May 16th, 2020


the fine art of unfriending

I have a "friend"... let's call him Chris. Marc's known him since high school and worked with his wife, who is very cool. We went to their wedding, and they went to ours. We had kids around the same time. They have family in town, so we weren't monthly hangout friends, but they were 2-3 times a year hangout friends. We support some of the same health-related charities, parent similarly, and have nice conversations, and see each other at some big annual events we enjoy.

Chris has always been a little right of center on the political spectrum though. I don't know his whole voting record but on some issues, he was different than me. In 2016 there was a terrible shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida. Nearly 50 people died. It was horrible. Chris took to facebook the next week to tell us all he really wanted to get his hands on some big assault rifles and ammunition clips before they were illegal. I was disgusted. I'm not totally anti-gun, but I am pro-sensitivity, and anti-asshole. And I am definitely pro-"let's take a step back, maybe we DO need controls in place and should slow down on arming EVERYONE?" I thought his priorities were out of whack and I did not need that kind of person in my circle. I unfriended him on facebook.

Now it's 2020 and there's this pandemic, and Marc is still friends with Chris, and telling me how he's posting every day about his "personal freedom" being under attack, how the country shouldn't shut down, the economy is more important, that the democracy haters are the ones wanting to blow all this out of proportion. And I'm like dude... why don't you just call him an asshole?

But what I really want to do is still be there to call him and asshole.

And one thing I regret: I never called him an asshole.

I just quietly unfriended and drifted away, like I did to so many people during the 2008 election, 2012 election, 2016 election... they have no idea why.

I have seen the power of just telling people, for the record, that I am not on their side. I did it once at my office, actually. Some guys were always hate talking on the other side of a cube wall from me the year I was fighting for gay rights in Kansas. One day, they were musing about how we wouldn't even be able to put serial killers in jail, that'd be "judging" them and I guess we aren't allowed to "judge" anybody's lifestyle right? ha ha. I was shaking mad. I'd listened to their hate every day for weeks. I stood up and walked around that day and said, "I just want you to know I disagree with you." They said that's okay. But you know what? They never talked about that shit again. I didn't call them idiots or assholes. I just made them realize that they weren't surrounded by supporters like they thought.

I should have called out Chris after the nightclub shooting, and told him that his priorities were unimaginably fucked up if he was worried about his precious gun rights while dozens of families were trying to scrape together funeral plans. I don't know if it would have made a difference now, or changed how he is today.

I live in Kansas and being progressive here is like scooping a cup of water out of the ocean. I obsess about it, and it doesn't change anything. That's what I think whenever I quietly unfriend somebody. Might as well just let it go. The ocean will not miss anything.

It's weird that years later, I'm still thinking about it.