Don’t (Just) Unfriend Them
There are people making noise in your Facebook feed. Racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic noise and it’s doing your head and your heart in.
Almost everyone will tell you to unfriend them. But – maybe – don’t.
Instead: keep posting your pro-justice comments, blog posts and status updates. Let *them* keep seeing that, hearing that.
There have been many, many, MANY times, for example, when I have been an oblivious dolt buffered by my own privilege and then I read or watched something or several somethings that educated me and made me a more compassionate and sophisticated citizen. Maybe if you keep talking to (at?) the dolts, something will break through.
Preaching to the converted, after all, is pleasant but unproductive.
So don’t unfriend them for their bullshit noise. Keep singing your righteous songs.
Don’t just unfriend them.
If you *must* unfriend them, be direct. If you can do so safely, confront. Be willing to be uncomfortable for the cause. Send a message or make a call and explain how and why you’re disgusted with their disgustingness.
Even if you don’t have a lot of close contact with them, tell them. Even if you DO have a lot of contact with them, tell them. (But again, only if you can safely do this.)
Sure, it’s easy to say not my circus, not my monkeys but if you live in this world and give a shit about other people, it IS your circus and those monkeys need some motherluvin’ correction. You could avoid the awkwardness and ugliness of that conversation, but it creates no change. You can silently unfriend them, and they won’t even notice, or if they do, it’s days or weeks or months later, and they don’t know what happened or what they did wrong. At best that’s a pretty Pyrrhic victory. The losers are utterly unscathed.
Instead, confront. Double down on making the bigots uncomfortable. Why should they prance through the world spewing hatred and making people miserable and unsafe? Why should you accommodate and coddle them? When you let it slide, you give your permission for it to continue. Do not abdicate your moral responsibilities. Tell the bigots they are wrong and their ways are ugly.
Alas, in my experience, they won’t immediately see the error of their ways and repent but they will get the message that this is unacceptable. Imagine if they were getting that message all day, every day. Their behavior would get unsustainable in a hurry.
So, stretch. Confront before you unfriend. They’ll argue with you about the definition of racism as though their proud and public claim to hate all people of a particular ethnicity or religion doesn’t meet the standard of proof required; suggest that despite your framed pieces of paper and academic prizes you really need to get an education; ask you “What, do you think you’re doing some kind of justice work?” (umm, yes); and call you a cranky bitch and suggest you eat something.
And you know what? You won’t die. You will, however, take care to look especially fly when you drop the kids at daycare lest you run into her, which, when you look at it, is really a win-win for you and the world. Righteous and fine. Ask me how I know.