By David Berry: Your Facebook ‘friends’ might have you convinced that they’ve fought tooth and nail over opposing political views and, as a result, lost friends during the presidential election. They’re full of shit.
The average Facebook user has roughly 338 friends. But it seems that the people who feel they’ve lost Facebook friends are confusing them with real friends. And let’s face it – at best, each of us is lucky to have 10 friends. I’m not talking about the guy you see once every few months who you’ll grab a beer with to stay in touch. I’m talking about real friends; the people you do life with. The people you confide in. The people you cry with. The people you share intimate moments with.
If you lost one of those people over the election of a political candidate, then you were: A) Never friends to begin with, or B) A really bad friend.
I have a group of friends (see: REAL friends) that I grew up with in Rochester, NY. We’ve been tight for more than half of our lives, and some even longer. Among the seven of us, three are democrats and four are republicans. Broken down even further, you could say that two are moderate democrats, two are moderate republicans, and the remaining three fill out the ‘far left or far right’ of the spectrum.
In short, our political views are a representative sample size of the US population as a whole. And guess what? Today, January 24, 2017, we’re all still friends. Really good friends.
And in that are two lessons. 1. It is possible – no, it is necessary – to be friends with people you don’t always agree with, even with those disagreements are intense. And 2. It is a tad foolish to make judgments about friendships using social media as a measuring stick.
Let me be clear – this group of seven friends had moments in the lead up to the election where we had to step away and cool off for a bit after the dialogue got particularly fiery. We know how to push each other’s buttons and often did. Whoops. But here’s the most important thing about that – we came back to a place of levelheadedness.
You might be surprised to know this, but outside of politics, there are a lot of things you can have in common with someone that can bring you extremely close together. The Dallas Cowboys, Game of Thrones, woodworking, motocross, skiing, running, reading, cooking…you get the point? Each of us shares those things in spades because we’re people, not red or blue specs on a map.
And just because one issue was a very hot button issue for you doesn’t mean it was a very hot button issue for someone else. And guess what? That’s what being a person is!
As Chris Rock once said about politics: “No decent person is one thing. I got some things I’m conservative about, I got some things I’m liberal about. Crime? I’m conservative. Prostitution? I’m liberal!”
So despite all of that, you genuinely lost a friend during the election, then I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you were never friends to begin with. You just weren’t. You may have been close for a moment but you were not real friends. You were acquaintances. Acquaintances are fine; in fact, most of the people we interact with on a day to day basis are just that. But as much as it sucks to lose an acquaintance, it happens.
On the flip side, some of you are just really shitty people. You might actually be the problem. And that’s where my second point came in – it is a tad foolish to make judgments about friendships using social media as a measuring stick.
Let me provide you with a few examples of things you should always do in person. Say ‘I love you.’ Propose marriage. Have a conversation that can make or break a relationship. Get into an argument; a real argument.
The fact is that you never have the whole picture on social media. You often have far less than that. You have a still image of a person and some text or an article. You can’t hear their tone. You can’t see their heart. You rarely have context for why they feel this way, and even so, you can’t see their body language as they provide that extra context anyway.
As adults, we shouldn’t have to have this conversation, but the election and post-election atmosphere seems to warrant it. If you find yourself in a disagreement with a friend – a real friend – pick up the phone. Get in the car. Meet face to face. And hash it out.
If you can’t do that, then you’re not a friend worth having. And you surely aren’t the type of person to win anyone over with your political views.