When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
(not one Corinthians but first, for any Trumpians out there)
I've been thinking about growing up lately. Not actually doing it, heaven forfend, but the parts that have happened without my permission.
As I talked about earlier I've been sorting and cleaning the house trying to keep my head busy during the hard stretch of June (we are in the hardest of the hard stretches, RIP King George). But part of the sorting and cleaning has been happening on Facebook as well. And it's much more complicated there.
My friend list is actually fairly small, as you would expect for an introvert. It's a little bigger than it would have been due to an online game I played years ago. I made friends with people in that game and I kept the friends even when I stopped playing the game. And then there are old friends that got added as we found each other again.
Sometimes that leads to complications. I would end up with someone on my list that I just don't agree with fundamentally. I'm not talking about a political point that is different than mine, but a fundamental difference with them. I have friends who I will never see eye to eye with about politics. Ones who when they post a link to an article or a meme I know I will roll my eyes and scroll on by. And I also know full well they do the same for my stuff. We disagree about our politics. But we don't fundamentally disagree about something major. For instance, for a stretch I ended up with someone on my list that is a self avowed neo Nazi. Now I had no idea when we became friends that he was, and the first time he said something about being one I wrote it off to hyperbole. My conservative friends over here like to exaggerate that they get called a Nazi no matter what they do. But no, he wasn't kidding. So yeah, fundamental disagreement. This is not a political thing, though obviously our politics did not align, this was a fundamental disagreement about life. Off he went.
The complications come in when you discount that fundamental disagreement for "reasons." I had one the other day that a mutual friend contacted me to see how Brent and I handle it. This was someone who obviously felt strongly in a direction we did not, and who was, let's be blunt, posting really racist shit and couching it in layers of but I'm not a racist because... I had hidden him ages ago. Deep. Like I never saw anything he posts but the original friendship was decades old so unfriending him was not easy. It felt wrong. Another mutual friend of all of ours had done it, sent a very mature note explaining why, and then did it. I'm not that mature. I just hid posts and forgot about him, mostly. Until I was explaining all of this and could hear the justifications in my own reasons. I would NEVER put up with that shit from someone new. I would tell them something along the lines of "Don't want people to call you racist, stop doing racist shit!" and move along. So I unfriended and moved along. Because, to me, when mutual friends see me on that friend list it feels like I am condoning his shit. Like people would see my name there and think, she's SUPER liberal and is friends with him, he must be okay. Probably too high of an opinion of myself, but it is there.
And with this particular person it was also a case of looking back to our childhood years and seeing that he hadn't changed. He was always like that. We just all thought he was kidding. Because we were all being awful to each other in different ways. Teenagers like to push the boundary. At least when we were teens, and within our group. We looked for the soft spots and poked them. Does this hurt? How about now? Still? But, I thought, we were kidding. A little mean, but funny. And then we all grew up and realized how shitty that is and how you can be kind to your friends just as easily as you can tease them. Well, most of us grew up and realized that. Don't get me wrong, I still tease my friends, but I really try to stay on the ornery side of the line, not the I will destroy you side.
And for me there was another piece of looking back that wasn't easy to deal with. I've talked before about growing up and the labels we all deal with, well my best friend was always the pretty one and I was the smart one. People tagged us that way and it stuck. She wasn't dumb though, and I wasn't ugly. But that was the inference in the labeling. But he was the first one to say, "You are prettier than she is." Wow...that was mind blowing. Someone thought I was the pretty one? Looking back it's easy to see that of course I was the pretty one to him. I am white and she is black. It made me feel retroactively shitty about myself. Being vain was bad enough, being vain over a racist thinking white is prettier than black? I needed a Silkwood shower. So part of my attachment to him and our years of friendship and all that was in that package was part of that. I really didn't like it. I can't change it, and honestly I can't really feel badly about it because I didn't know, I hadn't realized, I was still a child. But I can and did change the current status. I'm sure he still has really good points, his family loves him, I just have a fundamental difference with him that is insurmountable.
And that's where I am standing right now. There is a lot of talk about our personal bubbles and how if we only interact with people that think like we do we will never be exposed to other ideas. And I do believe that, to a point. But I also believe that if you reach a point where you look at the relationship and you have no other points of contact but disagreements, that's not helpful either. If every time you get a notice that they've commented you have to take a deep breath before you read it, you aren't learning from each other. If you know that if you met them on the street you wouldn't spend a moment with them because you are fundamentally different then don't keep them around. Clean it off. Don't act like a child. You aren't.
So yeah, I grew up. Not willingly, and you all know not even close to completely, but it's still a good thing. Get rid of the things and people that do not suit you anymore. Don't justify keeping the baggage. Goodwill, and good riddance are your friends.
Now if you'll excuse me I have someone else that needs cleared off my list and few more things to sort out of my house.
(Oh and the Bible verse? Don't get excited or worried, the good thing about being agnostic is a good quote is a good quote no matter the source material.)