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!
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