On the applicability of Winston Churchill to Facebook

I’m really selective about my friends list on Facebook; after four years, I still haven’t hit 100 friends. It’s all people I know in real life and who I really like hearing from and/or want to keep track of. And a lot of them have vastly different lives than mine, and some of them have wildly differing political opinions.

And like most people, I really hate to unfriend anyone. It feels like rejection, and I hate hurting people. But I think everyone has had the experience of the old college buddy or childhood friend who floods their feed with endless negativity or one-sided political rants. And at a certain point, especially if I’ve talked to them in private about how uncomfortable it makes me, I feel like I have to accept that they “won’t change their minds and can’t change the subject,” and ask myself if I really need to give them more of a platform.

It’s not that I can’t handle people who think differently. I love debate and discussion, and I like learning from perspectives that are very unlike my own. But if someone is just linking to 20 articles a day about something I find offensive, and refusing to discuss it, they’re not open to debate, they’re indulging in one-sided ranting. And there’s a difference between someone who is legitimately going through hard times and needs a friendly ear versus someone who delights in putting the most negative, cynical spin on every casual encounter and experience they have throughout the day. I don’t see why I need to indulge either.

But I still hate feeling like I’m cutting people off, and I worry about leaving myself in a bubble of only people who agree with me. I keep wondering if there’s a better way.

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