Should I call out my friend for racially insensitive Facebook posts?
December 8, 2014 1:08 PM   Subscribe

The Ferguson incident has of course sparked many reactions from people. Facebook makes it easy for people to share images, articles, and thoughts related to their views on the incident. One of my best friends (since middle school) has been sharing things lately that skirt the boundaries of tolerance for me. I'm uncertain as to the best way to respond to her, or if I should even respond at all. Her latest share on Facebook was offensive to me, and shows a lack of sensitivity and understanding of the real things black Americans are fighting for.

I'm a black American, and she's a white American. I grew up in a middle class family and don't meet many of the common stereotypes people have about black people. I associate with people of all races (most of my friends aren't even my same race), but don't feel like I have a "tribe" that I belong to.

For as long as I can remember, my family and I have been made to feel like we need to "explain ourselves" or why we don't act like "this" or like "that". We've dealt with this from people of all races. No matter how well I or anyone in my family does, career- or otherwise, there will always be that layer of extra issues and struggles to deal with due to our skin color.

Ever since I've known my friend, she's been halfway racist / oblivious to the real struggles of black people and people of color in general. She never says outright racist things, but the things she says are more subtle. For example, when we first met in middle school, she asked if I was related to another friend of hers who was black (with the same name as me) but went to a different school. I later saw a picture of that girl and we look no more alike than two white girls with the same skin/hair color.

Another example: 7 years ago, after 10 years of being friends, she confessed that she never really saw me as "black", she'd always considered me "white".

I commended her for at least admitting that and letting me know how she felt. I never condemned her or debated with her or picked a fight. She's a republican and I'm a democrat yet that never caused any rift in our friendship. We have enough other things in common that we were able to be good friends and have fun together despite our differing political beliefs. I quickly learned to avoid the subject of race with her, and most of the time it never comes up. It's been an area where we "agree to disagree".

Until Facebook. Everyone has the right to post and share what they want. She's posted/shared a ton of images with captions on them that bash the president, etc, tons of things I don't agree with. That doesn't bother me and I ignore them. But ever since Ferguson, she's been posting things that are crossing my line of tolerance. I responded to only one of her posts, with an explanation of the struggles I personally have had as a black American. I kept my tone friendly and straightforward, without using blanket statements. She did not respond to or acknowledge my comment, which I get. We're trying to stay friends, and I don't have the energy or time to debate her.

Last night she shared an image with a caption that I found offensive: "White Irish slaves were treated worse than any other race in the US. When is the last time you heard an Irishman bitching & moaning about how the world owes them a living?" I find this offensive to my personal experiences living as a black American, on so many levels. It cuts me at the core. It was all I could do not to respond directly to the post, but I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning.

I woke up this morning and I'm still upset about it. If she had not been one of my best friends, I would have unfriended her right away.

I'm very confused. We have been having some great Facebook exchanges lately, about how we miss each other, how we're looking forward to being reunited in person in our hometown when we're both home for the holidays, and we love to talk about our cats.

But it's going to be a little hard for me to have an in-person reunion with her with this at the back of my mind.

Should I say something to her privately, about how I found that image offensive? I don't expect her to change her beliefs. I don't want to argue or debate, especially not publicly. I just want her to know how that made me feel, and to warn her that I might have to hide her posts from my newsfeed if she continues. I don't need that kind of negative energy in my life. We can still be friends, but I want her to know that this is a boundary for me. I'm tolerant of differing political views, but I won't tolerate racism.

But am I being too sensitive? Should I just let it go? I tried to imagine how I'd feel if she came to me about something I posted. I don't post much on Facebook, but when I do, I've never posted anything that makes general claims/negative statements about any race of people. Still, if she were to say that she found something I posted offensive, I'd remove it right away, or at least change my privacy settings so she doesn't see them. I'm not asking her to do any of those things. I just want to inform her how that post, and other ones like it, made me feel pretty shitty.
posted by starpoint to Human Relations (37 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Do you see her in person? Do you talk to her on the phone? If not, she's not really a friend, she's a person you know on a Facebook feed. Don't conflate the amount of time you've known her with what a true friend is.

I would speak to her and say, "You post a lot of things on Facebook that I find offensive. I'm going to block you from my feed for awhile because I'm having problems reconciling the racist posts with the kind and loving person that I know."

Go ahead and unfriend her. You'll find that you don't miss the racist, conservative shit she posts and consequently, you don't miss her.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:13 PM on December 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

Unfriend and block. Life's too short to deal with assholes on Facebook, especially if they're racist pigs.
posted by starbreaker at 1:13 PM on December 8, 2014 [17 favorites]

You've been waaay more patient with her over the years than I would have been. You might post a sensible, calm comment beneath her post explaining why the post is offensive. If she doesn't get it, I don't think she's worth the trouble.
posted by LauraJ at 1:17 PM on December 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

We were very good friends in middle school and high school, continuing to after college. We don't live in the same town now and don't talk on the phone, but we continue our friendship through Facebook. She's always posted things on my timeline about how she values our friendship. I feel that it's genuine. That's what's confusing me so much. I think she is able to look past race with me, but she still has racist viewpoints that she picked up from her family (which she even admitted at one point).

We've been looking forward to hanging out in person again over the holidays. If we lived in the same town, we'd see each other more often. So she's not just a "Facebook friend" so to speak. Our friendship preceded Facebook.
posted by starpoint at 1:18 PM on December 8, 2014

Yikes. I'd unfriend. I unfriend on FB for stuff like this all the time and I don't regret it. It makes FB far more pleasant. At a minimum, hide her.

As for the friendship, well, it's your choice whether you want to see her for superficial get-togethers where you chat about cats and what-not. But, she's shown you who she really is, so it's up to you to decide whether you want to spend time with her. It's not your job to educate her or try to coax her out of her bigotry and ignorance. If she asks you why you're distant, I would have no qualms about telling her that her racism is hurtful and offensive to you. And, if she's as mortified as she should be, have a book suggestion for her so that she can start realizing that she needs to stop being part of the problem.

You are not being too sensitive. And, I don't think that you should let it go. This is 100% awful and unacceptable.
posted by quince at 1:20 PM on December 8, 2014 [14 favorites]

Well, I unfriend relatives who post things I find offensive, never mind long-ago jr high classmates -- if that makes you feel any better. (Some of these are cousins who I can imagine spouting that idiotic quip about the Irish.)

As far as explaining why you found the post offensive before unfriending, it's my experience that many people who post incendiary opinions take reasonable replies as picking a fight and immediately escalate the exchange to become even more offensive. (I guess if the person was a particularly good friend once, you might give them the opportunity to prove they're an exception to this rule, but I've stopped doing this.)
posted by aught at 1:21 PM on December 8, 2014

@starpoint, I don't care if you two went to war together and she took a bullet for you. If your only contact with her is through Facebook, and she has a habit of posting offensive shit on Facebook, unfriend and block. If you feel obligated to do so, give her an alternate means of contacting you in private, but don't put up with racist shit in your feed because it comes from a "friend".

I wouldn't, just as I don't tolerate homophobia or anti-atheist sentiment.
posted by starbreaker at 1:23 PM on December 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

You're not being too sensitive.

I think it's worth sending her a private message (or however you usually communicate) letting her know that you feel hurt when she posts comments, articles, or images that stereotype black people. How I'd proceed from there would depend on her response.
posted by jaguar at 1:24 PM on December 8, 2014 [9 favorites]

You don't have to unfriend.

Just unfollow. Her posts wont show up in your feed, and when you feel like taking a peek to see how she's doing, you can.

I've got a bunch of friends and relatives that are unfollowed. I'm just not that into dealing with their crap, even though I do like to see pictures of their kids and that they are doing otherwise OK.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:27 PM on December 8, 2014 [28 favorites]

But am I being too sensitive? Should I just let it go?

I'd say no and no, but this is a thing I think people disagree on tactically, what to do.

I have some lovely friends in town who are also Republicans and sometimes they repeat Republican talking points that they may not have considered closely. I usually try to engage them in a "You know that sounds sort of racist/sexist..." way about it. That said, I'm not usually of the race they might be talking about and it's an easier discussion for me to have. I'd say you are within your rights to just block/unfriend, or otherwise if you want to interact I'd try something like "Look you say you value my friendship but things like this are directly offensive to me as a black person and I'm not sure if you don't understand that or don't care but either way it's troubling" and then, as jaguar suggests, let what she does from there determine what you do next. I'm sorry you have to deal with that, it sucks in any case.
posted by jessamyn at 1:27 PM on December 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

Unfriend her now. Meet her over the holidays and tell her how hurt you are by her posts. If you can't talk about this with her, you're not really friends.

I have people on my Facebook I've known since middle school, but they're contacts, not real friends. A real friend wouldn't make you this uncomfortable.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

You are not being overly sensitive. She is being overly clueless at best. I would hide her from my timeline, if I were you, and I would have a chat with her face-to-face over the holidays to tell her why you had to hide her posts. You might try a private message but IME difficult conversations can get out of hand quickly over email/ IM/ text.
posted by tuesdayschild at 1:32 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

With people like this, I unfollow.

I save unfriending for people of which I'm pretty sure I never want to have contact with ever again, in any medium.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:39 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think it's worth having a conversation with her before you permaban her. She's thoughtlessly parroting what she hears and getting some pushback will be useful to her.

Personally, I would email her or call her, have a conversation, and then put her on Ignore for a while. I only block people for really egregious stuff that's directed at me personally, and for me this wouldn't qualify (yet).

I like knowing what other people are saying and I like being the person with the data to demolish stupid, racist memes. (I don't bother with the religious ones, or the Obama-is-a-secret-gay-Muslim ones). Even if that person disagrees, the other people reading the posts get the data.

They live in a right wing bubble. A lot of my IRL friends live in a left-wing bubble, and it would be very easy for me to do so, too. It's really easy to demonize the other side when you aren't rubbing shoulders with them. I have found that it really takes the rhetoric down a notch when they start posting "liberalism is a mental disease" or whatever and I chime in and say "you realize you're talking about me, right?" They forget that there are living, feeling, THINKING people, not just a herd of THEMS. (And so does my left wingy when they start saying that all right wingers/ Christians/whomever are idiots or ignorant or whatever).

We have this discussion pretty frequently on metafilter, and my shoulder-rubbing, greater-society philosophies aren't the majority opinion here, but there you go anyway, for posterity!

In addition, I would look upon advice given by white folks with extreme skepticism. True. And I'm white, for the record.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:40 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

I do not think you are being too sensitive AT ALL, and I also think that you should honestly and clearly tell your friend that you find some of her recent posts offensive. Maybe you could do this by calmly rebutting her latest post in the comments on that thread. Link to information that supports your case. If her friendship is important to you because of your long history together, I say, state your case, and give her a chance to change her mind. If she listens to you and changes her view, you and she will have made the world a little bit better by having this conversation. If she doesn't, then you can choose to try to change her mind again another day, cut ties if you need to for the sake of sanity, or let her be the one to break things off if she can't deal with being told she crossed a line.
posted by BlueJae at 1:41 PM on December 8, 2014

I have a lot of relatives who tend to run off at the mouth about shit like this, and usually I convince myself that I should stay friends with them on social media, because they're family, and blah blah blah. And then I do a delicate song and dance about hiding certain posts and whether to respond or ignore and what tone to take.

But the thing about the "Irish slaves" that offended you? That would probably be the straw that broke the camel's back for me. And I'm white, and I'm referring to unfriending a parent or a sibling.

Some middle school friend? Fuck that. Drop like a hot rock.

If I gave any sort of warning and did not immediately just drop her forever, I would probably comment under the picture in question: "This is highly disturbing* to me, and not something I ever want to see on my Facebook feed."

*I'd avoid use of the word 'offensive' because I think everyone says things are offensive all the time and doesn't really mean much by it. This seems bigger than 'offensive' to you, if you're still angry about it the next day.
posted by Sara C. at 1:43 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition, I would look upon advice given by white folks with extreme skepticism. There is well established sociological evidence to support the idea that their experiences will be very different from yours (as a black American) if you do in fact reach out to this friend and confront her to any degree, please have shields up and be wary that your race difference will likely be used against you.

As a white folk giving advice, I absolutely agree. I, personally, would actually just unfriend her and write her off, but you seem very committed to keeping the relationship. Because of that fact, I do think saying something is the only step available for you to invest in the relationship, but I unfortunately suspect it will go badly.

But I also think that pretending her racism doesn't bother you will poison the relationship going forward, too, and a person who is saying shitty things about you and who keeps saying shitty things even after you've asked them to stop is not actually a friend.
posted by jaguar at 1:45 PM on December 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

If you want to stay friends with her, I would stop letting her racist posts go unanswered.

Right now, she gets the benefit of being friends with you (I'm not racist, I have a black friend) while also getting the benefit of being able to say/share hateful things without needing to feel bad about it.

My background is pretty similar to yours, and I've ended up with some Facebook acquaintances who have let it be known that I'm "not that kind of black person," so I'm ok. And it's really not ok. If anything, it's worse than purely ignorant racism because they have actual proof that their stereotypes are not true but somehow exception proves the rule and other such nonsense.

I think you need to decide to either unfriend her (with the IRL social consequences that that entails), OR (and it sounds like this would be the preferred option for you, because you do care about this person) you need to prepare yourself for a long and possibly ugly conversation with her in which you explain why her post(s) bother you so much. I would do it in a private message or email (no need to bring all of her racist friends -- or your anti-racist friends for that matter -- into the mix).

Based on her reaction to your conversation (in which you'll do things like use Jay Smooth's "that thing you said was racist" type language), you can decide if you still want to try to be friends with this person. If she takes your concerns seriously, there is hope... yay! She might still screw up from time to time but at least least maybe she'll try to think through her beliefs a little better. I might move to answering problem posts more publicly at this point.

It's also entirely possibly however that she'll just blow you off. And if she does, well, it doesn't sound like she's very much of a good friend.

Good luck to you.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:45 PM on December 8, 2014 [13 favorites]

That's what's confusing me so much. I think she is able to look past race with me, but she still has racist viewpoints that she picked up from her family (which she even admitted at one point).

Another example: 7 years ago, after 10 years of being friends, she confessed that she never really saw me as "black", she'd always considered me "white".

No, I don't think she has been able to look past race with you. I think she thinks of you "as a white person, only with a different color of skin." In fact, she told you exactly that: She views you as white.

She has no understanding of the ways in which your lives are deeply different and always will be. She is unlikely to ever understand it. She seems to not even be trying.

I have said and done some really dumbass, clueless things as a white woman and the reactions of blacks were informative and growth producing. Those relationships tended to not recover, but I was enlightened. Form my side, I sometimes wished I could have gotten some understanding for the fact that I wasn't being intentionally offensive. I just honestly did not understand because my life was insulated from knowledge.

I try to keep that in mind when dealing with, for example, men saying really dumbassed things to me about women, equal rights, etc. If it is someone important to me personally, I do try to communicate with them that I don't agree with them, I think they have no idea what they are talking about and so on. If they are completely unwilling to grow in that regard and they just dig in their heels and give me pushback, that is when I decide "No, you aren't merely someone with a blindspot because privilege has denied you the chance to see this. You are, in fact, a sexist pig." And that's where I draw the line.

So, if it were me, I would try to discuss it privately and tell her how you feel. If she isn't even willing to so much as hear how you feel, then I think she isn't really a friend.

I have promptly ended some friendships when they said or did something I found egregiously offensive. I don't think it is unreasonable to make such choices.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 1:46 PM on December 8, 2014 [10 favorites]

I wouldn't confront her, or try to say anything like, "how can you think these things and still consider yourself my friend?" I agree with kalessin that route has the potential to get very ugly. Then you'd have to add the personal pain of being directly abused by her, to the fact that you already know she's comfortable being wide open about her racism.

Your friendship with this person is already over. There's a blowout argument waiting for you if you want to have it. But why do that to yourself? I wish I could say that she has a good chance of really listening to you and changing her ways. But she doesn't. I don't see why you have to put yourself in the line of fire either through her public posts on Facebook, or through the inevitably horrible shit she will say to you if you try to discuss this. It's almost a given she will make the conversation about how awful you are, to be SOOO MEAN.

She doesn't deserve your time or friendship. The most is do in this situation is comment, "wow, fuck this" and block her.
posted by Coatlicue at 1:47 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the way I tend to approach these situations is to start with some variation of, "This isn't really true to my personal experience in these matters."

People make a lot of assumptions about their own ability to empathize or comprehend the life experiences of others and, while it's not going to change their mind immediately, planting the seed of the idea that their human experience isn't the universal experience is a start.

From there, it'd be a question of how she responds, and whether she's open to hearing your experiences and views. Some people immediately become defensive, which isn't what you want. But if you can find some common ground, even if it's as simple as her posting less garbage, it's a start.
posted by mikeh at 1:48 PM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Your friendship with this person is already over. How so? If she's completely unteachable, then maybe, but we haven't established this yet, have we?
posted by small_ruminant at 1:49 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

You're not being too sensitive. This important to you and a lot of other people.

There's a really exceptionally interesting (at least, to me) paper I once read about 'doing racism.' A quote about what it's about 'racializing discourses are introduced as unmarked in a conversation, the coparticipant is put in a position of having to readily agree or openly disagree—with the second option endangering face."

Not that that's what you're doing.

The article - Unmarked Racializing Discourse

I think you should talk your talk, if you're comfortable enough.
posted by Rams at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

You aren't overreacting.

I think, as an alternative to just unfriending and/or hiding her from your feed (which I agree is completely justified, but I do also understand why you sometimes keep someone who posts abhorrent things) is to leave one comment where you say...well, basically what you've said here, minus the advice-seeking parts. That being from a middle-class background hasn't shielded you from the effects of racism, that you're hurt and confused by her posts, that you value your friendship and don't want to get enmeshed in a debate, but that this stuff hurts you, deeply. If you think you're up for it, offer to discuss it with her privately, but make it clear that you are not interested in engaging in this on Facebook. Then remove the post from your activity and take a walk.

Hopefully, if she's just kind of cluelessly sharing things that she hasn't really thought deeply about (unfortunately common), this will be a wake-up call for her. If she's really invested in this shit, then it won't be, but you'll have registered your disappointment.
posted by kagredon at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't understand any of this.

She's your friend, right? Did you ever talk to her about what your experience is concerning race? Directly and from your personal perspective??

If not, please do so.

If you have talked to her and she still doesn't "get it," then she's not your friend.

BTW, unarmed citizens killed by armed authorities is EVERYONE'S problem. There is a racial component, but people who don't concern themselves with race are naturally aghast and politically outraged that any fellow citizen was "legally" gunned down while unarmed.

I think what I'm saying is that maybe your friend is kinda an asshole on another level entirely, and the racial aspect is just a distraction.
posted by jbenben at 2:02 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, I'm not demeaning your experience as a person of color. Just the opposite.

I'm questioning why your friend is so stupid that she innately thinks she's somehow different than the people of Ferguson or any other community or population (so, all of us) affected by tragedy and injustices.

This person just seems really shallow. I think this FB thing is a symptom that you've outgrown her.
posted by jbenben at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2014

I've had some very interesting conversations with people who posted things that really pushed my buttons by asking them questions. I might open with, "You posted a picture with the caption X. Do you really agree with that?" And the conversation might continue with me saying, "What makes you think that? Have you had some experience with this issue?" "It sounds like you're frustrated with Y. Do you have to deal with that a lot?" "It seems to me that you're saying Z. Do I understand you correctly?" This follows principles of Nonviolent Communication. The techniques seem corny, and the book is extremely corny (skip all the poems; I am not joking) but the principles are pretty amazing when you put them to work, and they have showed the common ground between me and people I thought I had no points of agreement with, and provided a way to gently challenge some problematic beliefs.

However, I'm coming from a position of significant privilege, having a white racial background and usually significantly more education than the people I'm conversing with. This probably makes the conversation emotionally easier for me.

And, if someone I was following posted the image you described, and I wasn't very, very fond of them and convinced that they were a very good person who might have some strange lacunae in their education, I would unfollow or unfriend them.
posted by BrashTech at 2:15 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

You're not too sensitive. I actually think that casual, subtle racism is, in a way, worse than outright saying you dislike a certain race because it makes it so hard to argue with and if you try, you're just "too sensitive".

I would try to call her out, maybe link her a good article. If she doesn't get it - I personally wouldn't want to interact with her anymore. I mean, is she really on your side?
posted by LoonyLovegood at 2:25 PM on December 8, 2014

I can appreciate that you might not feel like being forced into being a spokeperson for black people, or being dragged into painful discussions that will only expose how deeply your friend is gripped by a poisonous ideology, when she's been an important part of your life. That might well involve multiple losses; the loss of the friendship, as well as a breakdown in your sense of your own personal history - because long-term friendships do help us make sense of ourselves - and maybe, a more general loss of trust in people. I can see why you might feel reluctant. I don't see a way out of it, though - there's hurt, whether you hold it in or air it out. Maybe telling her would relieve you of some part of what goes along with holding it in.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:26 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't want to argue or debate, especially not publicly. I just want her to know how that made me feel, and to warn her that I might have to hide her posts from my newsfeed if she continues.

These are the most mature, sensitive, and thoughtful words that have been posted on this thread, and you wrote them. Trust your instincts. Your only obligation is to do what's right for you.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 2:31 PM on December 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

Thank you everyone for all of your replies, they're all very helpful. I have decided to send her a private message to let her know how those posts affect me, and to inform her that I won't tolerate racism (or any type of discrimination). Where it goes from there depends on how she responds. If she gets angry or ignores my message altogether, I'll hide her from my newsfeed, and bring it up with her when she contacts me about getting together for the holidays.
posted by starpoint at 2:59 PM on December 8, 2014 [14 favorites]

But am I being too sensitive?

Not at all.

Should I just let it go?

No, and I'm glad that you didn't. As far as I can see, there are really only two realistic choices here. 1) unfriend and block, because life is too short to waste your time on racist idiots, or 2) if you can, if you have some influence on that person, use to it show them how their racist attitudes hurt you and others, because if you don't, who will? But that is a difficult and draining thing to do.

Personally, I really appreciate that you seem to have taken option 2, even though it's the harder choice. I hope it works out for you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:06 PM on December 8, 2014

1. She has been misleading you for a long time.
2. You're not going to change her.
3. Drop her.
posted by LonnieK at 5:11 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

7 years ago, after 10 years of being friends, she confessed that she never really saw me as "black", she'd always considered me "white".

Translation: Black people are [insert your favorite stereotype here]. You don't meet that stereotype, therefore you are not black. She has basically no true Scotsman black person'd your race away. Maybe she meant this harmlessly, but the implicit subtext is disturbing.

I'm a white woman so I can only imagine how you must feel; the only analogy I can think of is if I had a male friend who posted misogynistic things on Facebook about women, yet assured me that he saw me as a dude. Nope nope nope. I wouldn't consider him a friend anymore and would immediately unfollow him if not block him altogether.
posted by gatorae at 8:28 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ever since I've known my friend, she's been halfway racist / oblivious to the real struggles of black people and people of color in general

Why is she your friend? You're not being too sensitive - but the very fact that you've put up with a half-way racist "friend" for so long is worrisome. There are other people of all backgrounds who are not racially stupid. Go befriend one of those people.
posted by Gray Skies at 9:04 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Right now, she gets the benefit of being friends with you (I'm not racist, I have a black friend)

i think this hits the nail on the head. i think you're more invested in her as a person in your friendship and she's more invested in you as a symbol of her supposed color-blindness. i'm sorry she's so shitty, you don't need friends like that. i hope you have a good time over the holidays with people who value you and your experiences.
posted by nadawi at 9:17 PM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Growing up you had tons in common: shared academic experiences, mutual friends, concurrent life milestones (puberty/driving/graduating/choosing colleges, etc).

You are older now and the only things you share in common are your mutual pasts -- and now apparently divergent futures.

I think you should unfollow her now and have a discussion with her (if you can manage it alone) face-to-face.

It will make things less confrontational, more honest... Maybe more painful too? But if you unfriend her she will notice. Unfollowing won't notify her (I think). If you don't want to have a talk, fine.

But disappearing may lead to gossip or her prejudices growing stronger over time, I think. It sucks and nobody likes these situations, it really just depends on how much you value your current friendship -- not the one you cemented in middle school, which is now powered only by nostalgia.

I would give the same advice about sexual identity/religious intolerance as well, though. People seeing your fundamental identity as an extreme outlier doesn't help foster empathy for others, but confrontation sucks.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:26 PM on December 8, 2014

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