Stop The Post Election Facebook Unfriending Frenzy

My Facebook feed has gone completely haywire in the past 24 hours.  Upon the announcement of Donald J. Trump’s election, everything has seemed to stand still for all of America, no matter young or old.  The mixture of anger, sense of defeat, excitement and utter loss of hope are the best way I can describe the mixed and muddled emotions on my Facebook feed.  Not all statuses are long and passionate-- there is even an onslaught of political memes that I can only assume is our generation’s way of coping with things, to make light of a serious situation.  Meme’s aside, the reoccurring trend on my feed was status after status from fellow friends, family members and co-workers passionately announcing their plans to unfriend those in opposition to their views regarding the results of the election.     

The thing is, what are these Facebook statuses of threats of virtual de-friending going to solve?  Today I have seen online friends by the dozen post something along these lines: If you voted for X, I will de-friend you immediately, or please un-friend me at once if you did not vote for X, because X, Y and Z.

In my humble opinion, society today is a walking contradiction.  Millenials especially.  Millenials passionately believe they are entitled to their own opinions, yet when it comes to someone else’s opinion that directly opposes or differs from their own, they immediately want to silence that opposition.  How is that synonymous with believing in freedom of thought or an individual’s right to having one’s own opinion?  A heated status exclaiming an immediate de-friending because someone disagrees in the outcome of the Presidential candidate is absurd and childish.  People can do whatever they desire with their own social media.  However, when they become so uncomfortable with someone challenging how they think or feel, they might want to look at themselves and ask why.  Why are they extremely uncomfortable with others who feel just as passionately as they do, yet with different ideals?

This is the mentality that I am finding so prevalent with Millenials.  The mentality of "I believe in freedom of speech and free thought, until it disagrees with my own."  Is tolerance not what everyone has begged for throughout this entire election?  Now, so many people stand here today showing intolerance towards those who oppose their views.  Is that not a contradiction?

There was an article that popped up on my timeline this morning by the Huffington Post and it has a very interesting take on the social media de-friending frenzy following the election.  Jennifer Sullivan, of The Huffington Post, adamantly argues that Trump directly opposes humanity. 

Humanity. 

Yep, that is quite a bold statement.  However, many people agree with this statement.  Per contra, many people also disagree with such a blanketed, black and white statement.  Sullivan justifies the de-friending hysteria, because she can only see things from own viewpoint.  A viewpoint that directly opposes Donald Trump.  Sullivan deeply believes that Trump opposes women’s rights and LGBT rights.  She has found solidarity in these beliefs.  This is her truth.

Let’s flip the coin here.  Many others find solidarity in the belief that Hillary Clinton’s Clinton Foundation directly opposes women’s and LGBT rights because it has made deals with and accepted funding of millions of dollars from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.  In Saudi Arabia women cannot drive cars or vote or be un-chaperoned in public without a man.  They have presumably the most restrictive laws against women in the world.  In the United Arab Emirates, same-sex relations are punishable by death.  Many people do not agree that Clinton supports women and LGBT community if her foundation takes money from such countries.

My point here is both sides have their own truth that they find solidarity in.  So who's opinion is right?  Sullivan, and Hillary supporters, firmly believes in her stance on Trump.  While Trump supporters firmly believe in their stance against Hillary.

The wonderful thing is: we are free to think and choose to agree or disagree with whatever we want.  That is the beauty of this whole thing.  We are each entitled to our own unique opinions.  So an attempt to virtually axe or silence a slew of Facebook friends because they oppose your own thought process is a dangerous and slippery slope.

This predicament happens when one side decides to silence the other side.  I encourage you to ask yourself, would you see the bigotry of de-friending someone over his or her religious preference just because you may disagree with it?  If you only want to procure friends that think exactly the same way as you, then you are limiting your world to narrow selection of people that will not stimulate growth or diverse thought.  Is un-friending your Aunt Terry really going to solve what you see unfit with this election?  Your aunt Terry will still believe what she believes.  It will not make a difference if you are friends online or not. 

What I am stressing is this: cutting ties with friends and family may seem like a patriotic act at the moment but what we need to do as a country is accept the fact that Trump is President whether we like it or not.  De-friending people on Facebook is a form of slacktivism: actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement.  You are solving nothing by sharing countless biased articles and making angry statuses, or by unfriending people.

If you want to be vigilant in doing something for this country, become an active citizen.  According to Andrej Nosko Katalin Széger of Open Society Foundations, “Active citizenship means people getting involved in their local communities and democracy at all levels, from towns to cities to nationwide activity.  Active citizenship can be as small as a campaign to clean up your street or as big as educating young people about democratic values, skills and participation.”

Politics can bring out the worst in friends and even family, so it is imperative to remember that in this nation we have the privilege to occupy and procure our own opinions, no matter how drastically diverse.  Do not ever think your opinion has more of a right to be voiced than that of the opinion that opposes you.