I have an active Facebook presence, so it doesn’t surprise me when someone from my past sends me a “friend” request. What does surprise me, though, is how vitriolic some of these folks – who knew me In Real Life – can be when they discover that our politics are not simpatico and that in fact I can’t wait for the day when 45 is no longer stinking up the Oval Office.
I’m not talking about reasoned political discourse or spirited arguments among people who disagree.
I know I have Trump voters among my relatives and friends. I think some may have “unfriended” me, since I don’t see their posts anymore. With most of the others, it’s an unwritten rule that I don’t slam the president on their pages and they don’t extol him on mine. Occasionally we have to agree to disagree.
We have other things in common – long-time friendships, ties of blood, various fandoms and teams we support. I love these people, and I hope we’ll still be in each others’ lives long after the current occupant has left the White House.
I never wanted to unfriend anyone over politics. Not even the college classmate who had a disagreement with me over immigration and ended it with the hope that I not be murdered by an “illegal.” I thanked her for her good wishes and said I don’t want to be murdered by an American citizen, either, a fate which seems much more likely.
So when an old high school classmate sent me a friend request, I accepted it. We hadn’t seen each other since graduation, and we weren’t close friends in school, so I was surprised he even remembered me.
It soon became apparent that he was preaching the “Gospel According to Trump” and was making it his job to tell me and my friends how wrong we are.
I admonished him once, after he seemed about to defend the children’s concentration camps at the border. I told him I didn’t want to hear it. He accused me of being close-minded like all “far-left” liberals, and asked what about his freedom of speech. I told him to speak freely on his own page, but that I control what’s on mine.
He asked me not to unfriend him. He said he “valued” my opinion. He then went on a bizarre search and destroy mission. Virtually every post of mine was sure to have a counterpoint from him. Then he started calling out my friends by name to tell them how wrong they were.
It quickly got to a point where I dreaded looking at Facebook. What I’ve come to think of as a pleasurable way to stay in touch with people had now become an unwelcome space where my friends were under attack.
I ended it when he posted that he was going to take a short break, but would be back soon to “straighten out” our thinking. I said that if he tried it, he was gone. He said he didn’t take well to threats. I said I didn’t either, and that as it was obvious he didn’t really value my opinion, I was unfriending him.
That wasn’t quite the end of it.
Several days later, I got a “message request” from him. Curious as to whether it was some sort of apology, I looked at the message.
I should have known better. Like his hero, my old classmate was doubling down. He lambasted me for not caring for anyone else’s opinion, and called me a “pathetic person.”
That would have hurt when I was 16.
But I’m okay with it.
I laughed at it and deleted the message.