Maybe I should have addressed this “Dear Ex-Friend.” After all, I just unfriended you on Facebook, and many would consider that the very definition of an ex-friend. But I don’t consider you any less my friend. I did it because I am no longer willing to slog through the hate-filled swamp that your Facebook page has become.
One of the best things about Facebook is how it helps old friends like us reconnect; we who were close before time, distance and circumstances caused us to drift apart. How I’ve enjoyed learning about the ups and downs of your life today. I’ve oohed and ahhed over your adorable grandchildren. You’ve congratulated me on my kids’ triumphs. I’ve sent heartfelt thoughts and prayers during your health struggles. You’ve laughed at my goofy jokes. It’s obvious you’ve become a person of strong political conviction, and I honor that passion. But you’ve gone over the line. It’s not an exaggeration to say your passion has turned to hate, and I’ve had enough of it.
People I care about run the gamut of the political spectrum, from far left to far right. I have no problem with that. I don’t pick my friends based on their political views, and none of us get to pick our families, much as we might wish we could. Differences of opinion and robust debate are crucial to a strong, vibrant democracy, and people of good will should be able to disagree.
This election cycle has seen negative, ad hominem attacks ramped up like never before and you’ve embraced this corrosive rhetoric more than anyone else I know. You rightly condemn those who hate others based on sexual preference or skin color, but you are obviously filled with hate yourself. You reserve your discrimination for those whose ideas are different from yours. You spew your intolerance with the same spittle-flecked, wild-eyed screeching as legendary hate-mongers like Adolph Hitler, the Grand Wizard of the KKK and Louis Farrakhan.
Every day you post new, toxic political screeds on your Facebook wall. I don’t know how you find the time to track them down – it must be a full-time job. That poison vastly outnumbers the pictures of your cute grandkids. I wonder if you realize what you are teaching them; that those who disagree with you are not worthy of respect or courtesy.
Time and again I’ve wanted to comment; to suggest that perhaps people can have different ideas without being intrinsically wrong or evil. I’ve been tempted, but I’ve seen so often what happens to others in the public square who suggest multiple points of view might have merit. The response pays lip service to the concept of a free exchange of ideas, but the bottom line is a variation on the same theme:
“Diversity should be respected and celebrated! Except diversity of thought. If you disagree with me, you’re bad.”
So instead of pleading, arguing or cajoling, I slipped quietly away. Maybe I’m a coward, but daily life sends us enough pain and anger without going to the trouble of seeking it out. You’re selling toxic, and I’m not buying – not anymore.
I don’t post on Facebook very often, so you may not notice that my little picture has gone missing from your wall. I hope you read this. I hope you take a moment to think about what you want from life. I want to surround myself with people of integrity; honorable people who speak the truth as they see it with quiet conviction, and with respect for ALL their fellow men, no matter their skin color, sexual preference, religion, gender, economic status or political views.
How can we have peace between countries if we can’t have it between friends????
I want peace in my life. And that is also what I want for you, my friend. My dear, ex-Facebook friend.