My Facebook Dilemma

Posted by Prince Gomolvilas
ON Thursday, October 23, 2008
I just discovered that one of my Facebook "friends" supports Proposition 8 and is against equal rights for all. I can't imagine myself being friends, virtual or otherwise, with somebody who actively favors discrimination. (This person belongs to not one, but two!, pro-Prop 8 Facebook groups.) I don't really keep up with Facebook all that much, so this issue is more symbolic than anything else. What should I do? Keep this person on my friends list, or remove this person quickly and go on a Facebook witch hunt for other wayward "friends?" Yes, I really intellectually agonize over such things.

Tangentially related to all this is something I wrote elsewhere in the blogosphere, "I've considered doing all I can to be accepting of other people's opinions, but after a while I realized no one in their right mind would ever expect a neo-Nazi and Jew to hang out or a KKK member and a black person to have a pleasant discussion. I'm never going to sway someone who spews hate speech in the guise of friendly discourse anyway, so I'm not going to waste my time playing nice with them. There are better men than I who can. I'm not there yet. I've faced too much discrimination in my life—overt and subtle—not to be at least a bit agitated."

So, dear readers, I'm agitated. But are there indirect benefits of me keeping this "friend" on Facebook?
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  1. Anonymous Said,

    I think it depends on how many Facebook friends you have. If you have trouble accumulating Facebook friends and your weak number makes you feel unpopular, then maybe you should just tolerate this person's presence on your friend list. However, if you are happy with the number of friends you have, or you know that you can add new friends easily, then you can definitely de-friend him/ her. It'll feel bitchy, but in a good way. However, if your friend has subscribed to the Honesty Box application, then you should not de-friend him/ her. Instead, you should harass him/ her anonymously. Finally, as an alternative to de-friending, you could always sign up for the Yes on 8 pages that your friend has joined, and undermine those groups by posting antagonistic comments. In fact, before you de-friend a person who you thought was cool, perhaps you should check to make sure that s/he didn't join the Yes on 8 groups as a "goof" or just so s/he could criticize the anti-marriage crowd. Whichever route you take, always remember that, while politics can be deeply significant on a personal level, having friends is the most important thing in the world, and that includes Facebook friends, so never take a de-friending decision lightly.


  2. Hm. I don't know. I've really flip-flopped on this issue over the past two weeks, my "best friend" in real life and I crashed and burned in a very ugly way over politics.

    She said she was always going to vote Republican because "why should she just write a check for people not to work?" She's very well paid and I've been a friend to her and her kids for years, but then when she defended Palin, too, I snapped.

    I think it's a dead friendship, now. Almost ten years of spending time together, but she's really taken my blog personally and is really mad at me because of my blog and how I "view all the other Republican moms" --- It's just bad, now.

    It's history. I wish I could call it all back into the genie bottle, but the secret's out. I'm fed up and disgusted with greedy people and liars. I can't be friends with anyone who thinks Palin is wonderful or who apparently (didn't know till now) voted for Bush. Twice. And will vote for McCain. Nope. I don't think I can go back in time. It's just social darwinism.

    Besides I still let her kids come over and spend the night with my kids even after this fall out, since I didn't want our children's friendship to suffer. But, her kids were hateful to each other on this visit. They weren't very nice to me, either. And I was bending over backwards to be fair and kind inspite of the differences between us moms. -- Well, the older girl hit her little sister in the face and the other sister cut all the Barbie hair off my kid's dolls and it just seemed so obvious: This family has anger management issues and no respect for other people's property. Wonder where that came from?

    We all just seem to have drifted apart.

    I have no idea how the world will look to us all on November 5th.


  3. I don't even know HOW to defriend someone on Facebook. All I can tell you is that in 2003, a friend of mine from Renton High School in the early 70s looked me up and said, "I'm going to be in LA next week, can I crash with you for a couple of days?" I was intrigued, because we HAD been friends, then in our sophomore year, he ran away from home, dropped out of school, reportedly joined the Love Family, then came back in the spring, as an "emancipated" adult, so at sixteen, we hung out at his place a lot and did a lot of things that we shouldn't have, so I thought he was pretty cool.

    In 2003, he was totally bald and said suspicious things about the 2nd Amendment, but to his request, I said..."Uh...sure!"

    We talked for hours, got caught up on the past 25 years, then he started to speak ill of Gore and the 2000 election, and I said, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait. A minute. You didn't vote for Bush...did you?

    He said, "Are you kidding?"

    I said, "No."

    He said, "Yes."

    I said, "Get out of my house. GET OUT of my house. I'M SERIOUS, GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE."



  4. PS: As an artist, I believe your desire to remain open to all opinions is a laudable one. But if the people who hold opinions that differ from yours believe that you are less than them or do not have the same rights as they do or that you are in any way inferior to them, then FUCK THEM because they are Neanderthal idiots. Sure, there may be value in understanding what makes Neanderthal idiots tick, but do you really want to be connected to them in any way, including digitally?

    After thinking about this a little bit more, I say: Fuck them.


  5. pps: In the face. Thank you for allowing me to vent, marginally on behalf of same sex marriage, but mostly, against the fact that we even have to argue with morons who just LIE and LIE and LIE because they know that there are people even MORE STUPID THAN THEY ARE who might believe their lies and vote yes. I can't wait for November 4. Actually, I can't wait for November 5. Because then, the world will be a better place, I know.


  6. This is such an interesting thread. Where shall we begin?

    Anonymous, I have plenty of Facebook friends, so losing a chunk won't hurt my online cred. :) I did consider infiltrating the group into order to shame them, but no doubt I would be kicked out pretty quickly. Not worth the time.

    Louise, what a tragic story. Politics really does seem to be one of those irreconcilable things.

    Ken, that story made me laugh. I wish I had the balls to message my "friend" and say, "FUCK YOU!"

    Oh...what to do...what to do....


  7. Eric Said,

    I got this cheesy book for Christmas called "How to win a fight with a conservative" its pretty cheap and is a pretty good buy and pretty useful in this kind of situation.

    Before deleting this person from your friends list try and have just a off beat conversation. Just because they support prop 8 doesn't are out to put us in concentration camps. Try to find out why they support it. If they just spout out talking points from the sleazy commercials feel free to dismiss them, but really it is always awesome to have a civil and productive chat with someone with opposing viewpoints.


  8. jeff Said,

    Hmm... if this isn't a friend in real life, or someone you actually know in some tangental way, I'd probably just send a note saying "I don't think I want to be friends, even virtually, with people who want to undermine my ability to live my life openly, honestly, so your support for Proposition 8 means I will have to delete you. I can't avoid the people who will negatively affect me in real life. On FaceBook, however, I can."

    And then delete them.

    Make them defend themselves and ask to be refriended. :-)

    Now, if this is someone you actually feel you know, I'd go more the conversation route. But putting "friend" in quotes leads me to think you could care less if they weren't in your Facebook friends list.


  9. Well all the comments before me are very good, but then if its me I would sent that person some hate mails and then delete their ass off. Unlike the first Anon comment up there, I have no qualms with deleting ppl on FB.


  10. Narrioch Said,

    I think as we get older friendship circles do get smaller, people drift away due to far smaller issues but you have your values: isn't that what makes us what we are? I think from what I read of you, you are a pretty balanced and fair person, and open to debate/discussion. But then this person would actively do something that could hurt you or people close to you. I had a guy chat to me online occassionally, until he revealed he was a hunter. WTF? That's really against my principles, I told him so but he tried to suggest i must have 'had a bad experience with a hunter'. I'd be happy to debate such an issue with others but when it comes down to it, it goes against my values. Even though he was very pleasant, I couldn't have kept up a friendship with him. So I deleted. Bye bye.


  11. Annie Said,

    This actually happened to me a few weeks ago, and like you, I thought about deleting my anti-equality Facebook friend. Instead, I joined as many marriage quality groups I could find on Facebook. Then, I blogged about it. And blogged about it again. As of right now my status update mentions said blog posts and encourages everyone to read them and get involved.

    This may be a Pollyanna way of looking at things, but how am I going to help my friends understand how this and other issues impact my family and my community - and ultimately, my Facebook friends, too - if I don't stay in contact with them?

    Friends are more apt to listen to my viewpoint than a total stranger, even if they don't agree and never will. That alone is reason enough to keep them on my list. Can we be close? Probably not. But if I can bend her ear for a second, I'll keep her.


  12. Annie Said,

    Oops, typo. "Marriage equality groups,' not "marriage quality groups." Although, what would a marriage quality group do, I wonder?


  13. I think Jeff's proposed route is a good one. And look, if you need someone to replace this guy I'll be happy to be your facebook friend.

    Just don't pay attention to the fact I'm in a few "Death to playwrights" groups.


  14. Renee Gannon Said,

    See that this "friend" belongs to not one, but two, YES on Prop 8 groups, I think it's time to say Goodbye. Parting is such sweet sorrow although in this case, I'm guessing it's sans sorrow.


  15. Thanks for your feedback, people. This issue has been making my brain hurt.

    Anyway, I should clarify. This "friend" is someone I knew in high school, who was rather friendly to me back then. I requested this person's Facebook friendship because another friend of mine was in contact with this person. I, however, have not even had the slightest bit of online contact with this person at all, except this person sent me a "Scramble" request that I ignored. (I don't do applications.) So, yes, that's why "friend" is in quotes. I do like the idea that my profile picture is a big NO ON 8 button, and that icon keeps showing up on this person's page any time I do something on Facebook. And that icon also will randomly show up on this person's profile page when this person's other friends go there. This person must've seen that profile pic by now, so I'm wondering if we're both not playing a variation of Gay Chicken to see who will delete the other first.... The plot thickens....


  16. Quin Browne Said,

    dump their ass.

    then add me since you haven't yet.


  17. Yeah, no shit. Me, too.


  18. Anonymous Said,

    If you think you're caught in a game of "de-friending chicken" then you should make sure that you de-friend him/ her first. You lose face anytime somebody de-friends you, at least a little, even if it's somebody you're glad not to be friends with. My advice is that you should preemptively de-friend this person before s/he has the satisfaction of de-friending you.


  19. Fuck them, Prince. Cut off the dead weight and keep on truckin', you sexy bitch.


  20. Lucy Said,

    I'm way older than all of you and have no idea what Facebook is but -- DEFRIEND. First. Then maybe they'll think a little.


  21. Anonymous Said,

    so you do allow anonymous comments just not ones that don't agree with you? Cmon prince.


  22. To Anonymous Commenter (the most recent one):

    You'll notice that in many of my posts I've certainly allowed many comments that are contrary to my opinion or that are critical of something I've written. (So be careful of your blanket statements.) But, yeah, if I feel that you're a prick about it or that your dissent is mean-spirited, then I'll delete you.

    I'm guessing you're the one that left the only two comments I've deleted in, like, months.

    The first comment you left was in regard to a project that was not my own, and I didn't want to sap the high spirits of the multiple people who have ownership of said project; your smug criticism was not aimed at me but at the project as a whole--and I felt I needed to filter comments to protect the people who worked hard on it. In other words, critical comments should directed at me and not to friends or colleagues of mine because they never asked me to solicit feedback for them in this forum. You can surely understand that.

    Your second comment was such a shameless backhanded compliment. It seemed prick-ish. Thus, it got deleted. If it was not meant to come across that way, perhaps you should choose your words more carefully.

    Lastly, to suggest that I am unable to be accepting of disagreements is absurd. My evenhandedness, my ability to play devil's advocate, my ongoing effort to see things from different perspectives (that is the nature of a playwright), can be documented by anyone who knows me well.

    But there are a few issues--one being using a state Constitution to legislate discrimination against an entire class of people--that I cannot waver on. I mean, for example, it's quaint to try to understand the mind of a Holocaust denier, but after a certain point you just gotta throw up your arms and say, "You're fucking crazy!"

    As for you...the jury's still out.



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