Farewell to friendship in the age of Trump

Goodbye spirited debate! So long teasing! Forget about it, polite conversation! Take a hike kindness. You’re done! Finished! Finito! Every attempt at online interaction now is fraught with misunderstanding, defensiveness and paranoia. What did you say about me? What did you mean by that?!? You are so naive, ignorant, liberal, conservative, arrogant, brainwashed, deplorable, gullible…on and on and on. You are either one of US or one of THEM!

Wait…what?

Now, to get to the heart of this blog confession; I was recently unfriended and blocked on social media by someone I have known since high school. While this isn’t the first former school chum to unfriend me this one certainly was the most surprising. Now, granted, we haven’t physically seen one another in over 20 years and every attempt I have made to connect, face-to-face, since 1997 has been rebuffed but, I’m confident when I say I tried! I called, texted and messaged, all out of genuine concern for a friend I wanted to keep in my life because I had fond memories of them from a time period when things weren’t as complicated.

We used to be really good friends…once…a long time ago.

Everything is complicated now! And mostly because people make it complicated for themselves.

It all began with a series of half satirical, half personal opinion posts about the Orange Scourge. Then, it involved replies on other friend’s posts and then my own response to said former friend who was clearly trying to either elicit an affirmation of his world view or a negative response to posting a blurb about how those still “fearful” of getting Covid-19 should just stay home while everyone “brave” and “patriotic” goes back to work. This is the same person who would regularly pop into comment feeds with harshly cold comments bereft of empathy and dripping with condescension and then when rebuffed would also try to disengage by saying, “Oh, I guess I don’t understand how social media works”, “I thought we could have a discussion but I guess I was wrong!” But, wait! You claim to be a sort-of Libertarian scholar so don’t you know it ALL? Tell us more Professor! Psst….THAT’S sarcasm by the way.

Yes, yes you do understand how dropping a shitty comment into the middle of friends bantering back and forth will be received. Yes, you do understand that the people you are crap-bombing are all outspoken women who are very adept at expressing their views and who don’t appreciate being talked down to. Yes, you knew this and yet chose to proceed because…you knew exactly what you were doing. The need for attention, whether it’s positive or negative is still with you even after all these years. Such is the way of the perpetual adolescent, demanding attention and then feigning dismay when things take a disturbing turn. Not my fault! Uh, huh…sure. If not yours then whose?

And, so I felt compelled to respond with a truthful statement that indeed, I shall stay home because I am lucky enough to have an employer that values my safety and one who can allow me to work from home. I acknowledge that I am very fortunate and appreciative of how my life has turned out. It seemed to be a benign enough proclamation until other comments involved telling the fearful, in this person’s view, to file for unemployment if they felt too scared to work. Not. That. Simple. For an all knowing Libertarian I’m shocked they don’t realize that if a stay at home order is lifted then the unemployment payments stop. If an employee decides to continue staying home they can either: 1) Burn up their sick and vacation time or: 2) Get fired for being insubordinate if they still refuse to come to work and risk getting or spreading Covid-19. If the second option occurs you can bet that the unemployment benefits process will start all over leaving the “fearful” without money coming in for a period of time combined with the indisputable knowledge that profits are more important than human lives. *Edit: The most likely scenario will be the reasonably concerned employee will balk at returning and the unsympathetic employer will consider that an, “I quit” which equals-no unemployment.

The former friend’s response? “Well, YOU just stay home and you’ll be safe…” Is there a sarcasm font? No? You’ll just have to read that in your best sarcastic and dismissive tone. You understand what sarcasm sounds like right? Some are confused as to what that is apparently (cough, cough…Trump) and after receiving a reply that a snotty, privileged Karen would give I read it to really mean, “And…all the rest of us patriots, unafraid of some silly virus and unwilling to give up our freedom (to infect) will move about the world touching and coughing on everything while you stay holed up in fear.”

The actual typed words may seem harmless on the surface but I know this game well. I recognize the short response, the clipped phrasing of impatience and defensive deflection, the bubbling irritation I have gotten so used to. I will pat you on the head with these dismissive words, words I don’t really mean but words I choose in order to belittle and embarrass you online. Words I would never try in person because I’m not good with face-to-face conflict. So brave, right?

Having dealt with many passive-aggressive individuals over the years I clearly recognize that when a rebuttal begins with WELL the resentment tends to run DEEP. I have no idea why this person would feel resentful towards me or toward any other friends so I won’t even hazard a guess. It doesn’t really matter. I simply don’t tolerate this type of childish drama in my life anymore so I’m not hurt by the severing of social media ties. Keeping self-absorbed online nasty comment bombers on my virtual “friend” list has lost it’s appeal and no matter what our history together was it’s now time to let go. I have grown up, they have not and that’s okay. I will not lose any sleep over our ridiculous falling out.

What does concern me, however, is the suspicion that all is not mentally well with my former friend despite denials when pressed via private message. There is something off here, something that doesn’t make sense and even though I have asked if I can be supportive and be of service my assistance is not welcome. I can respect that. Again, I tried so now all I can do is wish them well, hope they are okay and leave them in the past.

Farewell friend! I knew you once but now, I hardly know thee at all.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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