Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When Facebook friends fall out

I just did my first "unfriend" on Facebook. I never would have thought that anybody could get my back up enough to want to unfriend them, because I'm one laid-back person when it comes to allowing people their say. But it turns out that even I have limits.
    In my six years on Facebook I've accepted almost anyone as a friend as long as they seemed like a real person. I spent so many years as a "public figure" writing for the Times Colonist that Facebook just seems like an extension of that part of me rather than a fenced-in place that only my genuine friends can access.
    I've been completely open to all the wacky ways that my 1,597 pals choose to express themselves on the social media site, and love the whole open-forum feel of the place. I love being connected to a wildly diverse group of people who together represent all points of every spectrum out there.
     But I guess that line in the sand was always there even if I didn't know it. And today somebody crossed it.
    I'd posted a comment that today was International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, suggesting everyone should head on down to the rally tonight in Victoria, BC, in support of sex workers. "Why are they called sex workers?" wrote the now-banished friend. "How about 'Stupid Cows'"?
    Anyone who has made my acquaintance in the past decade knows that I am hardcore in my support for adult sex workers. That doesn't mean I can't be Facebook friends with those who believe otherwise, however. I'm sure I have more than a few acquaintances who don't share my views, because sex work remains a divisive topic that is almost as predictable as abortion when it comes to sending people scrambling for their strongly held positions on the subject.
   But calling sex workers "stupid cows" - well, that's just not on. That's not intelligent debate, that's just offensive. It's like being racist, or homophobic. I've probably unknowingly got others like that among my Facebook friends, too, but from this point on I'll be watching more alertly for signs of them showing their true colours.
     Part of me wonders if there's something wrong with the "stupid cow" woman that she would even write such a thing. Or if somebody hateful snuck onto her computer while she wasn't looking and wrote that. Or maybe it's a Catfish thing and she isn't who she says she is at all; when I (belatedly) visited her site today to try to understand what kind of a person would say such a thing on my Facebook page, I did get to wondering if she was a real person or just a front for some mean-spirited and cowardly person to hide behind.
      At any rate, I do hope this unpleasant business won't sour me on being open to random connections on Facebook. I've had some really heartfelt conversations with people I barely knew until we "met" on Facebook. But every now and then an idiot's going to sneak in past the open gate. And I'll relish the chance to unfriend them.

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