Friendly Silence

A simple, philosophical pondering this time.

It was spurred by the question of longtime friends and acquaintances in the era of social media. I was wondering if someone “met me” – virtually or otherwise – for the first time today, who was my friend years ago, would they be my friend today?

Would they “be able” to look past their politics, their stance on some topic, their statements about some aspect of the culture and accept that we might strongly disagree on something?

Even if I made them laugh, even if they regarded my personality as a whole as a positive and generous one but there were things which were in stark conflict with their chosen orthodoxy, would they choose to be my friend?

Have times changed so much?

From my perspective, an increasing number of people are unwilling to recognize the possibility that they have friends who strongly disagree with them about things but remain silent because they know it will “cost” them a friendship to disagree openly about something.

Maybe it’s not worth the hassle. Maybe it’s not worth the conflict. Maybe I just don’t consider it something that’s worth ending a friendship over. Maybe it’s not worth diminishing a person over a conflict about some dogmatic principle that was adopted from the tribal headlines posing as sophisticated news.

But is it really a friendship to be unwilling to disagree openly? Shouldn’t friends be able to disagree strongly and remain friends?

Or maybe I just wish some of my friends would shut the hell up and stop presuming I agree with them on everything because we’re friends.

Otherwise it seems an abuse of the goodwill stemming from a relationship to make statements that belittle and denigrate those who disagree, as it presumes that the other person must agree.

If lockstep agreement is a condition of the friendship, it’s not a friendship.

Maybe the way out of the whole mess is for people to try to state things as if they were saying them to someone who is a friend, whose respect and love they wouldn’t want to lose even if they disagree.

And if they are making caustic statements because they can’t imagine that a friend would disagree, and wouldn’t care if they did lose that friendship, I’d say they need to do some soul searching.

Because what they think they have isn’t really friendship, is it? I know that even if I could break through and show the complete opposite of what they believe as true, they’d rather not listen.

Maybe I’m the one that should make the call. Maybe it’s a failing on my part, a softness, to hold onto the positive aspects and ignore posturing and soapbox rants. I’ve liked to tell myself that ignoring the negative in favor of the positive was the way to do it. Increasingly, though, I know they don’t reciprocate.

It’s kinda sad.


OK, back to funny stuff and/or movie reviews next time.