When and When Not to Unfriend Someone Over Politics

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The civil wars in the Republican and Democratic parties this primary season has been vicious.  Not just amongst the candidates, but facebook friends as well.  Most everyone has witnessed friends being unfriended over a heated political debate.

There are good reasons to unfriend someone.  There are bad reasons to unfriend someone.

First the bad reasons:

– Because you don’t agree with their political persuasion.
Not everyone is going to agree on everything.  Even big things.  That’s life.
– “Because I don’t like seeing their political posts.”
Why not take the time to consider their political posts?  Even if you don’t agree.   Even if they are wrong.   At least by reading their posts you will gain an insight into how they think.  And by extension, gain insight into how people who agree with them think.  If you can figure out if and why they are wrong, you will be all the better for it.   Look at it as an exercise and not a personal assault against you.  They likely did not have you in mind when posting it.
– “Because I’ve done all that and I’m still tired of seeing their political posts on my feed.”
In that case you can put them on ignore.  Then you won’t see their posts.
– “Because when I post things, they often post their disagreement with what I posted.”
That is great!  They are willing to engage!  You can get even more insight to how they think and have an opportunity to challenge them.  And maybe they have something valid to say you can learn from.   This can be very constructive.

Which leads into the good reasons to unfriend someone:

– “But they are very insulting to me when they post their disagreements on my posts.”
When someone personally attacks you by calling you names or cursing you out, that is unacceptable.  You might consider giving them a warning first, however if it is extreme, it may be best to unfriend them on the spot.
– “They are not extreme like that, but they are mildly insulting.”
If they are only mildly insulting you, then they likely are showing restraint.  That is a good thing.  It means they respect you and value the friendship.  But if they go too far too many times, give them a warning and a chance to correct the behavior.  If they show no intentions or stopping, then unfriend them.
– “I’ve given them warnings and they do stop the behavior after I warn them.  But it seems they are constantly pushing my boundaries in different ways.  Even though I’ve warned them a few times.”
If it becomes a game of teacher/problem-student, where the person is continuously seeing what they can get away with?  It probably means this person is pretending to respect you when they back down, but their continually pushing boundaries shows they don’t.  May be best to unfriend them or put them on ignore.
– “They are not honest.  When I discuss politics with them, they won’t be accountable for their positions.  They either answer questions in a ludicrous fashion or they won’t answer at all.”
This is a tough one.  Many people have blind spots or willful ignorance.  It can take time for some people to digest new information.  But when someone is closed-minded towards your position, and expects you to be open-minded to theirs?  That is a form of abuse.  Even if their language is polite and flowery.  If it becomes a one-sided debate in this way, you may attempt to point it out to them.  If they persist, it’s time to unfriend or ignore.

Also consider the depth of the relationship.  If this is a friend since 3rd grade, give them more slack than a person you met on a comments section.

Every situation is a bit different, these are general rules to follow.  If you follow them, you will likely will have a more positive and constructive facebook experience.

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