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  • Esther Good

Partisan Social Media: Why I Don’t Unfriend

Updated: Jan 23

“If you’re voting for Hillary, unfriend me now.”

I’ve read this more than once while scrolling through my news feed.  I try not to take it too seriously, but it’s still a little hurtful.  The truth is, I don’t know if I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton.  I don’t fall neatly into one political camp, although I do tend to lean decidedly left of center.  But the fact that we might disagree about politics doesn’t stop me from wanting to hear about your new baby or that crazy thing that happened to you at work yesterday. It also doesn’t stop me from wanting to hear your point of view.

unfriend by Oli Dunkley CC

So to those of you who asked me to unfriend you, I didn’t.

I’ve read my share of statuses that frustrated or angered me.  I’ve had to bite my tongue more than once, and failing that, I’ve written an inflammatory (and ill-advised) comment in the heat of the moment. So I do understand that social media is not always the ideal setting for meaningful dialogue.

But I think that segregating ourselves into groups of friends that think and believe just like we do would be a mistake.  Seeing my friends voice opposing view points makes me consider the complexities of an issue.  When someone I know and respect disagrees with me, it makes me questions my assumptions.  It makes me more careful about the words I use to I express myself, and the words I use to talk about other people.

On rare occasions, these disagreements even lead to me changing my mind.  But more often, and I believe more importantly, they give me a better understanding of why people believe the things they do.  Why they hold the positions they hold.

I believe that social welfare programs are important, but I understand that you might be worried about waste. I believe that vaccines do more good than harm, but I understand why you might feel suspicious. I don’t believe that Fox News is fair and balanced, but I understand that you might not feel your views are represented by mainstream media. I believe that meat is delicious, but I understand that you care about animals.

I don’t mean to suggest that every position is equally right.  But none of us are right about everything, and the more we understand each other, the more we can lean on each other to find our way.



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