I recently “unfriended” a certain individual on Facebook. Considering, he was a former neighbour whom I have not seen in over 10 years, its not really a dramatic break up. However the amount of soul searching I’ve put myself through about this is completely out of proportion. I remember him as a really sweet guy and a big hearted family man. He made no slight against me. The thing that drove me away was his bloody politics.

This guy used Facebook as a platform to air his political opinions. So far, so democratic. His views were fervently to the right but I did not necessarily disagree with everything he had to say. As I have mentioned before, I’m disillusioned with the ALP. The only thing they seem to be able to organize is high level corruption but I digress.  Many of his posts were insults not arguments. Snarky comments were made about Julia’s appearance and personal life. The terms “Juliar” and “lying cow” were bandied about conveniently forgetting “No GST. Never ever”, “children overboard” and “non core promises”.  Of course the fact that both sides of politics have a very elastic concept of the truth hardly makes it right. It was undemocratic of the ALP to enforce the carbon tax when they had gone to polls with the promise that they would not do so.

Some people's opinions are rusted on.

Some people’s opinions are rusted on.

Anyhow this fellow started up with the climatic change denial which I found hard to take given that he is not a scientist. He continued to erode his credibility constant references to the Daily Telegraph (Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt etc).  I was finally pushed too far when he lauded the wit and wisdom of radio 2GB’s Ray Hadley and dissed the ABC. That really hurt! He’d insulted some of my favorite Thinking Women’s Crumpet – Jonathan Green, Richard Glover, the adorable James Valentine and the incomparable Richard Fidler.  In a frenzy of irritation I banished him to cyber no man’s land.

Dont dis The Val, He's a TWC.

Dont dis The Val, He’s a TWC.

Now I am suffering a case of “unfriender’s remorse” .  I struck him off the list because his ideas and tastes clashed with my own. This was an act of hypocrisy given I’d recently blogged about how I intend to consider all sides of the political argument before deciding where to expend my vote in September. I also pondered whether it was snobbery to dismiss someone because they listen to 2GB.

My red tailed horny self said “Oh Hell No.  2GB is the home Alan Jones. Anyone who takes that tripe seriously  is an intellectual pygmy”. My haloed and winged self chimed in melodically with “But are you any better with your carey, sharey, groovy, politically correct, token female Linda Mottram on ABC 702”. “Oh Hell Yes. Linda has more than two neurons to rub together” retorted my inner devil. On and on went the internal wrangling.

Wrestling my conscience.

Wrestling my conscience.

Eventually my train of thought chugged on. I wondered how my new “unfriend” would react to someone bombarding his social media with pro-green, pro-labor sentiment on a daily basis. Would he tolerate a constant stream of Tony Abbott bashing? Would he calmly accept someone linking to articles by John Pilger, Bob Ellis, Brian Toohey or even Annabel Crabb?  I doubt it.

Many people have views so deeply ingrained they don’t even know where they come from. I doubt they ever stop to question their beliefs or consider the other side of the story. It must be marvelous to go through life with such certainty. It definitely saves a lot of mental energy.

I was raised with Labor sensibilities (Who ever would have guessed eh?) but I question the beliefs I was brought up with constantly. It can be a painful process.  In fact at times it can feel like ripping your own soul to pieces. Nevertheless I believe its a worthwhile thing to do. I challenge you to look at something you feel strongly about, be it a political, social or even religious issue, and dissect it as dispassionately as you can.  At worst it could lead to changing your stance and there’s no shame in that. At best you could find your ideas and principles vindicated. Either way you’ll be able to support your view point with a more rigorous argument and just a touch more respect for the other side.  More respect can only be a good thing – that’s a certainty.

Do you ever question your beliefs, ideals and choice of radio presenters?

Remember once you unfriend someone refriending is near impossible. It involves far too much humble pie than one can stomach.

Love Mumabulous

NB: Leigh Sales the ABC journalist wrote published a book  on this very subject called “On Doubt”.  I’m going to have to read it now seeing as I’m so “down with” the concept.

photo credit: drspam via photopin cc

photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc

21 thoughts on “Certainty

  1. I know what you mean. I have a few rightwingers on Facebook, and some of the ‘shares’ are hard to swallow. I have considered a cull. I admire a friend of mine who basically culled everyone who shared bigoted unkind statuses. It seemed a pretty good solution, because as you say, Left and Right are often equally disappointing.

  2. Ahh I have defriended a few over the last few months.. – my hubby’s friends who really I don’t need to be friends with, some old highschool friends who I never talk to or see IRL.. and there have been a few that have taken to facebook with issues – politics, news, telling every little detail of their life.. that made me feel like I couldn’t associate with them like that.

    #teamIBOT was here

  3. Not a word of a lie I got a FB message from someone I de-friended a while and she asked why I hadn’t accepted her new request?!!!! I told her that I had a major cull of peeps who didn’t actively participate in my life, because I’m quite personal on FB, and that I had a tough year last year and she was understanding about it, I have now re-friended her but if she doesn’t comment/like etc I will again get rid of her my next cull – no time for lurkers! Em xxx

  4. Good on you for unfriending him, I know what you mean about the doubt and whether it was the right thing to do, I probably would have been lame and just hidden him from my feed. I was warmed to read that I am not the only disillusioned labor supporter though. The whole Nova Peris thing was the final straw for me.

  5. I have unfriended people for the same reason in the earlier days of Facebook. Now that there are so many options to hide people’s updates from your newsfeed I tend to take the coward’s way out and do that – that way I don’t need to be bombarded by their rants, but I don’t have to cut them off entirely. I think what you’ve done is much braver though. Good on you for standing up for what you believe in. I mean, honestly, does anyone who dislikes Richard Fidler even deserve to own a computer???

  6. Politics on Facebook!! That’s just not cricket. Seriously – that is definitely grounds for defriending in my playbook. (Plus, nobody is actually ever notified they’re unfriended and is unlikely to notice). Great post – and I agree absolutely. Though I must say, challenging is exhausting and it’s so much easier to just accept your ingrained pre-planted indoctrinated beliefs. I can’t do it though. Law degree. It broke me. I’ll be argumentative (even against myself) until the day I die.

  7. Indeed I am, and I have no curfew. Weeeeee!!! Will I be seeing you there?

  8. I have a hard time unfriending people…. but when they dis James Valentine… well you’ve got no choice. I have a friend who often voices her strong political opinions- I find it very off putting- nearly makes me want to vote for a different party just to spite her

  9. Dis the ABC!? Hardly Australian! Honestly, worry about the people you care about, and cull the rest. Most people don’t even notice when I have unfriended them – at least, I don’t hear any of their complaints… 😉

  10. I question all the time … and make my students do it too (whether they want to or not!) … I’m going to check that book out now 🙂

  11. The ABC! How dare they. Not only would I have defriended them but I would also have hunted them down and egged their house.
    Just kidding.

  12. Oh the agony of defriending on face book the agony when they find out.

  13. I would like to see, as I mentioned on another blog comment just this morning actually, prison time for ALL politicians who renege on pre election promises. Liars are a particular passion of mine. I loathe most pollies – on both sides – with a deep and abiding passion – and mainly for the fact that they are such blatant liars. It makes me incandescent with rage when people try to excuse lying pollies by saying “Oh, they all do it”. Well they effing shouldn’t and it’s time we held them all accountable. It would certainly ensure they didn’t make promises they knew they couldn’t keep,. Again, both sides, all elections, not pointing any particular elbows.

    Anyway, climbs off soap box, ahem…

    As for FB, we all have to do what we feel comfortable with. I ditched FB last October, but for sure I did not follow vitriolic persons, or not for long. Your ex neighbour is entitled to be foaming and raving and just to the right of Hitler, and you are absolutely entitled not to have to listen to that. I have unfollowed quite a few tweeps on Twitter who attacked Obama. I already know the issues, right and left, and am always willing to listen to new evidence and debates – but most people attack the person, they do not debate rationally or discuss the topic, they simply make facts up (again, on both sides) and indulge in continual Ad hominem attacks. Why clutter up your life, or your brain with such nonsense?

    I think you did the right thing, he was obviously starting to annoy you, life is just too short to invite that sort of thing in. After all, he was the one who was rude in the first place by lecturing everyone on his friends’ list. We cannot make people behave well, be considerate, be fair, but we have a perfect right to walk away from them when they are not 🙂

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