For the past year I’ve seen people on social media threaten to unfriend anyone who supports our president-elect. I’m a huge fan of the First Amendment, which means free speech for everyone, even people I don’t agree with. But this is not about free speech. It’s about actual friendship, what I expect from my friends, what they expect from me, and what we are willing to overlook. Most of my real-life friends and most of my Facebook friends have a lot in common politically; nearly everyone I know identifies as somewhere on the spectrum of “liberal,” or at least, “not conservative.” I have friends who vote Democrat, friends who vote Republican, friends who vote third party. I disagree with a lot of my friends on a lot of things. Disagreement can make things awkward, but it often leads to insight and in-jokes. Hatred and deliberate ignorance, on the other hand, are unacceptable.
As of this writing I have 129 friends on Facebook – not a lot, but more than I’ll have tomorrow. Many are family, immediate or extended, who are also close friends. Some Facebook friends are people I know in real life. A few I’ve never met in person and know through my time on the air at WMPG or through other friends. I’ve known most of my real life friends for 10, 20, or more than 30 years. I consider them a gift and a blessing. Some of my recent friends are people I’m very happy to have met. But after yesterday, I don’t see the point in hanging on to “friends” who choose hate over love. Anyone who says the politics of hate are “nothing personal” are not my friends.
It’s very simple: love is my religion. And if you voted for our president-elect, you voted against love.
I usually don’t name a lot of names in my blog; I’m not sure why that is. I know if I started to list old friends, I’d leave someone out and feel terrible. I’m certainly not going to list the people I’m unfriending. So, okay, here’s a couple of pictures of me and two of my oldest friends, Mare and Sheliah. I met Mare (and the lovely but unpictured Lisa) on an exchange trip to France in 1981; I can’t imagine my life without them. Sheliah I’ve known since seventh grade and in spite of the gaps, I always keep her close to my heart.
As far as new friends go, I’m going to name a few because it’s like I always say:
Life is short. If you have something nice to say to someone, say it now.
Shawn and Michael are old friends of Ron’s and I met them both at the radio station. I haven’t spent a lot of time with them in person but have gotten to know them via Facebook. I’m glad I know them and for right now they are in the “new” category. Heedan and Jennifer are Smith alumnae I met through Facebook and they have restored my faith in feminism and fashion. And finally, a couple of WMPG radio listeners I’ve never met in person: Adam and Robert “Blizzard Bob.” Adam knows almost as much about music as I do, and definitely knows as much Python as I do. Blizzard Bob is just my kind of weird. I dig that.
Everyone else: you know who you are. If you don’t, that’s on me. As hate seems to be blocking out the sun, I will do my best to
BREAK THE INTERNET WITH LOVE.
That is actually a quote from Sarah, one of my oldest friends, a hero, a comrade and the good ex. I’m not known for holding back (or subtlety or an inside voice) but I am going to do my goddamn best to shine love wherever I can. Maybe someday I will shine that light on the people I’m unfriending today. But today, my love is for the people who shine it back at me, and everywhere they go.