Should you unfriend someone who has opposing political views?
- ‘Unfriending’ is defined as removing someone“...from a list of designated friends on a person's social networking website.”
- Recent research from the University of Tampa has found that “...time spent on social media sites leads to a decrease in mood, with bad moods being heightened when exposed to content we find negative or offensive.”
- Researchers reveal that 40 percent of people who have been unfriended on Facebook will actively avoid the person who unfriended them in real life.
- The amount of Americans who see the opposing political party as threatening to “the nation’s well-being” has doubled since 1994.
- According to one survey, “...Democrats are actually 47 percent more likely than Republicans to express their political views on Twitter.”
Studies show that political leanings often play a role in online interactions and are ultimately responsible for many relationships being cut short. In fact, one survey revealed that almost 44% of respondents had deleted someone from their social media because of their politically charged posts and commentaries. It's an easy way out to cut off communication with someone who holds a differing opinion; however, rarely will two people agree on an issue 100%. Therefore, it's critical to realize that someone can't advocate for their own principles without understanding the views of the side they reject. While arguments are rarely won on social media, communication lines must remain open for someone to stay educated. If people are separated down party lines--interacting only with their 'team'--they forego opportunities to help each other, not only physically and materially as a society, but also by forfeiting the chance to understand an opposing view and thus strengthen or re-consider their own beliefs.
Digging deeper and examining how politics affect relationships on a personal level--not merely regarding social media platforms' versions of 'unfriending'--it's essential to consider whether or not political differences should fracture a friendship. Is it worth it? Friendships often are founded on camaraderie and similar hobbies, loyalty, and honesty. There's much more to a relationship than politics. Ultimately, no online interaction can compare to the importance of face-to-face meetings. It's vital to get out from behind the keyboard (once quarantine has lifted, of course), meet up with a friend, and share those things that created the friendship in the first place.
Political allegiances are more than just a superficial identifier; they reflect the core values at the heart of a person: how they perceive and respond to the world in which they live. When seeking relationships, it makes sense that we would naturally gravitate towards people who share our frame of reference. It follows that we are likely to find those with drastically different principles difficult to bond with, which isn't a bad thing.
'The personal is political' was a popular rallying call for second-wave feminists, but it can be equally powerful and resonant when reversed: the political is personal. Scrape the surface of every influence in your life, and you can find a political decision has been made. If your bus is late, has your government deprioritized public transport? We all live with the consequences of political decision-making; however, many live at the sharper end of them.
If you are an immigrant or you live in desperate poverty, politicians who espouse anti-immigration policy or cut state welfare objectively make your life more difficult. If someone in your social circle has voted for those same policies, how can they be a true friend? Why should they be considered one, on Facebook or in real life?
In these cases, doesn't demanding that those you vote to marginalize remain your friend show huge entitlement levels? You have the freedom to express your views, but be aware that everyone else has the freedom to reject them. If you're so privileged that the worst political oppression you endure is an unfriending on social media, you should consider yourself very lucky.