About that rabid conservative putting right-wing stuff on my Facebook wall

800px-AwesomePossum-AmericanOpossumI’ve got a Facebook “friend” who is a rabid conservative to the extreme. He gets his news—all his news—from conservative commentators and web sites. He would never read the New York Times, it’s part of the liberal media conspiracy and is full of lies, you see. He basically disagrees with everything I believe in, and he’s not shy about posting his rants—against universal healthcare, in favor of torture, in favor of the war in Iraq–on my wall if I put up anything, and I mean anything, related to politics or current events.

“Who is this wacko?” my other Facebook friends are asking me. “Can’t you see he’s completely nuts?” “Why haven’t you defriended him?”

Oh, believe me, I’ve considered it, particularly when he flames all over what I see as an innocuous link. But, for now, I’m keeping him around.

It started a few months ago. I got a friend request from a guy I went to middle school and part of high school with (I moved my sophomore year.) I didn’t remember him, but I looked him up in an old yearbook and realized that I probably did know him at one time; he at least had been in my homeroom. Since very few former high school classmates of mine had yet found Facebook, I was happy to make the connection. I accepted the request and looked at his page.

And then I emailed him to tell him that while it was nice of him to friend me, he probably didn’t really want me as a friend, because I was a California liberal who voted for Obama (the anti-Christ, it seems) and had just the night before made a donation in support of the campaign to allow gay marriage, so if he wanted to defriend me, I’d understand.

He said that as long as I was someone who at least knew what the issues were and put some effort into understanding them, that was good enough for him. And an extremely weird Facebook friendship was born.

As I expected, we disagree on everything. I’m stunned by the conservative blather he spouts, horrified at how cruel and selfish the conservative take, particularly on the national healthcare debate, can be. But I haven’t defriended him. For one, while he is against everything I am for, he has never once made the debate personal, he sticks to the issues, so while our online debates get pretty aggressive, they never get hurtful.

For another, he has definitely opened my eyes to a new reality. I truly had no idea what kinds disinformation is being spread by the conservative media. And I didn’t realize that in our increasingly fragmented society that there is a growing group of people that never reads anything written by a journalist bound by ethics and facts, so “commentators” who simply lie when it suits them can have a huge influence. It scares me, and makes me worry about the future of our country, but I should know about it.

He also acts as an early warning system to the next big conservative firestorm—because he reads lots and lots of right-wing material, and if there’s a new attack on Obama brewing, he’ll be posting about it long before I read it anywhere else.

And while I doubt that I’ll ever change his point of view on health care, immigration, or the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, I’m hoping maybe, just maybe, I’m occasionally putting just a little dent in his armor of certainty.

So that’s why my Facebook wall occasionally gets hijacked by a rabid conservative. Sorry for those of my Facebook friends that have gotten sucked into the debates, and others that have to scroll past them, but I’m letting it go on, for now, anyway.

Photo credit: PiccoloNamek

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