• Michael T. Christensen

Ending Two Friendships Because of “Politics” Kind Of, Not Really Tho

At the beginning of this week, I was preparing to talk to two friends about the ignorant, misleading or hostile conservative content they posted on Twitter.

By the end of the day on Tuesday, I had ended my friendship with both of them.

One of them claimed to be liberal, but perhaps she was simply too good at playing ”devil’s advocate,” because she spoke exclusively in conservative talking points. Most likely because she’s been quarantined too long with her boyfriend, and because both come from conservative families.

And whenever I or my other friends tried to talk to her about the way she was talking, she lashed out and accused us of making personal attacks. And she did so while making personal attacks.

Whenever we responded and debunked her misinformation, she would change subjects (it’s called whataboutism, and it sucks). Any attempt at a debate in good faith was nearly impossible.

So a few of us agreed to speak with her over Zoom and try to let her know how she was making us feel. And a few hours before, she sent a contract through for us to sign:

Now, we were planning to lay out some similar guidelines at the top - I wanted to make it clear to everyone that we weren’t calling her to make personal attacks; I planned to ask her to refrain from whataboutism-style rhetoric; I was going to ask everyone to use “I feel” statements, because that seems to work for therapy in movies.

But the contract is so deeply insulting. Let’s ignore the comments about recording the conversation; nothing wrong there. But asking us to concede that we “might be wrong,” asking us not to make personal attacks when that’s all she had been doing, and keeping a tally of interruptions so they can keep track of who scored the most friend points...

It was at that point that I realized these people were not my friends. They apparently hadn’t been for quite some time. Because if they thought so little of me that they’d require this contract before a conversation about how their words are affecting us? They clearly don’t know me at all.

I wish they’d told me when our friendship ended. It would’ve saved me quite a bit of effort and energy.

My roommate, and the woman’s best friend, briefly spoke with her on Zoom and tried to communicate how hurtful her rhetoric had been. He referred to the tweet where she said I had “hate in my heart,” which had upset him more than me (though not as much as it upset my fiancée Victoria).

Her response? She laughed in his face.

He hung up, and she sent him a text. Apology? No, doubling down; saying I was hateful because of how things had gone down with my former roommate, a man she didn’t know from Adam. (You’ll get to hear a bit of that story in Monday’s video.)

That’s the hill she wanted to die on. Disregarding the impact of her words, focusing her personal attacks on other people.

Oh, but don’t worry, this ties into my writing. See, this woman had started reading my book for feedback, but I asked her to hold off until the next draft is done. Well, after I’d made it very clear to her that we were not friends, she sent me this message:

“You’re probably going to ignore this, but I just wanted to say if things keep going the way they are, you’re probably going to get flack for being a cis straight white man writing about a queer minority woman.“

She’s right, of course. Some people will probably have issues with the fact that I’m writing about a character who has such a different life than my own. Everyone has a different view on that subject, and it’s always an extremely personal threshold. I made a video about it.

And she’s right. I’m going to ignore her message. Because she wrote “if things keep going the way they are.” Did she mean that I’ll get flack if I don’t make amends with her? Did she mean I’ll get flack if the government and media keep moving in a liberal direction? Does she mean I’ll get flack unless I change my book?

Who cares. Because this is a method of emotional manipulation - she’s trying to keep herself in my life by making herself necessary. But I don’t need people like that in my life.

What a week, fam. What a week.

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