Keep your friends close & family closer

Defriend on FacebookI defriended my cousin on Facebook. My father’s mother’s brother’s son. I feel bad about it, but he had stepped over the virtual line we had drawn by posting another pseudo-political diatribe/comment on my wall.

My cousin’s belief system has little room for fact and he has found that Facebook is the perfect pulpit for his sputem-stained dogma. Please don’t misunderstand, I have tremendous respect and admiration for people of faith – especially, religious faith, faith in aliens, faith in spouses, children, the dollar – that sort of thing. I really don’t think it is any of my business what someone believes that makes them happy or provides them the peace or comfort we all need to get through this life. Shoot, at appropriate times, I even think it might be wonderful when they share their life’s experience in the context of faith. I actually believe a couple things, too.

However, I do have a problem with people who pick fights on my Facebook wall, in front of my virtual friends and family, and lie, misrepresent, subvert and attempt to recruit others into drinking the cult tea of faith-cloaked narcissistic xenophobic ignorance, hatred and racism. It’s perfectly ok to be stupid, but keep it to yourself or share it quietly with people of a similar dementia. And for goodness sakes, don’t publicly embarrass the whole family after we have all spent a lifetime trying to hide our variations of bat shit crazy.

My cousin’s mom and dad were two of the kindest and enlightened people I have known. They were conservative when that label had nothing to do with politics – they were humble, loving and devoted. My cousin’s dad spent his working life as a government social worker – giving up better pay for the service of people. At least on Facebook, my cousin is an arrogant self-righteous sociopath.

I used to meet my cousin’s dad for coffee at Carpenter Brothers’ drug store where we’d talk and laugh about the news and politics. My cousin listens to talk radio, parrots it on Facebook and has no visible sense of humor.

For years, I tried to pretend his rants were a sophisticated, but twisted form of satire. That I could learn about this strange side of America who believes our President is not a citizen; a practicing Muslim, as if that mattered; both a socialist and a fascist; has a goal to bankrupt the country to achieve some unknown goal somehow related to illegal immigration; unregulated greed is better than equal protection; that democracy has been subverted when their candidate loses; that there can be simplistic solutions to solve complicated problems; and success is an indication of your favor with god while kindness, respect and understanding are abominations.

I had turned down his volume as low as Facebook allows, what was I to do, poke him?

15 thoughts on “Keep your friends close & family closer

    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      A lot of good answers to that straight line, I suggest your should send her an invitation to be your enemy on assbook.com, then send her a superpoke.

      Reply
  1. Jim Smith

    Being a neophyte in Facebook etiquette but having noticed how Facebook sometimes behaves like an overzealous party host, shoving our heads together with infrequent email correspondents who we’d prefer just to nod at; Lee, I have had precious friends send messages filled with testimonials about how obviously cynical candidates embody their most cherished ideals, or how some new supplement or spiritual practice changed a life.

    Not quite the same as your situation. Apparently your cousin crossed the line into becoming someone who could not talk to anyone who didn’t buy his whole attic full of unquestioned ideas. That is hard to deal with, and my impulse would be to shut the door.

    While I’m not sure about the impact of de-friending someone, it might be that you have some unfinished business with this person. Whatever course you choose from here, I wish you luck.

    Reply
  2. Frank Povah

    A sad but familiar tale. And anyone who doesn’t agree with aforementioned ranters is a dangerous subversive, a traitor, ignorant, a militant atheist, or worse, a liberal.

    I admire your courage in removing him from your list of contacts and sympathize with the conflict engendered by your obvious respect for his parents.

    Reply
  3. Alex Kearns

    Thanks for another great article, Lee. I have had to “defriend” several people on FaceBook for the same reason: they crossed the line repeatedly even after I requested that they not spew their noxious bile on my wall. Being someone who is reluctant to be at all rude, I warned them several times, removed their posts and then, finally, cut them off. The silence was golden.
    It occurred to me then that perhaps I should adapt the same stance in real life and rid myself of the energy-sucking, soul-bashing negative forces (aka some relatives and/or social acquaintances). It’s amazing how peaceful life can be when you “defriend” those who refuse to keep their insanity to themselves and use their belief systems as cudgels.
    (Occasionally, during the can’t-sleep-brain-racing-4am crazies, I am sorely tempted to defriend myself…but I haven’t figured out how to do that one yet).

    Reply
  4. Marilyn Suriani

    Lee,
    This paragraph is one of the best and most succinct descriptions of this “phenomena” I have ever read. I so appreciate your writing.

    For years, I tried to pretend his rants were a sophisticated, but twisted form of satire. That I could learn about this strange side of America who believes our President is not a citizen; a practicing Muslim, as if that mattered; both a socialist and a fascist; has a goal to bankrupt the country to achieve some unknown goal somehow related to illegal immigration; unregulated greed is better than equal protection; that democracy has been subverted when their candidate loses; that there can be simplistic solutions to solve complicated problems; and success is an indication of your favor with god while kindness, respect and understanding are abominations.

    Reply
  5. Pat Taylor

    I work for a newspaper, The Pilot in Southern Pines, NC. We have a good web site that allows people to comment on stories, blogs, columns, editorials, etc. There are a certain number of people who, given the opportunity to spout off without having to sign their names, change into extraordinarily obnoxious people. We, too, cut them off when they get out of line. Our on-line guy calls it “web Terets Syndrome”.

    Reply
    1. Diane L.

      Hey Pat, I’m sure you meant “Tourette’s Syndrome.” It’s pronounced like you spelled it, but spelled Tourette. It’s often associated with the exclamation of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks, and is named after a French doctor, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who published an account of nine patients with the syndrome in 1885. If Wikipedia isn’t wrong about those facts.

      (Amazing how erudite Wikipedia can make you sound? )

      Reply
  6. George

    When the holier than thous attacked Van Jones I sort of electronically laughed at some of my FB friends for getting so worked up over a freedom threatening environmentalist. I was amazed at the amount of backlash that came my way. I decided that FB was not the fun social network that I had thought it to be. I have decided to only post information about my minor injuries and post pictures of my grandson, puppies and kittens.

    Reply
  7. Meg Gerrish

    A study presented in February by “Psychological Science” (so says WebMd, but I couldn’t find the original story) suggests that the personality one presents on Facebook is more of the true self than what we present in public. Turns out my favorite relative-by-law — so funny and spirited — is mean-of-spirit and vapid on Facebook, and what she presented in that forum brought new focus to real-life inconsistencies in her behavior when she sat at the dinner table. Turns out the stuff I thought was just Silly Being Silly was really representing a jerk.

    Defriended, since as it turns out, she never considered me a friend at all. Could be that my Facebook personna of being obnoxious has always put her off in real life, too. Ah well.

    As it happens, there is no notification that one is “defriended” so that relative-by-law of mine or your cousin, Lee, may not even know.

    Reply
  8. Monica Smith

    Lee,

    Was your cousin, perchance, a “difficult birth?” I’m working up this hypothesis that perinatal asphyxia (deprivation of oxygen to the brain because the lungs aren’t working to capacity) may account for a permanent disconnect between the basal ganglia (where instinct dwells) from the cognitive brain and that, as a result of this disconnect, the person is not aware of himself and not able to exercise self-control. Moreover, the instincts seem to provide misleading information, leaving the person in a frequent state of error — a most unsettling situation and frustrating.
    The insecure are often obnoxious as a cover. Besides, if obnoxious behavior is a reason for being rejected, then the bully has some modicum of control.

    Reply
  9. Henry Scott

    Lee:

    I’ve had the same problem, and finally spent a ridiculous amount of time learning to master Facebook’s privacy controls. Now no one can post on my wall, and my friends are sorted into various buckets so they can’t interact with one another. I learned that from my mother, who had to separate her more aggressive male Boston Terriers.

    Henry

    Reply

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