Is it worth getting into political arguments on Facebook?
May 1, 2013 8:53 PM   Subscribe

I have this friend, we've known each other since we were five and I see her every time I go home. She helped me deal with my abusive ex and recently attended my grandad's funeral which was a difficult time. It's all good until she writes offensive, provocative stuff on FB and I feel like I don't know this person. Do I brush it to one side or engage with it? How would you deal with this?

(N.B. I normally live in a totally different continent from her, so this is a long-distance setup, we haven't lived near each other for fourteen years). She's been a great support to me and we had a TON of fun times together as teenagers. So it's all good until I check FB in the morning. Lately she's been posting a lot of racist/homophobic/politically insensitive statuses, and they are SO offensive it's hard not to respond. The last ones was:

"There are some people who really need to get over their sexuality. If you're gay, you're gay! If you're straight, you're straight! If you're bi, you're just bloody greedy like me ;) But stop going on like the world owes you something just because of who you choose to be intimate with. If you face homophobia then hold your head high but don't get all up in the faces of the people who don't actually care who you nosh just to highlight the fact, for the millionth time this week, you are gay. Sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is also nothing to be proud of either. You didn't achieve your sexuality, it wasn't awarded for good womb behaviour. So find something you should genuinely be proud about and I would be happy to see people bragging about that!"

The one before that was her rejoicing over preventing a Pakistani woman from getting at job at her company by arguing in favour of the white guy because '[racial slurs] are a pain in the arse, they don't join in, they can't go drinking and they don't speak english at work, you never know what they're saying about us."

There's a lot of stuff about benefit scroungers too, which I don't understand because she herself was off work on disability with depression for three years (?)

When I see this stuff I just despair. These opinions (and her actions at work) are actively lowering the quality of life for quite a few of my friends as well as members of my own family. They are SO offensive to me it plays on my mind for hours after I see them!

So my question is, what is the best plan of action here? Hide her posts but remain friends? Just ignore it, don't take the bait? (Her friends give her opinions a lot of support, she doesn't seem to be ruffling feathers by saying this stuff in her friendship group). Point out the flaws in her arguments in a polite way in the hopes of change, or will that lead to defensiveness and re-inforcing of her position? Does any good ever come of arguing on Facebook?
posted by everydayanewday to Human Relations (35 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Benefit of arguing - you can stop being one of those people giving silent approval to her shit and making her other friends think 'well it doesn't seem to be ruffling any feathers'. Also you don't have to be friends with someone horrifically bigoted.

Disadvantage - she's unlikely to change her mind. You might not get to stay friends with someone horrifically bigoted.
posted by jacalata at 8:58 PM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Don't be her friend anymore, on Facebook or in real life.
posted by decathecting at 8:58 PM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Arguing on Facebook is not likely to do a damned bit of good, no. I'd just hide her and if she for whatever reason asks why you didn't see something of hers, say "Oh, you post a lot of political stuff that I don't want to see, if you need to send me something just email me." But she probably won't, because people generally don't pay *that* much attention.

If you really want to address her opinions, do it to her face or in private - i.e. email - not in what is essentially a public venue in front of all of her friends. No one reacts positively to being called out in public.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:59 PM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

You're never going to change her mind. I have someone like this I went to high school with who posts cute cat pictures on my page, but otherwise has a lot of 2nd Amendment stuff and welfare cheat stuff. I think I commented on one thing during the US election that really got to me, and he posted on one of my things that really got to him, and we called it even.
The only issue we agree on is veterans' rights and benefits, which is pretty interesting.

But mostly I just hide his posts when I see things that are political from him on my feed, especially after the Boston bombings.

Just imagine for everyone like her there are millions of others whose pages you don't even see. You wouldn't have time to comment on millions of Facebook feeds all day, and it would make as much sense as commenting on hers trying to change her mind.
posted by sweetkid at 9:00 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is it ever worth arguing on facebook? No.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:01 PM on May 1, 2013 [16 favorites]

Best answer: My question is, why is she like that?

I have this friend I grew up with (also bi, relevant later) who has been teetering on the edge of the libertarian fringe for about ten years now. She is a little isolated now from everyone but her family members (who have the same politics), and most of her online circle is made up of people who agree with her opinions and theories.

The thing is, she had a very very rough upbringing in our town. She had a very difficult, stressful home life with very little money, in our affluent upper middle class town. She was treated by many of our classmates and their parents as an unwanted outsider with little value, who didn't belong. Her parents were excluded by the other parents. She was heavily bullied. She was a very smart girl with some anger//explosiveness and a lot of problems fitting in.

So now she's found a group of people who don't judge her, in fact they readily relate to her and they appreciate having her with them. And uh, these people are really into guns. So from time to time I will see statuses that make my jaw drop, like,

"Don't want me carrying my gun with me when I visit your home? Then don't fucking invite me. Asking me to leave my gun at the door is just like asking a gay person to leave their sexuality at the door. It's just as closed-minded, offensive, and bigoted. And I am sick of these stupid sheeple scared of their own shadows judging me, and rejecting me for being who I am! "

And then I see a string of comments from her libertarian friends whole-heartedly agreeing and saying the same thing!!

Yeah, so what do I do? She's unabashedly bi and has taken some shit for that over the years, so I feel like she has to know better.

But at the same time, I feel like I am kind of one of her last links to the mainstream world. If I shun her, then she really will be completely surrounded by her own echo chamber of people who will just agree with her, and that will just keep solidifying and it will be that much harder for anything to pierce through that worldview. I do not think it's a good thing for her to stop getting reality checks.

So I feel like the best thing for me to do is just be a gentle link back to the mainstream for her. I feel like I know how to respond to her in a way that might not be immediately discounted, because I understand why she says these kinds of things. She really has spent a lot of time in her life being attacked, judged, and rejected. I feel like I can say some things that she won't take that way, that are also very logical, that also challenge her. I don't do it every time I see a whopper of a status like that, because I would drive myself nuts, but sometimes I do, and sometimes I just ignore them. I'm not going to stop being her friend over it, though.
posted by cairdeas at 9:19 PM on May 1, 2013 [17 favorites]

"Hide all posts by ______."

Done and done.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:26 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am sorry, yes what she posted is offensive, but I thought you were going to say something MUCH more offensive. I do feel you. Although I would welcome a post like that from my family. I have very homophobic, sheltered, right-wing family on Facebook. (My aunt posted complaining that there is a "transgender" option on your doctor paperwork, and what has the world come to... like it somehow affects her life?) And she subscribes to any and all right-wing conspiracy theories.

So, me and my dad have pretty much decided, there is no arguing with crazy.

People who have and openly share opinions like that REALLY don't care about yours. If they did care about offending people, they won't post things that could be seen as offensive.

So my question is, what is the best plan of action here? Hide her posts but remain friends? Just ignore it, don't take the bait?

IF you want to be friends with her still, block her posts. You can view them on her page if you want to see what's up in her life, but they won't show up on your newsfeed.

IF you don't want to be friends with her, delete her. Sorry, but sometimes you grow out of friendships. As an adult you form strong political opinions. I have many friends who I had to delete because we didn't have much in common and I couldn't stand their political opinions. But that's up to you.

Also, realize some have it worse. I can't really remove my family without really hurting people. You can remove this friend.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:27 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, about this one:

Does any good ever come of arguing on Facebook?

It's never happened over Facebook or about anything political, but I've had a bunch of times in my life when I opened my mouth and expressed a really stupid opinion that I saw nothing wrong with, and had friends react in disbelief or horror. I still had this vivid memory of being 16, and I was telling one of my friends about something ... not nice that I was thinking of doing, and she just looked at me in a pained way and said, "Don't be that person." It really brought me up short and made me immediately check myself, and we never talked about it again but my opinion completely flipped around in that instant.

So I think when it comes to topics that nobody has ever challenged this person on before, that it might not even occur to this person that their friends could feel really differently about it, it can be pretty effective to say how you feel.
posted by cairdeas at 9:33 PM on May 1, 2013 [18 favorites]

Response by poster: My question is, why is she like that?

Yep, she's had a very very hard time. Dad died when she was five, mother died when she was seventeen. Before that her mother had several abusive partners, one of whom hospitalised her with broken ribs. They always seemed to be moving house in the middle of the night. Older boyfriends who sexually assaulted her when she wouldn't do what they asked. Married at 21 to a husband who slept with literally hundreds of people behind her back and trashed every computer she owned with viruses from his porn addiction. Her last two boyfriends have died. She left school at 16 so she doesn't have the benefit of having certain things debunked before they're even considered, as you do at university. So I DO know she's had a very, very difficult time. I try to be as kind in my thoughts towards her as possible. Her friendship group is all heavily into ghosts and conspiracy theories, and they all left school early too.

It's just hard to watch her being vicious to other people and lacking even basic compassion. I know a lot of it comes from fear and feeling threatened, but it's still hard to read.
posted by everydayanewday at 9:51 PM on May 1, 2013

I just unfriend people who post that kind of thing. If she asks why, tell her why.
posted by empath at 10:06 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My policy with people being terrible on Facebook is to call them up on the phone and have a civil, loving conversation with them. Facebook is an absolutely terrible venue for arguments - one-on-one conversation can potentially make someone see the human hurt that is caused by their words. When people argue in public, they tend to just get entrenched in their opinions.
posted by jennyjenny at 10:09 PM on May 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

I think this is a two parter.

1- Is it worth getting into political arguments with friends?
2- Is it worth getting into political arguments on Facebook?

Yes to question 1; No to question 2.

Just hide her posts and keep your fond memories.
posted by 26.2 at 10:20 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

racist friend song
posted by frequently at 10:25 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Don't humiliate her by arguing on Facebook but do communicate with her privately that you don't agree with these particular opinions of hers and why. Try to open a respectful dialog but make it less of a confrontation a more of a conversation.
posted by hazyjane at 10:26 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A few months ago I encountered a similar problem with a similar friend, and I took the, "OMG I AM SO EMBARRASSED FOR YOU WHEN YOU SAY RACIST STUFF" tack:

"Friend, I love you, and I enjoy hearing what you have to say about a lot of different topics. I cannot stand when you make racist comments and use racial slurs against people you and I know and I'm sort of at my wit's end about it because not only am I offended by what you say, I'm also really embarrassed about it because I'm so disappointed to be discovering that someone as wonderful as you could even remotely entertain these horrible, horrible things as being true. You are so much better than this kind of stuff, and when you say racist things, I have a hard time believing that you're the same person I've been friends with for all these years. It's like you're hell-bent on misrepresenting how awesome you are. Racist people aren't awesome though. Stop saying that stuff, okay? Don't say it on FB, don't say it in real life, don't believe it, don't spread it around."

And if your friend says no, drop her. Racist people are a waste of time and energy. YMMV.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:43 PM on May 1, 2013 [12 favorites]

Best answer: How to tell people they sound racist / homophobic / etc.
posted by aniola at 11:00 PM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

I ask myself one question: is what I'm about to do going to make a positive difference regarding an issue I care about? The answer is almost always resoundingly no when it comes to FB arguments. There are so many things I could do that make a real meaningful impact: volunteering, doing my job well, but fb isn't one of them.
posted by bananafish at 11:02 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I suggest addressing this in person or over the phone, not on Facebook. I think you may be doing her a favor to tell her that you love her, but the stuff she's saying is really cruel and awful. I'm not talking about arguing with her, more something on the order of telling her, "I know you're a good person, and you are better than that."

You can tell her that you won't condone that stuff, you won't read it on Facebook and you do not want hear it when you're together. You can treat it almost like an intervention. You know life has kicked her around and she has reason to be angry, but her anger is manifesting in shitty ways. If you can get through to her, maybe she'll actually take a look at who she's becoming.

How she responds to that will probably tell you if this friendship can be salvaged or not.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:06 PM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Wow, everydayanewday. My friend left school at 17 (she did get her GED eventually and attended a semester or two of community college, but that's it) and she married at 20.

The irony is, before she married her husband, whose politics were... (guess...) she was toying with the idea of becoming an ultraconservative Catholic, something that her parents were decidedly not! The love of her life had been a nice little Catholic boy from an upstanding family who rejected her for the nice, pretty little Catholic girl from an upstanding family who he idolized. My friend wanted to be respectable. She wanted to be respectable in the eyes of society at large and differentiate/distance herself from those who society deems not to be respectable. It was kind of etched into her psyche that to be a conservative Catholic was to be unassailably respectable.

It is terrifying to be on the receiving end of shunning from society, especially at a young age. It can turn you into a kind of desperate person, scratching at any way to survive, reaching for anything that might help you protect yourself, because you realize that if you're a pariah, people will watch you be harmed and they will do nothing to help. It can seem kind of ironic when someone who has experienced that is now shoving other people to the bottom, but I think sometimes it comes from deep terror. It's not that it makes it okay, I just think if you can recognize if it's happening that makes it easier to try to do something about it.

If there is any healthy way you can help build up your friend's sense of worth and belonging within mainstream society, she might gradually start feeling less of a need to shove others down. I think you might be able to help her find ways to belong and feel good without putting down other people.
posted by cairdeas at 11:19 PM on May 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

Gay thing - say nothing, you can't make someone not homophobic via a facebook argument.

Anecdote about racist action she specifically took, accompanied by racial slurs and bigotry - "Wow. That's really fucked up." No more, no less, no long speil trying to change what a bigot she is.

For the welfare stuff I'd be tempted to call her on it, but I will admit I'm not always the best behaved on Facebook.

Frankly, after seeing several things like this from her, I'd be tempted to hide her activity entirely, or just unfriend her. It sucks, I guess, but do you really want to be friends with someone like that? This seems like it goes beyond politics you disagree with, and beyond the horrid trend for liking gross stuff on facebook or posting/sharing awful things, straight up to her bragging about what a bigot she is out and about in her everyday life.

I have an uncle who lives overseas, and whose political beliefs are the polar opposite of mine. In the interest of being in touch with him at all, I tolerate his activity on my wall (though I hide it during elections) and don't start fights. However, he tends to add inflammatory comments to every liberal thing I post. Recently he posted some openly bigoted comments about Muslims on some of my posts, which I deleted and then sent him a note saying "Sorry I had to delete your thing, but I have Muslim friends and I won't have them seeing that garbage on my wall." He didn't take that well, to say the least, and next time I'll probably delete without explanation. I wish I had the nerve to delete/block him entirely, but he's family. What can you do?
posted by Sara C. at 11:48 PM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

The object of a political argument is not to change the minds of opponents, it's to influence the minds of the undecided.

It's also to tune the choir, so to speak. How will norms be perceived unless they are articulated? The out-of-tune guy can see (after a while and some self-assessment, usually missing) that he's out of step. Again, might not make him change, but will influence the influence-able, maybe, and can be used to bolster your creds and approach and/or argument on a specific topic or attitude.

I go back and forth. The scope of influence is small on facebook. Once you get over 10 friends, one is bound to be out of sync with the majority, and maybe it's you? It's a little different than Yahoo! posts, since it's not anonymous, and in those things, the sheer volume means you are unlikely to be heard/read at all. FB, however... at least it's between pseudo-friends.
posted by FauxScot at 3:46 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There are two situations.

1. The person is no big deal to you, an acquaintance that you recently ran into and became FB friends. This happened to me last year during the presidental election. He was a gay republican (I KNOW!) and posted the most annoying shit everyday on FB. At first I tried to comment in a non-confrontational way, "Gosh, I support the president," mostly to let him know that it wasn't all embraced. Then it escallated. So I de-friended him.

2. The person is a dear friend or family member and 90% of the time they're just fine, but whoo-boy, that last 10%... We have one of these, my husband's cousin. Despite our massive differences in religion and politics, I just love this guy. I'll let his wife's hourly bible verse go, I'll forgive the updates on his ministry, but I draw the line when he uses scripture to talk about anti-gay stuff. At first I'd ignored it because I thought saying something might upset my MIL. I was chuffed (to use the English expression) when she chimed in with "God made those children the way they are, you don't have any right to judge them." All in caps. It was beautiful. Now I respond as kindly as possible, with similar sentiments. "Now Danny, if gays marry, how does it hurt you?" (I leave out the part about his 4 marriages, but trust me, I may bring it up if it goes further.)

I think a non-confrontational voice of dissent is better than a flame war. One line that says, "I disagree." Do it enough and she may tone down. If she doesn't, hide her updates.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:52 AM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think cairdeas' approach of being a "gentle link back to the mainstream" has a lot of merit.
posted by Dansaman at 6:12 AM on May 2, 2013

I've gotten into a couple of big spats with a really close friend over political differences - once on Facebook, once in person. (For a change of pace - I'm the more conservative one in this instance - this guy is a huge progressive/Green Party activist, who every so often will just rail against Obama with great vitriol). We've gone on to hug it out both times, and just made a pact that this was something we simply couldn't talk about together for the sake of peace, because he thinks what he thinks and I think what I think and that isn't going to change. So I usually just roll my eyes and sigh when I see one such post now (although, to be fair, I also do that when he gets obsessive about Duke university basketball, albeit for differnet reasons).

If someone isn't a close personal friend, it may be worth just dropping them from your feed. Either way - it really doesn't do all that much.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:17 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not homophobic to say "I don't care about whether you're straight or gay, and I don't care at all about your problems." (Which basically sounds to me like what she is saying.) It's a bit callous and certainly not compassionate, but compassion for strangers isn't always an evolutionary advantage. In fact, in some cases, it can be decidedly disadvantageous. Your friend sounds like she has had a hard life: how often have people shown compassion to her? If your expectation is that she has to show compassion to the rest of the world without any expectation that the rest of the world returning it, then from her perspective you're basically telling her that you refuse to be her friend unless she becomes a sucker who is willing to be taken advantage of. That will not end well.

I recognize your friend's behavior because I had a similar upbringing growing up poor and in a bad neighborhood, with a sociopathic dad. Consequently, feeling compassion for a stranger is not something that triggers automatically for me - it is a conscious decision I make after making a quick evaluation of that person's potential threat level and also the likelihood that they would feel compassion for me in similar circumstances. I know that the Golden Rule is supposed to be "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you," but for people who grow up worried about their survival the rule often changes into "Do onto others as you suspect they would do onto you." If you show her that the world is a loving place, then she will slowly become more loving. But if you just tell her that she needs to become more loving, then she will probably react negatively.

Also, when you argue politics with a friend, always do it in person. It makes it easier for you to see when they're getting upset so you can de-escalate as needed.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:47 AM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have a dear friend who is very different online. We come from the same liberal side of the political spectrum but the way she argues a point often just...doesn't do "our side" any favours, if that makes sense. Drives me nuts. And she lives far away so seeing her in person is hard, but I love the living daylights out of her and can't not be friends with her. But online...yikes.

I have learnt my lesson about arguing points online. It just doesn't translate and things get icky. It'll be hard enough to debate an issue in person, online is a recipe for disaster and is less likely to bring your friend to your way of thinking. Now my friend didn't have a hard life relatively, and she's a happy person, just online she says stuff in ways that rile me up.

In your situation you may be riled up enough to need to express your issue. That's fine. If you don't express it the frustration you feel in this online context it could bleed over IRL. So it's okay to tell her (I think) that you disagree with her/have issue with the way she expresses her opinion online, but you absolutely have to talk it out in person. If it's a while before you see her, I would mute the posts until you do. If it gets to you for hours after reading her stuff, then it's only going to make you crazy before you can have a regular conversation with her. If you have a go online it'll make her run in the opposite direction.

And cairdeas is spot on about the isolation/echo chamber thing. It is so easy to live in a bubble of our own making, and I want to be a link out of her bubble as much as I want a link out of my bubble through her. You can't do that (I've learned) through that kind of public argument.
posted by mooza at 7:06 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with those who say you won't change her mind, and in fact, you'll probably just annoy her if you argue. But there is at least a small chance that you can persuade her to stop talking politics on Facebook. You could remind her (privately) of the old taboo against discussing religion and politics at dinner parties. Facebook is, after all, an unending dinner party. I would suggest to her that by posting these opinions, she'll limit her circle of friends to those who agree with her harsh politics, and alienate everyone else, including you. This may not be a problem for her. It very well may not work. But I'd give it a try.
posted by markcmyers at 7:14 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would think hard about whether I'd want to stay friends with someone who says and does things like that. Her celebrating over keeping that woman from being hired... that is seriously terrible and I wouldn't really want to associate with them. I'm a firm believer that you are only as good as your worst friend. You are going to get tarred with the same brush because people are going to think that you probably approve of what she is saying and doing (or at least don't find it objectionable). Because, after all, we generally don't choose to associate with people who we find offensive and hurtful and insulting... right? Your reputation being affected aside, I just wouldn't want to be around someone who was frequently upsetting me and doing things that I felt were terrible.

If you do want to remain friends, I would hide her entirely from facebook. If she ever finds out ("what do you mean you didn't know my cat died! It was on facebook!") I would just say, "I actually removed your facebook from my news feed. You were posting a lot of things that were really upsetting to me, so rather than creating a big drama over it I just hid it so that I won't be upset by/with you any more."

FWIW, I had a friend who was lovely and supportive and fun, and we were friends for a long time. She helped me through some rough periods and we had a lot of good times. However, she relished in sleeping with married men and men in relationships. I always tried to ignore it, I'd ask her not to talk to me about it and she did a moderate job of not going on about her latest conquest to me. I am someone who believes that marriage is a thing to be respected. At the time I was in love with a married friend of mine and never ONCE did I consider hitting on him or dropping hints. She, however, kept pushing me to do exactly that, saying how I should make a move on him, justifying it by saying his marriage to his wife was an unhappy one. I found her frequent suggestions that I seduce a married man disgusting. I was able to put it out of my mind by convincing myself that she just wanted me to be happy since she knew I was in love with him...

But then she started sleeping with a man whose wife had just been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It actually was the father of another man she slept with a few months earlier. She made little effort to hide the fact that they were sleeping together from his family. She didn't particularly care that the man's wife was basically dying and that she was ruining a dying woman's marriage, she justified it by saying that they had been rocky before hand. And she didn't care about the hurt and upset and confusion it no doubt caused the man's son that she had slept with.

That was pretty much it for me. All the kindness and caring and support that she had shown me over the course of our friendship, all the fun times and inside jokes and stories we had together... it just wasn't enough to offset the fact that I felt what she was doing was absolutely terrible.

I friendship divorced her and haven't looked back.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:29 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, no, it is never worth it to get in to political arguments on Facebook. It never ends well and it never results in anyone changing their stance. It just makes everyone look like idiots and creates a lot of drama and hurt feelings.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:35 AM on May 2, 2013

posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:22 AM on May 2, 2013

I've done it both ways. I DeFriended one poster I've known for several years because of his unrelenting, spam-like crap. Mostly he just forwarded propaganda stuff, which I considered too lazy, even for his ilk. I kept a Snopes URL handy just for him, but he never bothered with it.

Yet, another friend, who posts similar stuff gets a different read from me. Now and then I think of a short, but civil, rebuttal to something she posts, but I don't engage in a back and forth argument with her. I don't believe I'll ever change her views, or even affect them much. She's impervious to reason, and she ignores any information that doesn't agree with her views.

I owe it to myself, not the cause, to stay aware of the wing-nuts in the opposite camp, but I have to apply my own values: they have the same access to the net as do I, and the same freedom to express themselves as I have. Ignoring them is not the answer, but finding a way to keep their nuttiness from making me babble and spit is the proper challenge, which I address, but I pick my responses carefully, and don't get into running shootouts. I don't owe her anything.

It helps me to keep in mind that I'm no more likely to agree with her than she with me. If you think about it, we all have blind spots and goofy assumptions making up our snow-flakey little paradigms, so it's good to not get cocky about our worldviews. Please understand that I in no way mean to criticize you or your opinions.

The key issue is how you want to use your facebook. If your friend's posts give you the blues, then DeFriend her, and maybe even DeFriend everyone who doesn't go along with they way you want your facebook to work. It's your page. You can always find a chatroom or BB that lets folks air out their issues.

Slight sidetrack, just for the sake of nuance....: I used to inhabit a free-style BB, but I got tired of the wear and tear, so I quit it. The ministrations of MeFi's beloved moderators seem to strike a good balance for me. They are somewhat tight-assed, but not overly zealous, and they don't get too huffy when you spitball them.
posted by mule98J at 10:26 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I recognize that someone who has had a very hard life may not readily feel empathy and compassion for others, but nobody's doing your friend any favors by letting her carry on making a fool of herself. And she's certainly not going to learn how to feel empathy and compassion unless someone shows her what that looks like and why it's important. So far, it sounds like she's only received positive reinforcement for her bigoted beliefs and behaviors. Sure, saying something to her runs the risk of further alienating her, but saying absolutely nothing guarantees that she'll keep going further and further off down the rabbit hole of ignorance.

I'm especially stricken by her boast about the Pakistani woman. That was a straight up vicious thing she did, that directly targeted one person and negatively impacted their life. This was an action she took deliberately, not mere words. It's not a huge leap from that to bullying and creating a hostile work environment for other minority colleagues that she'd like to have gone.

I wouldn't engage her in a public debate, but I'd let her know with a private message or phone call that you're really disappointed to see such bigoted ideas coming from her, and that you care very much about her and would be happy to share another point of view about x topic with her in person, but can't continue to be friends with her if she keeps on posting things that are hurting you and others you care about. Let her see that her words can have real life negative consequences that affect her.
posted by keep it under cover at 10:27 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

I get into it more than I should on facebook, but make my rule that I make two comments and leave it at that — one to lay out my position, one to rebut arguments. If I do it like that instead of thinking of it as an ongoing conversation, the other person tends to look like an ass and their friends will call 'em out on that too.

On the other hand, I'm also not above just dropping The Specials and walking away.
posted by klangklangston at 1:11 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I feel like a lot of the answers in this question apply here. Like mine.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 3:25 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older E-books to get me through a long spell in the...   |   What interesting use can I make of two old... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.