit, he gave a new definition for the word - one I could find in no dictionary. When I cited the standard definition, he sidestepped the issue (as it would have weakened his argument) and went off on a tangent that included more thinly veiled insults.
This all comes on top of the fact that he rarely posts or comments on anything lighter. No jokes. No friendly chat. No jovial sharing. No celebrating life's happier moments. It's almost always some snide or critical comment. Not what one would expect from a friend.
He did it again yesterday.
I had complained before, but he persisted. So last night I decided it's not worth it. I unfriended him.
I know, not very Franciscan. But engaging in dialogue with him was often a temptation to be uncharitable. It often brought out a less pleasant side of me with which I constantly struggle.
Oh, if he ever wandered back this way - he moved out of state several years ago, so our only contact now is by mail or social media - I would welcome him into my home. But social media is not a healthy place for us to interact.
Pax et bonum