Tuesday, 8 November 2016

That's it, I've had it with Facebook - it has just cost me a friendship I truly valued

I gave my Facebook timeline a bi-weekly glance yesterday - and promptly lost a friend, Not a "friend" in the social media sense, but a genuine chum whom I've truly liked and admired for over 15 years. We've never been kindred spirits politically - he's a bit left, I'm very definitely right - but that has never seemed to matter. And then he has to go and spoil it all by posting the following bizarre message:
This is SO JUICY!! I'M just luvvin it. For 40 years I've had to put up with some load of mad f****wits / John Major's "bastards" / "the awkward squad" using every parliamentary trick they could muster to frustrate things; now WE CAN DO IT!! Yippeee!!!! Go for it Lords; go for it Lib Dems; go for it Ken Clarke. And the hipocracy: errrrr didn't we vote for the so called sovereignty of our parliament???? Fantastic times......
I'll spare you the rest of his rant - you get the drift. I might have been prepared to overlook it this once, put it down to a temporary mental aberration, but, following the Brexit referendum, he wrote on Facebook that he felt ashamed of his county for the first time in his life, then strongly urged his followers to vote for a second referendum, then blamed Brexiteers for making his latest European jaunt 15% more expensive! But he susequently seemed to calm down, and I thought he'd returned to his senses. But no. The prospect of the majority who voted for Brexit being denied their democratic rights by the great left-liberal establishment seems to have pushed him right over the edge.

I thought of emailing him the following tweet, which neatly encapsulates my own views on recent events...

...but as he's evidently had his fill of "mad f****wits", I'm not sure what it would achieve. I met - separately - three of my oldest friends over the course of a few days a week or two back. All of them, it turned out, had voted to remain in the EU, and were a bit worried about thefuture, but each of them managed to discuss the subject in a civilised, rational manner. Not one of them called me a mad fuckwit (at least, not in the context of Brexit) and the fact that we were on opposite sides of the debate caused nary a ripple during the course of many delightful hours of non-stop yakking and laughing.

I've fallen out with other friends over the years - not many, but a handful. There was one close pal at university who, it transpired, wanted me as an acolyte rather than a chum. More recently, I realised that a close friend I've known for many, many years has turned into someone who just isn't my cup of tea (or vice-versa - hard to tell). And one or two friends have simply got fed up with me: it happens, boo-hoo. But in all those cases, the waning of affection, of fellow-feeling, happened over many months - even years. This time, it's just so damned quick. That's the problem with social media, I suppose: people splatter their thoughts all over it without thinking - many angry letters are never sent, but every angry tweet and Facebook post is. That's one reason I merely "lurk", vampire-like, on both platforms, but never post anything. If I blog something I regret here (usually a potential libel), I can remove it with a few keystrokes, while keeping my fingers crossed that nobody's seen it. Once something you've written has appeared on followers' timelines on other social media platforms, it's too late to reconsider. (Anyway, I've got no reason to think that my erstwhile friend regrets his outburst.)

Facebook is for fluffy personal stuff, not politics. If you use it to voice your political opinions - especially if you choose to express them in insulting, intemperate terms - then you're basically telling "friends" who don't agree with you to get stuffed. If you've "friended" someone you expect to get news about their kids, holidays, anniversaries (plus the occasional cute kitten video). Suddenly being blared at as if through a megaphone on the great political issues of the day feels like rank discourtesy: it's not what you signed up for. It's a bit like turning up to someone's place for dinner, only to discover that the object of the evening is to entice you into a seedy pyramid-selling scheme (which actually happened to me once, in Dulwich - the hosts were French).

But, I hear you object, your blog is full of your political opinions, which are almost invariably expressed intemperately. So it is - but anyone who does me the honour of visiting this neighbourhood rapidly discovers what's on the menu, and - if they find it offensive - they don't have to come back: my horrible political opinions won't suddenly pop-up, unbidden, on their timeline. And unlike a Facebook feed, I don't write this blog solely for a circle of friends and acquaintances (although I'm obviously delighted that quite a few friends and acquaintances read it) - many of the people who come here have never met me (and probably wouldn't want to). With my Facebook "friends", I have a vague interest in knowing how their trip to Machu Picchu went, or how Tarquin and Jocasta are getting on university, or whether their new Boggs Super-Oaf really can do 0-100 in three seconds - I don't expect to be told that my political views mean I'm considered a mad fuckwit - nor that I'm somehow guilty of "hipocrasy" just because I'm naive enough to believe that, when the government asks the people to vote on something, their decision should be respected. What's "hipocratical" about that?

What's particularly sad about all this is that, although my friend's deranged ejaculation makes him sound like a CAUC, he's actually one of the nicest, most decent people I've ever met. Brexit must be the most divisive political issue of our lives - but I'm still absolutely delighted we voted for it. Fuck the EU.


  1. My sentiments entirely, Scott.
    I'm thinking it must have been a bit like that with Roundheads vs Cavaliers.

    1. Yes - but without the swords. Fortunately.