The Unfriendables


I know, I know—we all live in the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!” era. I know.

Ain’t nobody got time for someone who’s full of bigotry, hate, and misdirected (in our opinion) rage. Ain’t nobody going to blame you for kicking that kind of negativity to the curb. Ain’t nobody going to say you have to keep enemies (and/or frenemies) around to consume your life or that you must continue to give them access to yourself.

You get to decide for yourself who is unfriendable.

It’s easy to dismiss an act of unfriending because it’s cool to minimize the significance of social networking. We don’t want social networking to mean as much as it does. On the surface it’s superficial; it’s impersonal; it’s too often a façade. On top of all that, it binds the most intimate aspect of human nature—our relationships—to technology in a way that instinctually seems unnatural. We can feel it in our gut. Social networking is a bunch of technobullshit.

Except it’s not. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It is, but it’s also not.

See, that’s one thing about being a mature adult: the ability to simultaneously hold conflicting, contradicting truths in our mind. Being a mature adult means possessing the ability to perceive on multiple levels from differing perspectives using divergent approaches. Being a mature adult means understanding that shit ain’t just complicated, shit is complicated and multifaceted.

For instance, take this common platitude: “There are no absolutes.”

Right on! Hell yeah! Totally correct! There are so many instances in which there simply are no absolutes. Righteous!

Except, merely uttering the concept that there are no absolutes creates an absolute wherein there are no absolutes.

Same goes for relativity. If everything is relative then relativity isn’t relative, so not everything is relative because relativity isn’t relative.

Whoa, paradoxical man.

I mean, I’m not suggesting this is some mind-blowingly profound phenomenon. Anyone who went to college or sat around smoking a bunch of weed or eating too much acid can just as easily come to these realizations. What I am suggesting is that this phenomenon is applicable to every single aspect of human life, especially the most intimate aspect—our relationships.

So, while social networking is a bunch of technobullshit, it’s also not. While unfriending can be rather harmless and meaningless, that’s not always the case. There are some intentions and implications to consider.

We can—but shouldn’t—insulate ourselves from differing ideologies. It stagnates us and it’s unhealthy. It’s also unproductive. If our goal is to educate each other, lead one another, grow together, then isolating from folks who have differing ideologies is hypocritical at best.

We can—and should—differentiate between instances where were are removing someone toxic from our life (online or offline) from instances when someone is being annoying, abrasive, confrontational, provocative, trolling, or simply rubbing us the wrong way.

I have a family member who uses unfriending as a petty, passive-aggressive indicator that they are displeased with someone. I mean, come on. Really?

I have friends who state a certain position and then goad people into unfriending them if they believe differently.

Recently I have friends who go on unfriending rampages because things are currently so heated that it’s bringing out the worst in many of us, laying bare our core differences, and magnifying those differences in atypical extremes.

We’re all guilty of unfriendings. I unfriended someone because they were an NRA nut. Not because they were stridently or unrepentantly pro-gun but because they simply wouldn’t shut up about it. Like at all. Ever. Guns, guns, guns. Oh and hey did I mention guns? (Guns anyone?) By the way, guns.

(I on the other hand do not bring up Nina Simone too often nor does it ever get annoying. That’s different. That’s because I’m me and I’m damn wonderful.)

Believe it or not, I even have friends who hold pretty racist views. I don’t think they are evil, despicable human beings, but I do believe their views belie a racist viewpoint of which they are often unaware. Still, despite how passionate I am about issues involving race and equality, it does no good to simply excise them from my life, as if they are meaningless or hold no value at all as a human being.

Don’t get me wrong, if they were spewing racial epithets nonstop, that would be another thing. Not only must we differentiate the hateful lost causes from those who are somewhat well meaning, but we must also take the time to do so. Because, despite how badly we want it to be true, social networking isn’t entirely a bunch of technobullshit.

When I think back to the most intense, dynamic interactions I’ve had via social networking, they weren’t with likeminded individuals. Engaging with differing world views not only causes us to rethink ourselves and evolve, it also forces us to articulate. The more we articulate, the better we get at it.

Don’t you wanna speak real good and stuff? Don’t you?

Take pause before you unfriend. Ask yourself why you’re doing it. Think about the purpose and the outcome. Ask yourself if you’d get up from a table and leave mid-conversation, without saying another word or ever acknowledging that person’s existence again.

If they are a person you actually know in the flesh, ask yourself if they are worthy of continuing to leave and breathe amongst the rest of us superior beings of goodness and light. If they are, ask yourself if—as a human being you know and cared about at some point in time—they will ever again be deserving of your time and energy. If not, by all means, unfriend their ass.

If, by chance, there could be something of value within them despite your differences, ask yourself if there’s any possibility you might be being a petty, intolerant, vindictive little fuck. If that’s the case then perhaps you need a little refresher on your “being a decent human being” skills. I mean, we all get to that point sometimes, and maybe right now it’s your turn.

You do get to decide for yourself who is unfriendable.
Just try not to be too flippant with that shit.
Think before you unfriend.

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