The last two weeks of November produced a vortex of news stories (Ferguson, Cosby, Ray Rice) everyone seems to have an opinion on. And, when everyone seems to have an opinion on something, that "everyone" includes "stupid and/or insensitive and/or racist motherfuckers." Nowhere was this more evident than it was on Facebook, as these weeks produced so many harebrained theories, idiotic dissertations, and flagrantly, almost hilariously racist status messages that "How many Facebook friends have you had to defriend?" became a bit of a parlour game; a pissing contest for progressives.
I did not play this game. Not because I'm above games and pissing contests (I'm not) but because I didn't have to. I just didn't see this type of activity on my timeline. Sure, you had the perfunctory shares from the Daily Currant and The News Nerd and your perfunctory cousins thinking that content was factual, but I just did not see the type of racist and/or dangerously stupid stuff on my timeline many others were complaining about. I initially attributed this to just having better, smarter friends than those making the complaints…conveniently ignoring the fact that I have close to 2000 of them and not seeing these types of statuses was more due to some Facebook algorithm than the quality of said friends.
This admittedly harebrained theory went to shit by the end of last week. In a three hour span last Friday, I saw…
…a guy I knew from college sharing content from sites with names like "The Conservative Tribune." (A sample reply to one of his statuses from one of his friends: "Many of the "protesters" that chose to use violence and destruction are nothing more than thugs themselves. And many using the signs at the protests noting "I pay you" - are really those that WE all pay for through public assistance. They are no taxpayers.")
…two separate Cosby-related conspiracy theories. One said they believed all the women were planted by NBC. Another said they believed all these allegations were coming from the same women with a dozen different aliases. (Please take a moment to reread that last sentence. Now tell me if you're as in awe of it as I am.)
I didn't engage with any of these people. I'm on Facebook to share VSB content, like people's engagement photos, and find the thirst trap bikini pics every Bougie Black Girl seems to possess, not to willingly enter arguments that'll never end. But, I won't pretend I wasn't tempted to. And I definitely won't pretend I wasn't annoyed enough with these statuses — especially the racist one — to consider just unfriending these people.
But I didn't. One, because last week was a lazy week and unfriending someone just seemed like too much effort. But mostly I just think having them around is valuable. Now, their opinions on these matters are not valuable. Everyone has an opinion. But some people's opinions just don't fucking matter. It is valuable, however, to be reminded that people who possess these types of opinions exist. And they're not always anonymous people trolling on some message board or eating spinach casserole at a Koch family BBQ. Sometimes these people are people you partied with in college. Or people who came to your last birthday party. Or people you used to want to date. (And actually still would date. Because a big butt and a smile can make you overlook things like "I guess she really does believe Bill Cosby was set up by the Russian Mafia.") Basically, these are real people.
Admittedly, my circumstance might make these reminders more valuable to me. I work for EBONY, run another Black publication, and have predominately Black friends and a Black wife who's Blacker than I am. I don't have to interact with a boss who regularly says triggering things about Ferguson or non-Black coworkers who expect me to be Negro Omniscient when it comes to all things race. I'm about as racially and culturally insulated as a Black person living in Pittsburgh can be, so while others might want their social media interactions to be a respite from their offline lives, they help remind me my world isn't the only one.
So, if you decide to go on a defriending spree today after finding some shitty status message juxtaposition of Janay Rice and Janice Dickinson, I understand. Be my guest. I just won't be doing the same.
(Unless, of course, someone talks bad about Kyrie Irving. Some things just can never be forgiven.)