Drama, Insults, and True Friendship

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. ~Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, c.1420

In working to create an inclusive autism blogs directory, Kathleen and I have rejected no bloggers who've asked to be listed. We have a small (less than one hand) list of sites we won't list, but other than those very few sites, we welcome everyone to the community.

We don't go around telling the bloggers they have to change what they're doing. We don't go around berating them and browbeating them because we disapprove of a facebook page they've liked.  

I have a simple rule, learned the hard way (trust me), that you don't go crap on other people's personal posts. It was a hard lesson learned by doing that, by trying to argue directly with an individual or two. 

I think you can have an energetic debate; I don't mind disagreement and discussing how we see a situation differently. In fact, I love that. Polite, respectful exchanges are lovely things that I enjoy tremendously, so feel free to tell me how we differ as I don't mind that at all.

There are lines, though, that I expect if I've facebook friended you, to not cross. Polite exchanges of how we differ are still fine. I don't mind that. Insulting me, berating me, and then attempting to push me into your course of action is not acceptable behavior for a friend. And when I write that you have hurt my feelings, failing to acknowledge that and continuing to berate me and try to push me towards what you want makes it abundantly clear that you don't respect my right to act in accordance with my beliefs.

My friendship list on facebook is diverse, just like the directory. I try to practice what I preach. As long as you want a supportive environment and to work at creating acceptance, appreciation, and accommodation for all individuals, I'm happy to be your friend. If you post something I disagree with on your facebook wall, I'm not going to tell you that you are wrong and need to do it my way. I might share a link with you, but I'm not going to argue with you, if that makes sense. My role in agreeing to be your facebook friend is to be your friend, and I don't think friends bring drama and stress, not true friends. True friends accept differences of opinions, differences of beliefs, differences of practice. True friends don't condemn you for thinking fruit is a dessert, do they, Kathleen? :-)

I'm going to do things, believe things, write things that some of my friends won't agree with, and they're going to do the same. And if we're big boys and girls who've learned our friendship lessons right, we are secure in who we are and in our friendships that they can weather these difference as long as we remember to respect each others' rights to live our own lives.

Brian Dunning has a podcast entitled Emergency Handbook: What to Do When a Friend Loves Woo. In it he discusses three strategies; the first one, "Do Nothing," I am practicing on my facebook page, although if you read the transcript or listen to the podcast, I'm not going as far as he does in terms of hoping you'll see the light and follow me and believe what I believe. Dunning writes/says: 
Doing nothing now doesn't mean giving up. When you choose not to confront your friend's current weird belief, there's still an effective strategy for helping him out that you can follow. By accepting and tolerating your friend's weird belief, you're actually setting yourself up to be in a position of great influence the next time something weird comes down the line. Your friend likely knows that you're a skeptical person, and eventually he'll recognize that you've been putting up with his weird belief and saying nothing. In fact he may someday ask you, "Hey, you know I believe in this weird thing, how come Mr. Cynical Skeptic has never tried to talk me out of it?"
 Ask "Is it important to you?"
"You're important to me."
Think what a powerful message that sends. It may sound corny, but it's a statement that your friend will always remember. You've just communicated that your friendship is more important than your "evil debunking hobby". You've made it clear, unequivocably, that you don't want such differences to come between you. (bolded for my emphasis)
Building a supportive community for me means that: you're more important. 

It doesn't mean I'm not going to counter misinformation on the blog. It doesn't mean I'm not going to woo fight. It just means that I'm going to put my friendships above that.

*Lying about stuff is a quick way to lose me as a friend, too, but that's a whole other post.*


kathleen said...

I agree, conversation discourse..etc. good things. The problem with that is someone actually has to read and respond to you-instead making a quick judgement, shutting their eyes plugging their ears and yelling "lalalalalala" I'm sorry this happened.((()))

kwesleyweaver said...

I have to remember this when it comes to my lovely Repiblican friends. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Just don't expect me to jump on your bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

I've had to learn the hard way, too. I keep working at friendly comments, but still I think I might fail, less often at least.

As much as I think I am like you, Kim, you are nicer than me. I think.

More often, I vote with my (feet) click - leaving a post rather than leaving a comment (based on aforesaid lesson). I am not blogging under a pseudonym and my opinions reflect my professional face - not 'friendship' unless I have formed an online friendship with someone - through either my blog or their blog. (I consider you and I friends.)

I think leaving a situation that cannot be politely resolved is as appropriate as being inclusive. Just saying. Barbara

Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

Yeah, I'm sorry this happened too. Totally sux. My policy with FB friends is, if you post a comment I disagree with, I keep on keepin' on. I don't disagree or start a big thing. To me it's just not worth it.

LOVE YOU!!! {{{hugs}}}

Corabelle said...

God I love the internet. In the FB universe if someone tries to start a flame war, posts something you find offensive, or threatens you in any way, all you have to do is check that little "block" button, and poof, you no longer exist to that person, they cannot harrass you or contact you in any way. If you dont like their posts you can always hide the feed. that said I am still human, so if you start a debate with me (a logical sane debate anyway) I will happily discuss at length almost any issue. But I love the fact that if it turns into a flame war, or threatning, all I have to do is hit that button, no explination, no warning, just click and problem over. ;)

KWombles said...

Taking the comments in reverse order,

Corabelle, wise words and ones I'll remember. :-)

Laura, thanks. Love you, too, and appreciate the hugs and understanding.

Barbara, I consider you a friend, too. :-) And you, too, offer wise words, sometimes leaving the situation is the best solution. Unfortunately, inclusion can only go so far, and it should never go as far as letting abusive people trample over us (certainly). I'm trying to find that line of what level of inclusion is stretching too far.

This particular situation came out of left field; it's one I'm well aware is going to get worse in terms of the wider online autism community in the coming months as I blog about a volunteer position I've taken on in my community and why I've done so. I wasn't quite ready to get attacked for having simply liked a particular facebook page, though. Hah, well that will teach me. I may go like a whole bunch of off-kilter pages just to mess with people!


:-) Yup. Politics and religion, although I find them both fascinating, I don't find worth arguing over. Or why someone should berate someone for believing differently regarding those topics. Some things, I think I just don't have any energy for, and I respect people's right to believe what they want.


Forever and always, thanks for having my back. :-)

Autism Mom Rising said...

I think I may have done this to you in the past, but it was more out of learning boundaries than any interest in flaming, as I think you may be my only FB friend outside of the Regressive Autism/cure interested subset.

I struggle with all these issue but recently it dawned on me that I don't have to jump into every lively discussion that happens. In fact it is better if I don't because it gets so distracting and I must focus all my energy on Alex's health. If I get in those discussions I will obsess on them all day. So, I'm not looking at anyone's controversial posts, period. It ain't easy but I'm doing it....and happier.

Autism Mom Rising said...

Oh & you mentioned not getting on people for what they "like" on Facebook. That reminds me - even "like" is a bizzaro world on Facebook because Andrew Wakefield "likes" Brian Deer. No kidding.

KWombles said...


No, you haven't done this; you've engaged in lively debates, but you've never insulted me nor tried to insist I do things your way. I've never minded your comments since you're trying to exchange ideas and understand where others are coming from better. There's nothing wrong with that at all. ((()))

Oh, yes, absolutely a bizarro world! That's too funny. It's like Mercola following my tweets. :-)