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An argument for “de-friending”

01 / 13 / 2021

I de-friended someone today.

I rarely do this and I can’t remember the last time I did. But there’s a line.

Disagree with me all you want. State your case. Bring a brain and some facts, please. But even if you don’t, it won’t cause me to de-friend you. The question is: How do you conduct yourself?

Today, an angry guy I went to high school with, let’s call him “Andre,” sent a long comment about impeachment. I didn’t get past the first two graphs, because it was so full of rage and lacking in lucid argumentation. But that’s not why I de-friended Andre.

Once you cross the line with profanity and personal insults, that’s it. And Andre wrote a sentence about me and a sex act with politicians that was not only moronic, it was just plain ugly.

As I skipped down to his final sentence, it said something like, “You disappoint me, my friend.” This gave me the perfect opportunity to finally, after 36 years, use a Bill Hurt line from the Big Chill:

“We’re not friends. We knew each other a long time ago for a very short period. You don’t know anything about me.”

Evidence of that was the fact that he called me “Mike.” Mike knows how to fix your car. I’m not a Mike.

Here’s the thing: I like having exchanges with people who disagree with me. I played golf last week with a fella who’d heard that I’d run Democratic campaigns in Chicago. He asked me about it, and if any of them had ever gone to prison. We laughed. The answer was “no.” And then I learned he was a Trump supporter. Not as much a “supporter” (he called him a “wingnut”) as a conservative who didn’t want Joe Biden to win. There are MILLIONS of Americans who feel that way. We disagreed, had a laugh, and then enjoyed the next three hours together.

Some FB friends may read that and take me to task. Grow up. There are 330 million Americans. As long as they don’t storm the Capitol — or violate any other laws — they’re entitled to their opinion and their vote.

When I published a book four years ago called Unlock Congress, even though it was far from a  best-seller, I became a far more public voice that I had already been in journalism and politics. And I accepted anyone and everyone as a “friend” on Facebook.

As such, I get some comments from folks who state their case against Democrats’ ideas/actions. That’s FINE. I often find it either interesting or amusing. And I give them credit for speaking up on a page that they know they’re outnumbered on.

My book was nonpartisan. It was BASED on the idea of our representatives listening to each other, negotiating, and compromising in areas where they could. The rest of the book was about what rules we need to change in Congress and our elections in order to make that possible.

So keep the independent thinking coming. Give me a run. Challenge my average brain.

But keep it clean. We can disagree without being hatefully disagreeable. Otherwise, take it elsewhere. And take a long walk off a short pier.

Out of many, one.