In about five minutes I will have un-followed my first “friend.”
Why does it bother me?
In truth, it’s not the unfollowing that bothers me. I only knew him as well as I could know anyone with whom I exchanged workshop critiques over a 3-week summer writer’s workshop. Which is to say I knew him by words and by sight—which does not, as some might believe, mean I knew his insights, or lack thereof.
I did not know his politics. I did not know his racial barometer, his insecurities. Perhaps I don’t actually endeavor to know anyone that well. In the past, I had at best glanced at his updates. But now that either I have more time or he does, his updates appear to have become more frantic and more frequent. I find myself shocked by their chantish quality, their lack of depth, their lack of respect of my time.
In all honesty, what I remember best about him that summer is his overly long workshop piece laden with slightly-offensive assumptions of camaraderie and the presumption that I had the time to read it. That is what I find bothersome about following, or the implications of my following him: the presumption of shared beliefs.
It should be enough for me to quietly select unfollow and leave him to wonder why I would do such a thing. Sadly, it is not. It’s not even enough for me to craft an email telling him why. I expect he would write something about the Fifth Amendment. But, since his right to write his racist views does not infringe upon my right not read it, I will instead unfollow him and let the words fall will they may.
Originally Posted: April 16, 2009