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.
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.
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.
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.
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.