Dec 01 2012
Not for the first time, I’ve been un-Friended on Facebook for one of my political opinions. According to a second-hand conversation I had with a mutual friend, the reaction was pretty visceral. I was surprised when it happened (particularly given that as my range of political opinions goes, it’s on the uncontroversial, even inconsequential end). I was surprised last time it happened, too.
I suppose I’ll keep on being surprised because I have a pretty high opinion of people. I don’t tend to assume that people I know have such little self-esteem that they can’t handle hanging out with people who are (gasp!) of a conservative bent, or need to ensconce themselves in little bubbles of lefty political groupthink. When the proof reveals itself, I feel bad… for them.
I do write a fair bit about politics, but it’s not like my personal blog is getting updated every hour — more like every other week, and usually it’s not even about politics anymore (Subscribers to The Propagandist are a whole other species; they like their punditry fresh and we aim to please). So it’s not like someone can say they’re sick of the sheer volume of my opinions that are clogging up their RSS feeds. Nope. This is about one opinion, one time. Un-Like. Un-Friend.
What’s the big deal? Well, I’m reminded of Christopher Hitchens’ opinion on people who would deny themselves the opportunity of listening to a dissenting opinion:
And every time you silence someone you make yourself a prisoner of your own action because you deny yourself the right to hear something. In other words, your own right to hear and be exposed is as much involved in all these cases as is the right of the other to voice his or her view…
To be sure, I’m not suggesting that everyone is obligated to “Friend” me or sympathetically read all of my little notions. We’re all busy. Read what you want. Disagree if you like. But the thing about blogs is that you’ve got an outlet to disagree. Leave a comment right on the post. “Like” it. Share it with an editorial line of your own. Isn’t that the whole point of Web 2.0 — it’s a two-way street?