I used to pride myself for never unfriending anyone on Facebook. I just wouldn’t do it. I wanted to show that I would reject no one, that I was perfectly inclusive. When things got really out of hand, when someone was attacking me intensely, one of my other friends would step in and join the fight. That friend would invariably say something that would lead to the aggressor unfriending me.
Recently, I have noticed that much of my time online was spent sparring with people who neither understood what I was talking about nor were capable of (or interested in) finding out. There was a kind of arrogance that suggested they knew better than me, that I was wrong, and that I needed to learn something from them. However, no matter how much time I would spend to understand their point of view, it never seemed to satisfy them. They seemed to need me to change so that I supported their perspective wholeheartedly. I had to become a different person to validate them. I just couldn’t do that. I can’t convert to a religion and I can’t lie about how I feel, what I know, or what I am experiencing.
The reality is that my social media profile is mine. I am presenting myself to the world as best I can. Just because I seem open to other ideas, it doesn’t mean that I’m naïve. I can’t be brainwashed to make these people feel better. My wife, Cindy, has told me many times to just unfriend these people. She tells me that they don’t respect me, that they don’t appreciate me, and that they have no idea where I’m coming from. She points out that they waste my time and energy. Here are three archetypes I’ve ended up blocking:
The Political Zealot
This is a person who believes that one particular political leader is the only good one and that every other politician is evil. They think that this one leader can do no wrong, and they insist on me seeing the truth in that and agreeing with them. To this person, I am not allowed to have my own political views. If I disagree with them, it’s because I’m stupid, uninformed, and brainwashed.
The Spiritual Bullshitter
This is a person who reads what I write, thinks they know what I’m talking about, and then parrots back nonsense at me. We never seem to get on the same page, and they never seem to accept that I am allowed to have my own expression of what’s happening for me without it being accompanied by a patronizing yet gibberish commentary. I say, “Here is my message,” and they seem to piss on it, repeatedly. It bothers me because it’s disrespecting a message that I value.
The Victim of Privilege
This is a person with victim mentality who seems to be jealous of me for one reason or another and chooses to try to take me down a peg by attributing everything I do to privilege. They suggest that even though I write and publish a lot, it’s only because I am privileged. They claim that I can write about no-self only because I am privileged. I don’t understand the logic behind any of this, but it seems to be just another excuse to not do what they want. Anyone can have an account on Medium. Anyone can get up early in the morning and write. Anyone can read books on grammar. Anyone can meditate. Anyone can have their own Facebook timeline where they express themselves.
In the last week, I have taken a no-holds-barred approach to unfriending and blocking people. As soon as there is a sign of disrespect, often informed by past interactions, I am shutting it down. Folks don’t get to be part of my world if they can’t extend basic respect to others.
Yesterday, a comment came in from a friend who has pushed his luck with disrespect before. Instead of engaging in a pointless and never-ending game of emotional push-pull, as I would in the past, I asked if he was willing to be vulnerable and authentic on my timeline. He refused, so I unfriended and blocked his ass; nothing personal.