Monday, August 31, 2009

You Just Think You Know Them

My friend, M.E. experienced a couple of revelations recently that made her wonder what else she didn't know about her friends.

A woman she has known for over 30 years surprised her with some very unkind remarks about President Obama. From what she said, there was little doubt in M.E.'s mind that her long-time friend was a racist. And, even worse, she is a Republican. M.E. began to wonder why she had never realized this about her friend. They have had almost daily contact and bowl on the same league. Yet, whenever M.E. has expressed her liberal viewpoint, and she expresses it loudly and often, her friend had never uttered a word. But, since Obama became president, she has finally found her voice, and has criticized him roundly and called him racist names.

And, on the heels of this revelation, M.E. was talking to another long-time friend, a classmate of hers from her nursing school. M.E. and five or six of her classmates have had annual reunions every year since the world was young, and they were on the phone, planning this year's get together, when her friend suddenly cautioned M.E. not to bring up the subject of politics, because two of their friends were staunch Republicans. M.E. was astonished. How could she have known these women so long and so well without knowing about their political opinions?

The two conversations, coming one right after another almost rendered M.E. speechless. Almost. Nothing short of the grave will ever actually accomplish this. Anyway, now M.E. is wondering what else she might find out about her friends if she ever questioned them.

I have had a couple of similar experiences lately, in my blog reading. It is so easy to think you know people after reading their blogs daily or whenever they post, for a few years. Of course, you realize you don't know them personally, never having laid eyes on them. But, you come to believe you understand their opinions and attitudes in a very basic way. I would think it would be very difficult to pretend you're someone you're not, over a period of years. Lately, I have had reason to think I might be a bit naive.

One of the bloggers I have been reading for years recently started rejecting my comments. She and I had agreed on so many things, throughout the recent presidential campaign and election, that I thought I knew her fairly well. She was very pleased, as was I, when Barack Obama was elected, and yet, scarcely a day has gone by since his inauguration that she hasn't had some complaint or other about the way he was conducting his appointments, etc. Nothing he was doing pleased her. I found it disappointing, and had the temerity to mildly disagree with her opinion. So, she stopped accepting my comments. That's ok. It's her right to accept or reject whatever comments she chooses. It just makes me wonder how we could have been in such complete agreement one day, and suddenly, no agreement at all. Go figure. Anyway, I'll keep on reading and enjoying her blog (except for the occasional rant against Obama), and just keep my comments to myself. It's disappointing, though.

Another blogger I have been reading for many years is someone I have enjoyed for her humor and writing abilities. We don't have a lot in common, generally, but I still enjoy her blog. She was disappointed when Obama was elected, because she supported Hillary, and has had some harsh things to say about him, and that doesn't bother me at all. But, recently, she had a very vitriolic post about Ted Kennedy which I think revealed an unforgiving nature, and made me think I would just delete her from my blog list. It wasn't her opinions that made me want to stop reading, it was seeing a part of her personality that she had never shown as blatantly before. It made me realize that I would not want to know her in "real life".

Have you ever been disappointed by other bloggers that you have read for a long time? I don't mean because they disagreed with you politically or on other subjects, but because they revealed something in their basic nature that you know you wouldn't like if you knew them, and you would never be close friends. This is the only time I have deleted someone from my blogroll for this reason.

Was I too hasty?

Stay tuned.


Karen said...

During the election I stopped following several bloggers because they of the incessant against Bush, Cheney, McCain and mainly Palin. One blogger was a local woman who I had planned on having dinner with weeks before.

I don't like many of Obama's policies, but I have never attacked him or his family members personally.

I also stopped following 2 blogs who made light of the events of 9-11.

I think life is too short to surround myself around people or bloggers are not respectful. However, I think it silly to end a friendship over political views.

Kell said...

I agree with Karen. I have lots of friends who are the complete opposite me politically, but we somehow manage to stay close. Probably because I just keep my mouth shut. There are people who would be shocked to find out how liberal I am on some issues. I do speak up, though, when people are just repeating the same misinformation.

But I can't handle mean-hearted, rude, and/or cruel writing. It's easy to get emotional over pet issues, I'm guilty of that myself, but hopefully I didn't get too nasty about it. They can say what they want, but I don't have to read it. There are too many wonderful blogs out there to worry about the few that you don't enjoy.

Maria said...

I think today there is more anger surrounding politics thatn I can remember except maybe at the height of the Vietnam War.

I have the feeling that some of our news and radio commentators are to blame for stirring everyone up. They have a style where they yell at each other, cut off the person speaking, and are incapable of listening to a view different than their own.

Saying this, I see no reason why we should emulate this bad behavior, but I see more and more of this kind of rudeness among all kinds of people.

Let's hope that some decorum comes back and that we respect each other even when we disagree.

kenju said...

I try not to mention politics at all, since it seems to stir up so much trouble. I haven't blocked anyone because of it, but there are bloggers I don't care to read because they are so vitriolic. I did, however, block one Facebook user because I got tired of reading so much hate on Obama, Democrats and abortion. There is so much nastiness in the world - I don't want to read about it all the time!

Grayquill said...

This comment will probably get me totally hated and I am sure will cause me to be hunted by liberals with dogs very soon. At least liberal women. I refer you to my post 28 Story Misspeak
Diane, The crux of the issue, did you notice all the examples are woman to woman. Way to sensitive.
Now I got a run I hear dogs baying. D'OH!

Arkansas Patti said...

If you want to lose friends, just bring up politics or religion. I try to avoid both for I know I can't change their minds nor they me.
I have many Republican friends and admit I am much more comfortable around Librals but I realize they are just aa patriotic as I. We just have different approaches to the same problems. Somewhere between us is probably the right answer.
The ones that I have had to scratch off my list of friends are those who are now showing their racist sides. That is no longer politics. I have gotten emails that are hate filled and even encourage violence. These people I don't need in my life. A man I thought I knew for 30 years fell into this catagory. It is sad.

Tincanman said...

During the election of Obama as President, I did stop reading and did eliminate several blogs from my preferred reader list because of intense and unexplained hatred directed towards the Clintons.

I have brothers and sisters who will not speak to me because of my political and religious beliefs and Republican friends I’ve had for over 30 years no longer have anything to do with me because of my blog posts during the Bush years. It’s sad, really.

I’m wondering if the current climate of constant radio and television hate speech by certain broadcasters is causing racist behavior against the President or if people espousing such racist garbage where racists from the jump. Guess it doesn’t matter. But anyone listening to some of these shows over and over again are bound to get the fires of hatred burning against thoughtful, rational and socially acceptable behavior whether racist or not.

NitWit1 said...

One thing I avoid in blogging is politics and specific religous doctrine dialogue, and I DO have an opinion on both and participate locally in both.

I have dear friends who are opposite of me on these two subjects.

In fact my dearest friend is, and we manage to maintain a closer than a sister relationship for 30 years.

"Campaigning" in blogging is off limits for me. If I start to read a blog that in my opinion is political I just move on.

There too many other subjects to write about.

Darlene said...

I think it's human nature to be more comfortable with people who agree with you. I have a dear friend who has diametrically opposite views on politics than I do. The only way we can remain friends is to avoid the subject completely. We discovered that we will never change the other's mind. I tried to influence this friend and almost lost the friendship because I got too personal. I valued the friendship and now I try to never mention anything political.

However, I find it makes for awkward moments and I wish the friend shared my political beliefs because we could be much closer. There is a wall between us that will never come down.

I have no qualms about disagreeing with bloggers who differ with me though and I try to correct their misconceptions when possible.

Looking to the Stars said...

I had this same thing happen to me only with people I inter act with in person. I have been flabbergasted with some peoples feelings of Obama. I never knew they were racist.

As far as the blog, I'm new and everyone I follow have the same views as me. I don't know what I would do, maybe just stay away from the topics I didn't agree with. I'm sorry you had this experiance, kiddo. You hang in there!

Word Tosser said...

I guess our parents had it correct when they said "one does not bring up religion and politics in polite conversations"... as since Obama started running, I have had more drop jaw reactions to ??friends??. I have always encourage different ideas, as I feel that is how we learn about life. But to hear some of my ??friends?? remarks of hatred, that has left me with open mouth.. I am starting to go back to my parents thoughts. I had one drop me... when she found out that I was voting for Obama, she emailed me to stay home and not vote. I would never say that to anyone... I encourage people to matter who they want. Even if it is someone I don't like at all... so she dropped me like a hot potato... at first I was hurt, but then I figured it out...I guess we were not as good friends as I thought. Difference of opinion is always good, hatred is not.

Richard Lawry said...

I am very active on a local forum in my hometown. I have been very disappointed in the level of hatred that has been shown toward President Obama. Being against a politicians policies is one thing but but I find the outright hatred and name calling to be appalling. What has shocked me is that it has been Christian people that have been the most vocal in their hatred.

An Arkies Musings

Golden To Silver Val said...

Well, I don't like to talk politics or religion because of not only mama's warning, but because there are so many different views its rare to be in agreement. I think what you believe or who you believe in is your own business as long as you don't try to force it down MY throat. This election was a strange one for me. I have always been democratic, from a democratic family, but I will admit I was cautious about Obama and NOT because of his color for God's sake. The bottom line of this is....whether you voted for the man or not....he DID win the vote and since he holds the highest office in the nation, for god's sake, respect him and give him your support. He came into a mess and I really do think he's trying. And PEOPLE....just because someone disagrees with him doesn't mean they are racists! Yes...unfortunately there are some out there that are and they have their own issues...but for the most part the complainers are just people voicing their opinions....and they would do so no matter who was holding that office. (can you imagine the sexist names Hillary would be called if she had gotten it) They want an immediate fix to something that took years to ruin. This country is in chaos and its scary. No matter what is done, there is always going to be SOMEBODY who is unhappy. I would not want to be a young couple starting out right now. So...I've said my piece and now I won't talk politics again for many years. LOL

Sansego said...

This blog post amuses me because I'm surprised that people are blind to one another's "true selves." I've been pretty good at guessing a personal political worldview, so very few people actually surprise me, even if they never talk politics and then one day out of the blue, unleash an opinion that has people scratching their heads.

Its sad that Americans have an inability to discuss politics and religion with one another. Since I lived six of the most impressionable years of my life in Europe, its much different there. People can have an emotion-free, enlightening discussion about politics or religion without getting angry. Its so different to be able to discuss things without petty name calling that often happens in the U.S.

I guess in some things, the Europeans are simply more enlightened than we are. In France, in particular, you can meet someone and engage in a conversation about politics and religion...but bringing up family and jobs is more of a taboo. Its the opposite here. I prefer the French way, because family is too private to share with just anyone, and I don't love my job enough to talk about it. I'd rather talk about the more important things...which I consider politics and religion to be. Sigh. I was born in the wrong country.

patsy said...

I loked at your list to make sure you had not deleted me, I did a post on Teddy and I hoped you didn't find me as uncarrying about his death. I think the most amazing thing about the Kennedy brothers was their consern for the puplic that have less advantages than they had.
as for Obama some people are closet racist and our president has brought them out in the open not all are republins either.

patsy said...

oh yeah, the Duggards are expecting again that was why I came over to see if you knew that bit of news.

betty said...

Karen: You and I don't agree on everything, politically, but here we are, reading and commenting. I think you probably stopped reading mine at the height of the presidential campaign, tired of my ranting about Palin, but that's ok. I get carried away about politics, sometimes, but I wouldn't delete someone for their political views.

betty said...

I can always find things to like about my friends than their political views. Of course, there was this one guy I refused to date back in college, because he voted against JFK. lol Still, he agreed to sing at my wedding when the time came.

Maria: I agree with you about the commentators in the national media.

kenju: I've always been interested in politics, but even moreso this time around.

Grayquill: You're much too nice for anyone to hate you. I'll convert you yet!

Arkansas Patti: I'll delete the racists every time.

tincanman: I think you're right about the media fanning the flames. There was a time when the media reported both sides. No more.

Nitwit1: Now that the election is over, I try to blog about other things, but I have to admit, I get mouthy when it comes to politics.

betty said...

Darlene: I'll probably continue to blog about healthcare occasionally, because I think it's so important for us to pass a good bill.

Looking to the Stars: I find I don't miss the blog I deleted, now that I know her true colors.

Word Tosser: A good friendship usually can't be hurt by differing political views.

richie: As far as I'm concerned, those people aren't real Christians, or they wouldn't have such hatred in their hearts.

Golden to Silver Val: People have made sexist remarks about Hillary since she was Arkansas' first lady. Think how much worse it would have been if she had won the primary.

Sansego: We have lost the ability to be civil in this country. Too bad.

Betty said...

patsy: I have a soft spot for the Kennedys, all of them. And, yes indeed, I have heard about the Duggars expecting AGAIN!

L.J. Diva said...

Wow, sometimes it takes something little to happen for a lot to come out.

I think that if you like the look of someone's blog (in the way they write or what they write about), then follow.

If not, then don't.

But after so much time, whenever their beliefs come out, you either understand those beliefs are there's alone and you don't have to agree. Or you choose to leave.

I think it depends on what is said, and the way it gets said.

If the person sounds too vile for your tastes, don't bother.

If you understand it's their opinion, and don't care, stay a member.

It somes down to personal taste and what you do and don't want to read about.

Betty said...

Jewels: I can usually tell within a few days if I am going to like a blog, but the one I deleted had me fooled.

Betty said...

Kell: Sorry I didn't reply to your comment. I do agree with you that there are too many interesting blogs out there and not enough time to read them all. So, you don't want to waste time with the ones you don't like.

Margaret Hall said...

Wow, Betty~!! Been away from reading blogs for a few days, was swamped in other stuff, but I think it is marvelous that you posted as you did, and have such lengthy, interesting comments~!! I come to your blog because of your STRENGTH in what you post and say,...and if I disagree with what you or anyone else expresses, then it is my choice to either stick to my convictions or meander away. If the readers cannot agree on a topic posted at a blog, then present the ideas gently, not rudely or with a political slur~!!
Betty, keep on bloggin'..((which we all know you will))) and I applaud you for making your own decisions as to whom you follow or delete from your list...Anyway, I come for the diversity of your thoughts...

Susan said...

I have deleted some from my list - not so much because of viewpoints, but because they became boring!

I know it is possible to have respectful exchanges on politics and religion, but as has been expressed by others, the media seems to be focused on fear, anger and mis-unformation. Lobbists have been out there raising the levels of rudness and intolerance. It is important for us as a society to remain civil.