…so said my friend whose husband recently deleted his Facebook account. He’d gotten in touch with long-ago friends from school, but naturally their respective views had changed over the years. Over time he became increasingly distressed and disgusted that some of the people he’d liked so much in those days now had developed social and political views that were meanspirited, sometimes downright cruel, and showed little concern for others. He finally had enough and took his leave of them.
When I signed up for Facebook, it was to follow fellow writers and friends who had migrated from MySpace; finding long-ago friends was not something I anticipated and it was a pleasant surprise to hear from these friends as we caught up with each others’ lives. We all reminisced and enjoyed sharing memories of those earlier days; it was like old times. But of course our views had evolved in different directions. I have no problem with that fact; but I do have a problem when my views are not given the same respect I give to theirs.
Years ago I stopped associating with a group of people whose views and ideas did not reflect who they purported to be, people who talked about love, tolerance and forgiveness, but were small and mean toward others in their hearts. They were good at showing a lack of compassion toward those less fortunate, and to those who had problems they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, understand. I remained a part of this group for a time, as there were some people in it I liked otherwise very much and I kept hoping they’d change their minds about some things, but finally I had enough and walked away.
For 25 years I lived in a state where this same set of views was pervasive, in the culture and in the political scene. During the last presidential election I worked for the Obama/Biden campaign and was appalled anew at the views of many of the registered voters in the area with whom I spoke, many of whom held erroneous ideas and preferred to believe obvious lies and innuendo over the truth. These people exhibited this same small, mean outlook I’d tried to get away from before. I was ashamed when these same types of people attended the first McCain/Palin rally across the bay from my home, and made the national news by yelling for then-candidate Obama and his family to have vile things done to them, and worse to the candidate himself.
When the opportunity presented itself that I could move away from that state and its people, I jumped at the chance. I wanted an area with cool weather and a liberal outlook, and so I moved happily to Oregon. Granted, the entire state is not liberal, but my new city is very liberal, and it’s a refreshing change to see liberal bumper stickers and many Obama/Biden stickers from 2008; I saw only one or two when I worked with the campaign in Florida.
So, at this stage in my life I’ve situated myself where I want to be, and am working at surrounding myself with the kind of people with whom I can be myself, not having to suppress my point of view to get along with others. But now I find myself again in a situation online where there are people I remember fondly, but we’ve all changed so. There are people I knew as teens who were kind and helpful to others and were willing to give others a chance, and to consider ideas besides their own. But some of them now hold the same beliefs as the people I left behind in Florida. As my daughter recently said, “Why are you still friends with them?” Well, because we were such good friends in the old days, and I guess I’ve been hanging on to that. But it’s not worth the extra stress I’m feeling when they ridicule things that are important to me, and it’s time to move on.
You truly can’t go home again…