“Unfriended”

July 19th

I happen to like Anchovies, whether in their original, fresh-from-ocean-form or when they are salted and packed in oil. It is not a position held by many. In fact, most of my friends and family are not fans of what I think of as a great treat. We remain connected and close, however, despite our different opinions. It is a matter of taste (and texture, for some) so I have no problem agreeing to disagree. As long as you let me have my anchovies and I agree not to force them on you, we can get along just fine.
Agreeing to disagree is not always that simple. It’s a matter of both style and substance. For instance, if you were to make gagging noises or leave the room because my Pizza had anchovies on it, we would have a problem. We would have an even bigger problem if you mocked me for my flavour preference or tried to deny me access to the treat I enjoy. Agreeing to disagree comes in various (pun intended) flavours, not all of which are just or acceptable.
I have unfriended various people, both in the Facebook sense and in real life because of we can’t really agree to disagree, and not over Anchovies. When the discussion centres around broad justice issues or personal beliefs it is hard, if not well nigh impossible, to turn a blind eye, which is a big part of agreeing to disagree. You might not like Anchovies, but you don’t make a big fuss about it when I enjoy one or two. My pleasure does not detract from yours, so you just ignore what I’m eating, and I don’t make a big fuss about my enjoyment versus your lack of enjoyment.
Not all issues are like that. If I were to believe that slavery was right you would have every right to call me to account or to unfriend me. When someone is clearly professing or doing something that is hurtful, hateful, ignorant or just plain wrong, there is little room to agree to disagree or to turn a blind eye. Or, if I were to become abusive about my love of Anchovies and call you a name or insult your taste or intelligence, there is no reason for you to stick around. Agreeing to disagree should not be a source of pride or pain.
Some folks argue that it’s not worth losing (or dumping) friends simply because you can’t see eye-to-eye. That’s very true when it comes to my love for Anchovies. But when someone bashes the LGBTQi community, or mocks a disabled person, or takes advantage of a neighbour or does anything that hurts, diminishes or asserts privilege over another human being, chances are that I will unfriend them. I will first try to help them see the pain or suffering they are causing but if they continue their harmful ways or direct their unacceptable behaviour towards me, you can be sure that I will part ways with them.
A friend is a special gift from God. You might not always see eye-to-eye with them about what to put on a Pizza, but you can accept their eccentric tastes and still be friends. Those are the people we should treasure and hold dear and who will never give us cause to unfriend them.

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