The Un-Friending

By Eilene Lyon

Perhaps it’s happened to you. I want to blame it on Russia’s divisive meddling in American social media, but maybe it’s my own fault. It’s probably more common than I realize, since I don’t spend much time on Facebook and refuse to tweet.

Nancy and I became friends nearly 30 years ago through a mutual friend.

She grew up on a Colorado ranch. I was a world-traveling Army brat.

She’s a Christian. I am not religious.

She’s part of a tight-knit family. I am part of a deconstructed family.

She now lives in a very conservative community, largely funded by fossil-fuel extraction. I live only 45 miles away, but in a liberal, tourism-dominated town.

You could say we have very different world-views. But we both love the outdoors, camping, dogs, and dancing the two-step. In our pre-marriage days, we comforted each other through many a bad break-up, and even a suicide. We knew how to cry together. We were there at each other’s weddings.

We skinny-dipped in Lake Powell, and when four thunderstorms converged on us from the cardinal directions as night fell, the two of us and three large dogs crammed into my Honda Accord in an unsuccessful attempt to get some sleep.

After marriage, we drifted apart. Nancy moved from my town to where she lives now, and our lives diverged. We hooked up on Facebook and Linked-In.

Recently, she posted a very hateful meme on her Facebook page. I knew she supported the current administration, but this was beyond the pale to me. I thought it might be a good idea to start a dialogue about the problems with this meme, so I posted a – what I thought was polite – comment.

Later, I looked to see if there were any responses. But what I discovered was, rather than a reply, Nancy had “unfriended” me!

Wow.

Is this really what our country is coming to? Does it have to be like this?

Yesterday my husband went to an organizing meeting for a new group called Better Angels. The idea is to bring together people from both sides of the political divide to find common ground and create a discussion that can hopefully bridge the gaps. I hope they succeed. Only one Republican, an elder rancher with a lot of community volunteer service under his belt, attended this first meeting.

I truly believe that most Americans have similar values and goals, just different ideas about how to achieve those goals. I worry that too many people pay attention to these hateful memes and don’t think critically about the issues that are troubling this nation.

We need to reach out to people with different opinions and learn to listen – carefully – to what they have to say.

I flubbed my chance with Nancy, but I’ll try to do better in the future.

 

Feature image:  by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

7 thoughts on “The Un-Friending

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  1. Very powerful message and completely factual. It is just awful that Americans have become so polarized. Like Eilene, I hope that at least some, maybe even most of us can see what is happening to our country and how we are being manipulated into hating one another. Let’s put a stop to it!
    We’re all Americans. We all (I hope) want peace and harmony and safety. Can we start there?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Unfortunately, you are not the only one who has lost a friend because of a difference of political opinion, Eilene. In the past year and a half, I have posted two political pieces: https://kindredconnection.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/march-on/ and https://kindredconnection.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/we-the-people/… just two. But those two were enough to push a longtime friend over the edge. It seems she could no longer be my friend because I did not share her beliefs. It still saddens me thinking about it… 😦

    Like

  3. I have a similar story. A very conservative woman who as a child lived next door to me, and with whom I have stayed in touch in person all these years, wrote a harsh comment on a post I made on my own FB page (I was criticizing the administration’s travel ban from middle east countries). I responded in what I thought was a direct but reasonable way and she got angry and un-friended me. We haven’t interacted in any way since (over a year). She threw away at 50 year relationship because she could not handle a truthful response to her bigoted comment. Well, it’s her conscience, not mine, that will pay the price.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, your friend may never see it that way. It’s sad, because I believe in always being there for friends, even after long absences, and despite their views contrary to mine. That’s just how I roll!

      Like

    1. I agree that we should not make politics a priority over relationships. I am all for open exchanges of ideas and finding common ground. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the divisions created by media (social and otherwise).

      Liked by 1 person

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