Monday, August 9, 2010

Doesn't Make It Not Hurt

I don't want to break the rules of private discourse, but I need your help here. You being, I guess, the all-powerful, all-knowing Internet. This set of private messages is the result of a Facebook status/wall argument, which I decided, after a bit of soul-searching, to nip in the bud.

Title: just so you know...
I'm not defriending you because you hold a different political belief, I am defriending you because I just can't associate myself with a person who thinks that basic rights to live as equals in a society do not belong to every (non-criminal) person on the planet.

While I appreciate your candor, I'm not saying that at all. I've said multiple times that I simply don't care about the issue and didn't fully understand it. Now that I know a little more about it I feel it's a states' rights matter and not something the federal government should ever get involved in. But my different point of view doesn't really matter does it? I don't openly support or oppose it, therefore I have become the enemy. For someone who proudly proclaims that there should be equal treatment for all, it seems that my notions aren't even allowed equal consideration as valid. But that's alright, I still consider you to have been one of my friends.

It just makes me incredibly sad for you that you think staying neutral on something like this is worth defending. Yes, we were friends, but when it comes to gay rights I draw a line in the sand. You care or don't. You're with progress, or you're not. If you can't be bothered to worry about the feelings of people who just want to gain the rights of every straight married couple in this country, then I'm afraid I can't be bothered to worry about your feelings of being "equally considered." I hope you can find in your heart to care about the world around you, but until then I find it sad and unhealthy to associate myself with such ambivalence.

I just... am I wrong? Should I back down and be nice and preserve a friendship that (I feel) was largely past-tense anyway? Am I truly a hypocrite? Would I be more hypocritical if I didn't confront this person? Am I worrying about this way too much?

Facebook, for all its evils, is the reflection of myself that I want the world to see. The myself that has a message of love and support, not ambivalence. And having something like the things this person said on my public wall made me feel... dirty. And hypocritical. And a bit misrepresented. How could I be Facebook friends with a person who simply "doesn't care" about basic civil rights? I would almost rather this person be vehemently against gay marriage than ambivalent. Ambivalence is toxic, and contagious. And, I don't know, just not worth a Facebook friendship. It seems.


Cody G. said...

The way I view it, it doesn't matter if he doesn't have a say in the civil rights issue. I disagree with the whole "if you're not for it, you're against it" motto because not every hot button issue has a definite right or wrong side. Although I support gay marriage, I can understand the side of opposition, as well as the grey area.

For instance, I am neither for, nor against the death penalty. It's not because I don't care about it, it's simply because both sides hold valid points enough to keep me neutral. I.e. I don't care if it stays or goes. With topics such as gay marriage, you must understand that just because someone is on the opposing side, it doesn't make them evil, nor does it make them wrong. I have friends that oppose gay marriage and support abortion as birth control. Am I going to cut them out of my life? Of course not, because that would be ignorant and tyrannical.

The first step towards making a good argument is knowing your opposition, understanding their arguments and accepting the side they're on. Ultimately neither side is right until there is a general consensus, which rarely happens. But everyone in this world has their own set of beliefs, and you have to be able to accept that. Some will support an idea, some will be against an idea, and some just won't care either way. For all we know, he's not gay, and he doesn't know anyone who is, therefore he doesn't understand it, in which case why should he care?

Unfriend him for making outlandish comments about it. Unfriend him for taking things too far. Unfriend him for being ignorant. Unfriend him for telling others that they're wrong and he's right. But don't unfriend him because you disagree with him, because then you're basically saying "I'm right, you're wrong, and that's the end of it."

That being said, if you weren't really friends with him to begin with, then I wouldn't worry too much about it. If you feel you were in the wrong, then apologize and leave it at that. Leave it up to him if he wants to salvage the empty facebook friendship, depending if you yourself want to give it another shot.

Cody G. said...
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Cody G. said...
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Cody G. said...
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Ozkirbas said...

I try to refrain from commenting on personal drama. But, given that it's posted and the nature of this little blog...

Personally? I'm in Cody's camp. Ambivalence isn't inherently evil - unless it's willful. And, with that, a very specific kind of willful ambivalence. This particular person (of whom, for levity's sake, I will name Gorgonzola) very clearly may be dancing around what is a complex, political issue that you happen to care very much about. To you, it's clear cut - an issue of black and white. Current marriage laws maintain gay people as 2nd class citizens, are patently unfair, and effectively marginalize an entire group of people (a perspective of which I agree 100%). To Gorgonzola, he/she may see a group of conflicting moral and legal issues, and may remain unsure based on his/her personal life experiences and the limited scope from which he/she (read: we all) learns information.

Of course, everyone is a human being and every individual person isn't responsible for the lives and knowledge of everyone else. And you're certainly not responsible for sitting the person down and being his personal guru. But, if you're attempting to hold yourself out (or, more so, your facebook page) as a beacon of love and support of your gay friends - I assume (and correct me if I'm wrong) that you're doing so to be a positive influence on the world at endgame. It's interesting that it seems from this particular post that you have not considered, if you're to be this beacon of positive influence, that distancing yourself from the ambivalent, unsure, apathetic, or opposing people may actually make the world worse? That your positive influence could potentially help bring them around as well? You don't even have to argue with them, just the exposure to your enthusiasm and support can help - especially if this person created very little (if any) social obligations in general.

But, then again, maybe this person left such a blemish on your internet page that you can't bear and condone it. Maybe this idea would be a burden. Maybe you didn't have so much invested in the friendship to begin with - particularly if a facebook defriending is all it takes. It's really not my place to say. There clearly could be other things at play here that I don't see. But, aside from that... I wonder if you've chosen this course simply because you dislike a perspective and are frustrated with attempting to understand it yourself.

Ozkirbas said...
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David Pratt said...

I keep plenty of friends on Facebook that I disagree with, sometimes vehemently, on many issues. Mostly because I want to be exposed to those other viewpoints - just because I think something is right doesn't make it so, and I find it can be greatly beneficial to have differing opinions surround me.

Ambivalence, on the other hand, the lack of an opinion, is not something I would necessarily call "evil," but it does give way to evil. Not through any act of its own (as it is the lack of action) but by not taking a stand against the actions those who do care enough to do something about it might perform. This is a huge problem with voting, specifically in school board and city council elections. People don't think an issue affects them, so they have no reason to muster up any effort.

To those people, I would ask - what will you do when the so-called "moral" pendulum of the nation swings towards disapproval of marriage between people with different races? Or religions? Or nationalities?

Is it worth defriending someone on Facebook? I suppose that's a personal matter and you seem to think it is. I can surmise that you weren't really much more than Facebook friends in the first place.

B.Graham said...

@Ozkirbas and Cody - on any other issue I absolutely agree with you. Ambivalence does not mean evil, etc. etc. But when it comes to civil rights and treating people equally under the law, like I said to this person, I draw a line in the sand. This issue, to me, is black and white. And the more I think about it, the more I feel I did the right thing for me. And after all, my FB page is all about me, isn't it?

B.Graham said...

@David and Ozkirbas - You make good points about opening my world to people who disagree with me, and I think my range of friends and aquaintances includes most types. But, and this is new information, I was also more than a little offended that this person posted on my wall the equivalent of "it's your job to make me care about this issue," knowing that they would cause an internet ruckus. Especially when the specific information this person requested took me about two seconds to Google. They were being "willfully ambivalent," and it, frankly, pissed me off.

So maybe my facebook self shows a little more love than I personally possess.

Dennis said...

"In Germany, the Nazis first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn't speak up because I was a protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me."

-Martin Niemoeller

I think of that quote any time I hear someone who is indifferent to civil or human rights issues that don't affect them.

ali d said...

Most of this has been said already, but I'm going to say it in my own words because it's what I think and I want it out there. I think there are different types of ambivalences in play here, and they require entirely different reactions.

One is the kind of ambivalence that Cody discussed - the kind in which you've weighed options and opinions and sides and have decided that there are valid arguments for both POVs, and thus that you are choosing neither. You have done your research on the issue and don't think there necessarily is a 'right' answer. That's fair and respectable.

The second ambivalence is the one with which I have a problem - just not caring enough to even find out what people are talking about. It seems this chap falls into this second camp. The camp that decides that if it has no direct bearing on his life, he doesn't have to mete out the brain cells to even know what argument is being made. And there I do agree with you. I believe that we, as Americans, have a duty to understand the major political issues that face our country, even if they don't effect us personally. From his comments, he obviously was aware of its existence as an issue, and he made the choice to not look into any knowledge that, as you said, would have taken him 2 seconds to google. That is a very dangerous kind of ignorance indeed.

That being said, I don't think I'd ever defriend someone because I disagreed with their stance on an issue. It's their God-given right to hold that opinion, just like it's my right to get pissed off about it. (See David's Dr. Laura post) But like David said, that's really a personal decision you have to make for yourself. Why fret about it (the act of defriending, not the equal rights issue at hand) if you didn't really feel like an actual friendship still existed there anymore?