The downside to Facebook friends…

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Friendship is a gift but sometimes there’s a downside to Facebook friends…

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have raised a secondary issue relating to social media. Who are our “friends” and what do we expect of them?

I’m not talking about countries here. Nor am I talking about political allegiances, except obliquely. And I’m not referring to refugees either. I’m describing the people that Facebook has obliged us to call “friends.” Even if they’re people we haven’t seen since grade school.

A real-life friend of mine raised this issue with me via email this week. Here’s what he said:

I think the Paris bombings may have brought out the best in some people in France, but it sure has made others vicious-tongued hatred-spewers. And I’m talking about both those who want to welcome Syrian refugees and those who want to shut our borders tight. 

One comment I saw this morning said of a “friend of a friend”, who was allowing both sides on the refugee issue to argue things out, “Boy, you sure have a lot of racist friends.”  Why does everyone on Facebook believe that their “friends” and “friends of friends” should always have exactly the same political views that they do?

Me? I’m particular about my friends. But I don’t expect them to toe the same party line as I do. I want them to be kind and thoughtful and, ideally, have a good sense of humour. One of my close friends has political views I’d describe as the polar opposite of mine. How do I tolerate him? We don’t talk about it. We just enjoy each other’s company.

I resent the way Facebook has chummily appropriated the word “friend” to describe acquaintances. It devalues both true friendship and invaluable professional connections.