You know the whole "we can disagree and still be friends" advocacy movement? Usually, it takes the form of someone making the extreme "gotcha" power statement of posting a photo of someone else holding a sign that says, "we can disagree and still be friends," letting everyone know that they are better than all those liberal snowflake simps who cut people off at the slightest offence.
Well I came across one of those recently and decided against my better judgment to engage with it. AND I'M SO GLAD I DID! Not because I changed someone's mind (although they did say I gave them something to think about!) but because it really helped me clarify my own thinking.
First of all, even the people who post these things understand that there are exceptions.
On this feed, people comment with exceptions like thinking pedophilia is okay or believing absurd lies from white supremacist, Trumpian movements.
The original poster's response? "I'm sure you wouldn't be friends with them in the first place," which represents a nice delusion that people lay out their worst views before you get to know them or never develop terrible views after you've become close and also, okay, so there is a limit to what you can disagree about while being friends. Great.
Second, as delightful a human as I am, not being friends with me doesn't mean I've dehumanized someone or ruined their life or even cut them out. It just means we aren't friends. I am still friendly and respectful towards people who aren't my friends.
Third, it was suggested to me that we gain nothing ("NOTHING") by not being friends with these people, which made me realize that we actually do. There is a real cost to maintaining a friendship with someone who has dehumanizing views.
The cost may be your own personal pain, like when I found out a friend of mine not only held traditional gender ideals but thought I was a lesser person than him for being of the female persuasion, or it may be by proxy to other people we love, who are being hurt by them. (You try telling someone who has been actively hurt by someone's bigoted views that you still want to be friends with them and not feel like a huge jerk and also realize that you are actually choosing one friendship over another because now your friend who has been hurt also trusts you less.)
Fourth! It was also suggested to me that those of us who do think there are limits to friendship (which, as per point one, is all of us, but still...) think we are doing something noble by cutting people out (ignoring the fact that ending a friendship is usually a very painful task that is not taken lightly by most).
Honestly, I'm pretty sure the people with illusions of nobility are the ones who think they are better than everyone else for maintaining a friendship with someone they disagree with and posting photos advertising that fact without recognizing the nuance or pain that underlies a severed friendship.
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