Welcome to Format Free Friday, when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Advice.
Yesterday I received a message from a friend on Facebook. It read:
“OMG, Darcy, did you see the ignorance that my [relative] wrote on my wall about gay marriage? I am embarrassed and I really hope I don't offend you and other friends that are happily married to a same sex partner! Do I defriend them, publically say something about it or just remove comment?”
OK – clearly I have an awesome friend, but that aside, I felt she raised a very important issue. It is, after all, Facebook, which for some is an invitation to share any thought or feeling they have about any topic. With that said, are our friends entitled to express their opinions on our walls, particularly if those opinions clearly differ from ours? And what if those opinions offend us – or our friends?
Ironically, the week before, I’d had a similar conversation with another friend of mine. She and her husband share a FB account and after I posted a Fox News video (when will I learn?), my friend (historically open-minded) suddenly blew my wall up with comments challenging me – I don’t even know what she was challenging – I didn’t really have an opinion when I shared the link – I just shared it because I thought it was interesting. Anyway, as you may have presumed, it was not my friend who confronted me on my wall, rather, her husband (who I do not know and have never met), and I guess that when her husband informed her that I responded with a curt “I’m not having a political debate on FB,” she emailed me to confirm that ‘respectful debate’ is something I’m OK with on my Facebook wall.
I am not OK with it. It’s my fucking wall. Yes, it’s Facebook and arguably a place where people should feel free to debate. Debate on your wall. Not on mine. Particularly when your political agenda has a greater effect on my daily life than on your own. But I digress.
Here’s my rule of thumb – take it or leave it: I have friends who span the political spectrum. I often see endorsements of candidates or agendas that I do not agree with – and I don’t challenge those friends on their wall. I may choose to share their link on my wall and share my thoughts – but I’m not doing it on their wall, I’m doing it on my own.
I don’t think most people who engage in ‘respectful debate’ have any understanding of why they so passionately hold their opinions - and I don't think most people have any sincere interest in understanding my perspective – it’s all about theirs. And I refuse to get sucked into the black hole of negativity that such ‘intelligent debate’ often provokes. There’s nothing intelligent about one person being right and another being wrong. It’s not inquisitive, it’s not sophisticated and it doesn’t cognitively stimulate me. It’s barely veiled hostility searching for an outlet. And I don’t want to be that artery.
I suggested to my first friend that she simply delete the homophobic remark from her wall. And I left the comments from my friend’s husband on my wall because they weren’t offensive, though I let her know that I don’t love being challenged on my wall – particularly when I don’t know who is challenging me.
So what do you think? Follow me on FB and feel free to share your thoughts – but only if they mirror mine ;)