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Drama, Insults, and True Friendship

January 12, 2011

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. ~Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, c.1420



In working to create an inclusive autism blogs directory, Kathleen and I have rejected no bloggers who’ve asked to be listed. We have a small (less than one hand) list of sites we won’t list, but other than those very few sites, we welcome everyone to the community.


We don’t go around telling the bloggers they have to change what they’re doing. We don’t go around berating them and browbeating them because we disapprove of a facebook page they’ve liked.  


I have a simple rule, learned the hard way (trust me), that you don’t go crap on other people’s personal posts. It was a hard lesson learned by doing that, by trying to argue directly with an individual or two. 


I think you can have an energetic debate; I don’t mind disagreement and discussing how we see a situation differently. In fact, I love that. Polite, respectful exchanges are lovely things that I enjoy tremendously, so feel free to tell me how we differ as I don’t mind that at all.


There are lines, though, that I expect if I’ve facebook friended you, to not cross. Polite exchanges of how we differ are still fine. I don’t mind that. Insulting me, berating me, and then attempting to push me into your course of action is not acceptable behavior for a friend. And when I write that you have hurt my feelings, failing to acknowledge that and continuing to berate me and try to push me towards what you want makes it abundantly clear that you don’t respect my right to act in accordance with my beliefs.


My friendship list on facebook is diverse, just like the directory. I try to practice what I preach. As long as you want a supportive environment and to work at creating acceptance, appreciation, and accommodation for all individuals, I’m happy to be your friend. If you post something I disagree with on your facebook wall, I’m not going to tell you that you are wrong and need to do it my way. I might share a link with you, but I’m not going to argue with you, if that makes sense. My role in agreeing to be your facebook friend is to be your friend, and I don’t think friends bring drama and stress, not true friends. True friends accept differences of opinions, differences of beliefs, differences of practice. True friends don’t condemn you for thinking fruit is a dessert, do they, Kathleen? 🙂


I’m going to do things, believe things, write things that some of my friends won’t agree with, and they’re going to do the same. And if we’re big boys and girls who’ve learned our friendship lessons right, we are secure in who we are and in our friendships that they can weather these difference as long as we remember to respect each others’ rights to live our own lives.


Brian Dunning has a podcast entitled Emergency Handbook: What to Do When a Friend Loves Woo. In it he discusses three strategies; the first one, “Do Nothing,” I am practicing on my facebook page, although if you read the transcript or listen to the podcast, I’m not going as far as he does in terms of hoping you’ll see the light and follow me and believe what I believe. Dunning writes/says: 

Doing nothing now doesn’t mean giving up. When you choose not to confront your friend’s current weird belief, there’s still an effective strategy for helping him out that you can follow. By accepting and tolerating your friend’s weird belief, you’re actually setting yourself up to be in a position of great influence the next time something weird comes down the line. Your friend likely knows that you’re a skeptical person, and eventually he’ll recognize that you’ve been putting up with his weird belief and saying nothing. In fact he may someday ask you, “Hey, you know I believe in this weird thing, how come Mr. Cynical Skeptic has never tried to talk me out of it?”

 Ask “Is it important to you?”

“Yes.”
“You’re important to me.”

Think what a powerful message that sends. It may sound corny, but it’s a statement that your friend will always remember. You’ve just communicated that your friendship is more important than your “evil debunking hobby”. You’ve made it clear, unequivocably, that you don’t want such differences to come between you. (bolded for my emphasis)

Building a supportive community for me means that: you’re more important. 


It doesn’t mean I’m not going to counter misinformation on the blog. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to woo fight. It just means that I’m going to put my friendships above that.


*Lying about stuff is a quick way to lose me as a friend, too, but that’s a whole other post.*

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