Election season was rough, you guys. Signing on to Facebook was like walking into a field of landmines. So. Many. Memes. I couldn’t believe the bitterness that was happening between “friends”.
Meanwhile, I had a super close friend who I’ve communicated with almost daily for the past 12 years. We never have disagreements and act like fools, I thought. We’ve discussed everything there is to discuss, I thought. There’s nothing that we could possibly ever seriously clash over, I thought. Until we discussed the election.
All of our talks take place via instant message. So message by message this friend of mine, who was as close to the “perfect guy” as I’d ever seen, morphed into someone else. He started repeating talking points I heard on the news. The ones I turned off because they seemed to me to be coming from people from another planet. People who were super messed up. “Bad people”. But my friend had never seemed like a bad person. He couldn’t just suddenly be an ogre. What did it all mean!?!? Suddenly up was down. Down was up. It was all very unsettling.
This person I thought I knew suddenly seemed like a stranger as I realized it was more than just politics. It was a whole set of beliefs. How had I missed all of this? He was one of my closest friends. One of my favorite people in the world. There were few people on the earth I thought better of than him.
There was nothing I could do but to quit talking about it altogether and pretend it never happened. Except it had happened and it bothered me even though I knew it shouldn’t. And I tried to ignore it and push it away, but it still lingered in the back of my mind like that song you can’t get out of your head (Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey! ….What? I’m not old).
Several weeks after these exchanges, my friend asked me one day what I had brought for lunch. Since our conversations, I felt like he was a little more apt to get all Judgy McJudgerson on me. That day I had a meatless dish and I told him I didn’t want to say because he’d make fun of me. He didn’t understand that and said, “I’m not mean just to be mean.” It kind of jolted me back to reality and made me remember who I was dealing with. It was my friend, not a jackass.
So. It took me a little bit to realize that we are turning our friends into our enemies with the flip of a switch. One hot button topic and our friends are “unfriended”. They are still the same giving, loving, special people we have enjoyed all the other days of our lives, yet we let one certain type of disagreement change our view of them forever. Instead of looking at what they show us 99% of the time, we choose to take the 1% and blow it out of proportion.
I have learned that if my friend can be as wonderful as he is AND be a member of that party aka hold certain beliefs, then the people of that party can’t be all bad. Politics are polarizing. But we are all people with families and friends who are, for the most part, trying our best. We should see eachother as people first more often. I think it might help.