My insides are completely twisted. I am finding myself trying to navigate friendships and the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The conflict is highly personal for me, I have lots of family who live in Israel and my mother’s family helped build the country from when it was Jewish Palestine into Israel. My grandfather and his siblings emigrated to Israel prior to World War II and were early pioneers with the Kibbutz movement. So, you can imagine that I am a proponent for the continued existence and peace for Israel. The challenge is how to interact with people that are friends for many years, but who subscribe to the Palestinian narrative.
It was easy before digital media, as you would see each other at various gatherings and so on. If you do talk about the subject, it is normally within certain boundaries or you close the discussion before it gets too heated. The challenge now is these positions/ thinkings that people guarded are now in your face with postings across Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other social media. It is hard not to react when you see the posting on your phone and computer, you see follow-up replies that are also like thorns in your side. I’m not saying that people should be restricted from expressing their thoughts/ opinions, but it is how to deal with those thoughts/ opinions when they are contrary to your own deeply held ones.
For me philosophical or political discussions, like topics related to President Obama, the Affordable Care Act and Supreme Court Rulings, do not bother me. They can be theoretical or abstract in nature. Also I am quite comfortable discussing pros and cons pertaining to my country, as I am a US citizen. The challenge comes in when family is in harms way, as has been the case for me over the last ten days with Hamas’ rocket attacks that purposely target civilian enclaves. So, the conversation is no longer theoretical. The conversation is very personal and lives that you personally know and love are at risk.
So, what do you do? Do you unfriend or unfollow them? Do you communicate this navigation challenge and hope that people think before they post? I have no good answer, but I expect there are lots of people out in cyberspace that have been navigating this specific challenge over the last month. It would be interesting to learn if Facebook is seeing a larger number of unfriending or unfollowing over this last month.
My hunch is YES.