An Argument For Not Blocking Your Ridiculously Stupid And/Or Racist Facebook Friends » VSB

Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

An Argument For Not Blocking Your Ridiculously Stupid And/Or Racist Facebook Friends

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.)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Babyu21

    I have to admit I unfriended someone after the Trayvon Martin verdict came down. I was in an angry place and he was on his white entitlement kick and I just couldn’t take it.

  • niksmit

    I see your reasoning and you may have just convinced me to unfriend a distant cousin on Facebook. I vacationed in my peak Blackness hometown and commiserated with my intelligent, thoughtful relatives over the holiday. This only drove home to me that I’m surrounded by ignorance in my daily life. I don’t need that in my place to like honor roll, wedding, and baby pics.

  • I think I dodged a bullet when it comes to unfriending/unfollowing folks when it comes to recent events. I haven’t checked Facebook or Twitter since September. I can only imagine the destruction that’s occurring there.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    Too much happened in such a short period of time:

    Bashing Obama’s girls
    Black Stormtroopers in the new Star Wars movie getting hate
    St Louis

    I may not unfriendly you on FB but you may not see me around much based upon your comments and your willingness / unwillingness to respectfully see the other side.

    • “Black Stormtroopers in the new Star Wars movie getting hate”

      I didn’t know there was a new Star Wars movie but I still haven’t seen the last three.

      • Lea Thrace

        Those three do not exist. 4-6 are the only Star Wars movies. And not the stupid Lucas edits of 4-6 either. Han shot first dammit!

        • I was never the biggest Star Wars guy. Funny you mentioned the edits because I’ve never seen those either.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            You didn’t miss much. I find it funny that you can have talking poop (Jabba!!!), animals, and other stuff in space but brothas can’t exist.

    • “Black Stormtroopers” is this weeks new fake name for my new fake band.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Can I play the bass guitar in this fake band?

      • miss t-lee

        I got dibs on the triangle.

  • Outside of my sister and a couple people from VSB there are seldom any political opinions on my Facebook feed thankfully. So I do not know this struggle.

  • Lea Thrace

    “Negro Omniscient” has now been added to my lexicon. Thanks for that.

    I am very thankful that save for one person (high school acquaintance), my timeline was flooded with positive statements (read: statements that agreed with my position) about all the topics du jour (Ferguson, Cosby, Sasha & Malia shade, Black Stormtrooper, lordy this list goes on. Why was there just so much to talk about this past week. Sheesh!). It made me feel good that no only are my real life friends level headed positive people, but so are my online, far away, sometimes imaginary friends.

  • KingJames870

    I didn’t find it necessary to unfriend anyone even though I was educated on the political and racial beliefs of my friends list. Not just Ferguson and Cosby, but the whole Obama presidency. One reason I have a cornucopia of friends is to gain multiple perspectives on lives from different eyes and mindsets, and it would be close-minded to unfriend someone because they think differently than you.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      The balance is when someone knows they are being an azz or when you have a point of view that can be articulated. I had this discussion the first time someone threw shade at the Obama girls. They put a picture of JFK’s son from his dad’s funeral next to Sasha and Malia at the coronation and said the Obama girls needed home training. I asked how was this an apples to apples comparison and they couldn’t articulate so they got blocked.

      • KingJames870

        If you can’t intelligently articulate an opposing view then I agree with blocking/unfriending someone. That’s a lost cause. I also hate when people deflect with something that has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          My favorite deflection buster is when someone says Dr King would have…… I say if you wanted to know what he thought you shouldn’t have offed him and he could have told you himself.

    • PunchDrunkLove

      “…..it would be close-minded to unfriend someone because they think differently than you.”

      My thoughts exactly.

      Everyone is entitled to voice their thoughts and opinions. There is a difference in folks adamantly disagreeing versus trolling. Just because a person does not agree does not = troll. I haven’t posted nor said too much on Cosby, or the Ferguson killing….for reason.

  • Pinks

    A lot of my FB friends were the ones pointing out others’ stupidity, but I did see sprinklings here and there of “All them heffas are lying” and “HOORAY for Wilson” (in not so many words, but through passive aggressive statuses about civilians not knowing the law – from a conservative black woman who is in law enforcement).

    I left a group I was added to a while back because that street harassment video had all the creepy men coming out the closet with the “y’all should be glad we say hello, ungrateful wenches” statements, and the final straw that broke my back was a woman asking “Did you die? Did he eat you alive?” in response to my comment that I was followed by a creep on a train from car to car whispering that he wanted to literally eat me alive.

    I n longer wish to subject myself to people’s nonsense.

    • Angel Baby

      LOL “in response to my comment that I was followed by a creep on a train from car to car whispering that he wanted to literally eat me alive.”
      GIRL WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?! Did you laugh at him to ease the tension for wanting to run for your life or whoop his ***?!?!?!?! OMG SMH ninjas and flies boy ninjas and flies!

      • Pinks

        I asked him to leave me alone and went to another train car, which he then followed me into. A guy on that car told him to stop bothering me or he’d f*ck him up, which I was grateful for but also pissed about because it usually takes male interference in some respect for other men to realize they need to respect a woman’s wishes. Like in the past when men wouldn’t accept no for an answer until I said I had a crazy man who made me wear a camera (I really said that once) – so you respect the thought of another dude being upset with you more than me flat out telling you to get lost?

    • MsSula

      “I n longer wish to subject myself to people’s nonsense.”

      This in a nutshell. I refuse to subject myself to people’s crazy. I have enough crazy on my own, and deal with enough crazy on the regular. I will keep FB and social media for my veg out moments. Ignorance will be ignored, defriended, blocked. Point blank. :)

  • iamnotakata

    I really don’t even know who I am associals with on fb…I was just thinking the other day who the hell are these 490 people I am “friends” with on here…but anyways despite 99% of my associates being from conservative TX there wasn’t not one go Wilson racist post that strolled down my timeline. I was surprised though because I group up with a klan behind my middle school? Who knows progress with white people?

  • Meridian

    Yeah, thankfully most of the people around me both online and offline are black/ethnic. The few white people around were totally supportive and understanding. I’m crediting that to the quality of my friends but I also spend a lot of time screening mofos specifically because I don’t wanna be hanging out with some closet racists. I will say, it’s very odd existing in the world after this. I feel very polarized and just…this situation feels unresolved to me and there’s nothing I can do about it. I want whatever systemic thing that allows those people to do what they did to the citizens of Ferguson to be completely and totally erased from existence. Then I want something healthier and more efficient to be put in place for the benefit of that community. The support they’re getting in other ways from every walk of life, all over the world, is just mind blowing. But for me? I wish the people protesting and those who are acting in solidarity would put their energy towards THAT instead. Millions of people and all their resources going towards dismantling the power structure in the area that allowed something like this to happen. Protests are great. Boycotts are great. Outrage is great. It still won’t change anything and that doesn’t sit right with me. I need to see that situation remedied — not pacified. Without that I’m an aggravated, restless extremist. I definitely hate every white person I know and I secretely root for their downfall. Like, if my white friends were dying of dehydration I’d drink a glass of water right next to them and then pee it on the flowers I won’t plant on their graves. Because, f*ck them. But, they are good people’s.

    • This post both confused and amused me. lol

      • Meridian

        What are you confused about?

        • whether or not I should be amused! lol.

          Your white friends are good peoples and you definitely hate them. But…I get it.

          • Meridian

            In my personal life, if something wrong/unjust/dishonest happens than I flush it out and make sure it’s appropriately dealt with. That’s resolving the core of an issue and keeps me feeling peaceful. I can only do that in my space though, on a personal level for my own life. The fact that I have to watch these sort of things happen and not see any sort of conflict resolution or growth is what makes me not accepting of them. The fact that I can’t make my country or even other black people reflect that characteristic makes me unsettled inside myself. My friends are great people and the race relations between us are pretty comfortable for me, even in these raw moments, but…they’re still white. I’m apathetic towards them. I’m serious about that. I WAS attempting to be lighthearted though so it’s okay to be amused lol.

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