Several times in the past few weeks, I've seen people on social media who have posted the above statement in one form or another. Basically, they've said, "if you don't believe the same way I do about [insert issue or cause here] then unfriend me now. We simply cannot be friends."
The issue or cause could be related to any topic but lately these statements have mostly been about politics. And here's my answer about these strongly worded "requests."
My answer is "no."
I typically do not share my political or religious beliefs on social media. Not because I don't have my own belief system, but because most people don't want to have a real discussion about these topics. Instead, they want you to come around to their way of thinking. To get you to believe the way they do. Also, there are people who get nasty when they find you believe differently than they do. Name calling is not uncommon anymore. And if you share a belief about one thing, some people have a need to dump you in a bucket and label you one thing or another. And then they make a lot of assumptions about who you are. Who needs all that negativity and judgment in their life?
So I don't write about whether I'm a democrat, republican, independent, libertarian or something else. I usually won't share my views on the president, current political scenario or most major issues over the Internet. So when you demand I "unfriend" you if I don't agree with you, you'll never know that I don't agree. Because I just don't get sucked into those discussions. Of course, that made me think the following. If I don't unfriend you, will you think I agree with you? Because I might not. A catch-22 of sorts. If I unfriend you, you'll know I thought differently than you. If I stay friends, you'll think I agree with you. Either way you're putting an edict on me that I don't choose to address. So...here's why I won't unfriend you.
It's because to me, you are not defined by your beliefs about that one issue. You're a friend of mine on social media for other reasons that have nothing to do with your thoughts about that hot button. We might be friends because I see how much love you have for your family and it makes me happy to see the beautiful photos you share. Or because of your ongoing work to help the military. Or the police. Or making sure animals are cared for. Or maybe it's because you are inspiring in some other way. Maybe it's because we share a past. Or the present. Whatever it is, it's much bigger than one issue where we might disagree.
So I'm going to keep you as a social media friend because I like you regardless of your differing beliefs about that issue. And I'm not going to stop.