Over the years, I’ve watched as a lot of my fellow lefties have either unfriended or snoozed many of their pro-Trump friends on Facebook. The reasons are more or less the same: They can’t have people in their lives who could see Donald Trump’s boorish and criminal behavior, as well as his cruel policies, and still vote for him.
I was reluctant to do so, especially since there weren’t too many out-and-out deplorables among my Facebook friends. But I have my limits. For instance, when one of my friends gave a blatantly racist meme depicting Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett as apes a “haha” emoji, I had no choice but to unfriend her. I’ve dropped at least two people for spreading disinformation about masks. And I unfriended another when she defended Kyle Rittenhouse.
But none of those affected me nearly as personally as something I saw this past weekend. You may recall that rabidly pro-Trump prophet Jeff Jansen declared that the military would overthrow Joe Biden and restore Trump to office before April was out. Well, when I headed over to Elijah List’s Facebook page to report it, I was stunned to discover that among those who liked the video was one of my first online friends. Let’s call her “Suzanne.” I was even more stunned to see that she hadn’t just liked it. She’d “loved” it.
I knew Suzanne had veered right since the turn of the millennium; she flipped from Democratic to Republican shortly before we first met in 2002. But I was flabbergasted to discover that in mid-December, she updated her Facebook story to show a link to Trump’s supposed second inauguration. For those who don’t remember, event pages and group pages about Trump being sworn in for another term were popping up like weeds around this time. I called her on it, and she railed about how they were “showing proof all over the place” before letting it be known she was “done on this subject.”
Okay, so she had drunken the “Stop the Steal” Kool-Aid by the barrelful. But even then, I had never in my wildest dreams expected her to embrace calls for Biden to be overthrown. That made my blood run cold. People who condone violence—and yes, supporting a coup is, by definition, supporting violence—have no place in my life or my world, regardless of political shade.
I debated whether to give Suzanne an earful about it, but in the mood I was in, I thought I’d say something that would come back to bite me. So I simply hit the block button. It’s been more than a week, and I’m still pretty torn about it. This was someone whom I’d known for almost 19 years, who had cried with me in the aftermath of the chamber of horrors that was my first marriage. But at risk of sounding like a broken record, there was nothing, literally nothing, that even hinted that she had effectively abandoned the way of peace. That’s what she was saying in capital letters when she held down the “like” button on her phone and selected the “love” emoji.
When you’ve been friends with someone for almost 20 years, you think you know them. I literally never saw this coming. Then again, a lot of us have gotten rude surprises like this one in the last six years. Donald Trump seems to have awakened something in a lot of people—something that a lot of us didn’t know was there.