A Public De-Friending
As someone new to Facebook and not entirely convinced by it (although there’s something strangely compelling about it), I only recently learned about the phenomenon of “de-friending.” It occurred to me that it would take a great deal for me to de-friend someone. I mean, I wouldn’t do it just because I realized that I barely knew the person OR because the person wrote on my wall every 17 seconds OR EVEN that the person had — and shared – political views that I regard as anathema. So what would constitute grounds for de-friending?
Last night, a link came to WordinEdgewise from a woman who had rather publicly defriended a guy for transgressions that she has very graciously allowed me to repeat here. I don’t know any details beyond what this woman (Elizabeth Eccleston) discusses in her open letter to this guy. But I’m presenting the letter in its entirety to give you the full sense of why she did what she did:
“Dear Jonathon Stucker,
Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! I noticed it through facebook – enough of my friends had joined the group that you created to announce your engagement (how modern!) that it showed up on the sidebar of my homepage. Really, I couldn’t be happier for you. I have to admit, though – I discovered your announcement about a week or so ago, and I’m only bringing it up now because I’ve been reading [the WordinEdgewise post about the Prop 8 oral arguments], and it reminded me of you.
“You know, I haven’t thought about you too much since I felt the need to defriend you after you repeatedly posted your notes supporting Proposition 8. Of course, merely voicing your differing opinion wouldn’t have been enough for me to remove you from an online networking site; it was your posts with offensive analogies to fishing, propaganda regarding the dangers gay marriage posed on your (and everyone else’s, no matter what they were) religious beliefs, and, best of all, it was the fact that you deleted any comment that pointed out a flaw in your argument, or even merely stated a differing opinion (but, of course, you kept all of the comments of blind support). Even after all this, however, it was the fact that you began to re-post your notes – not even bothering to write new ones! – just so they’d stay on every one’s facebook front page that led me to defriending you, my one-time middle school friend.
“But, you! Congratulations, really. I love weddings, and I love marriages. When two people decide to commit to loving each other and being there for each other for the rest of their lives, it is a truly beautiful thing. I’m looking forward to eventually getting married, when I find the right person. And, just like you, I won’t have any trouble doing so. Just like you, I’ll be able to make the decision with my fiance, announce it to my family and friends, and have everybody be happy for us. Even though I won’t be getting married in a church, as I’m sure you will, we’ll both go down to the County Clerk’s office beforehand, and we’ll get a license to marry. We’ll both complete that step, even though we have very different religious beliefs. See how that works? But my best friends won’t be able to do that, if you, and people like you, get your way. It’s amazing how your religious beliefs, of which you are so understandably protective, dictated that my friends won’t be able to get married, even though none of us share your religion. Weird, huh?
“And, wow. As you stated in your facebook group, you’ve only been dating your fiancee for a month before you proposed. That’s really quick! But, hey – when you know, you know, right? This summer, some family friends of mine got married. They had been together for over twenty years. Despite the fact that they have two children together, they had to wait that long because our state wouldn’t legally recognize their commitment to each other. They are really beautiful people, too – one of them works with child protective services, making sure children are safe and properly cared for. That’s how they adopted their children, too – both girls had severe childhood trauma and struggled with bipolar disorder at a young age. Through my friends’ love and commitment to their children and to each other, both girls are now healthy, stable and going through normal teenage pangs. And now the California Supreme Court is arguing whether or not their marriage should remain valid. One month, huh? Terrific. Well done. I’m so happy that you’ll have no roadblocks or third parties arguing against the validity of your love and readiness for a lifelong commitment to one another, because, really, nobody should have to go through that.
“I hope you enjoy your privilege, Jon. I hope your marriage is long-lasting and fulfilling. I hope you appreciate the benefits that your legally-recognized opposite-sex marriage gives you, including status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions if you or your wife is too ill to be competent; automatic inheritance in the absence of a will; bereavement or sick leave to care for your wife or child; and judicial protections and evidentiary immunity, among many others. I hope you never have to use any of those benefits, but I hope you appreciate your legal backing if anything ever happens to you or your family. I hope the fact that you, as you claimed, were afraid of a florist getting sued for refusing to take on gay clients for their wedding because it so offended his or her religious beliefs, makes it worth taking away those benefits from thousands and thousands of loving couples, who want nothing more than to be able to do what you are lucky enough to be doing right now: marry the one that they love.
“Congratulations on your upcoming marriage, Jon. I hope you feel more protected than you would have had my best friends had the same rights that you do, had they been considered equal citizens in the eyes of the law. I hope it is worth it.
“And I hope your marriage isn’t so delicate that it will be damaged once progress is no longer halted, when we DO win, and we have equal rights for all. Kisses!!
Love, your wacky, liberal, feminist, homo-loving friend from middle school,
OK, this guy seems like a bit of a straw man. But his views (if not his objectionable conduct on Facebook) are fairly representative.
Thanks, Elizabeth! More straight allies like this, please!