"I'm a [such-and-such] - if that bothers you, perhaps you should uncircle me"(or perhaps you shouldn't)
Now and again I see these posts, where a person announces to all and sundry that they are [something that they expect some people to have a problem with] and that if you have a problem with that, perhaps you should uncircle them. Now before I go on I want to make it very clear that I'm not here to take issue with those who post that sort of stuff - I totally understand where they're coming from. In fact, I have the feeling I've done similar myself when sharing about a particular view I hold which is highly controversial. And I'm pretty sure I said something like that way back in the Nymwar days when I came out as a pseudonym user. I'm not here to have a go at those who post this sort of stuff - I'm here to talk about our reactions when we read it, or, more generally, when we discover that there is something that bothers us about a person. It could be an opinion, a religious belief, or something about the way they live - stuff that you feel strongly about, or else it wouldn't be an issue. I'm here to suggest that when someone says "if that bothers you, perhaps you should uncircle me", perhaps you shouldn't.
I have two specific examples in my mind. One was pretty recent and the issue was about the person's sexuality; another was a long time ago and it was to do with the person's strongly held views on abortion, to which I remember responding with something along the lines of: I get the impression we disagree on this, but I'm cool with disagreeing and staying friends. I have never regretted that, not for a minute. And not because either of us have changed our minds as a result - we haven't. But because there's more to this person than their views on abortion, just as there's more to me than mine; and I'd miss out on so much if I uncircled everyone who strongly disagreed with me about abortion, or about God, or about creation, or about sexuality, or about, I don't know, bacon.
I think it's really healthy to have people in your life who are a something-or-other-that-bothers-you. I started looking through my circles to see who might qualify for that, who posts stuff that bugs me, but I quickly stopped because, well, most people sometimes will, and if they don't it's probably because they just don't post much or because they keep to safe topics, which I think is kind of sad. I'd much rather get to know the whole person as they are than be shown some kind of airbrushed version.
When it comes to different points of view, I think it's healthy to be exposed to different ones - it can sharpen your thinking, it can give you insights into why people see things differently so you can understand them better, and it's a lot more interesting than just nodding with a bunch of people who agree with you.
When it comes to issues of how we live our lives, whether it's sexuality or food or recycling or whatever, I think it's really helpful to get to know people who do stuff that bothers you because it's in those personal connections that we can break the destructive power of prejudice and we can all see that we're each of us a human being who is sincerely trying to live as best we can. Sure, we're going to disagree about some of this stuff, and sometimes disagree very strongly. But let's disagree from a place of love and compassion and understanding, and not from a place of standing at a distance and throwing stones (or holding up placards).
So, my reaction when someone says "I'm a such-and-such and if that bothers you, perhaps you should uncircle me" is to say: whether that bothers me or not, that's not grounds for uncircling.
And perhaps this is the point where I should list some stuff about me that might bother you, in case you do want to uncircle me. I had someone recently walk off in a huff after discovering to his shock that he'd accidentally circled a Christian... so here, in case you haven't figured this out yet, is a list of some things about me that might bother you:
I'm a born-again evangelical Christian.
I'm a Messianic Jew.
I'm a creationist.
I'm a complementarian.
I'm a Zionist Israeli.
I'm a car driver.
I'm a meat eater.
I sometimes post cat pics.
I don't eat bacon.
I do eat lasagna.
There's probably more. I'm sure someone might believe in uncircling people who share good night posts, or who have a virtual penguin. Or people who post long ramblings. Or people who post short bits of silliness. Or those whose first name ends with a V :)
anyway, my bottom line is really: don't uncircle people just because there's stuff about them that bothers you. you'll have a much more boring life if you do, and you'll never find out what fabulous people they are and how much you have in common, nor will you learn to understand where they're coming from. in fact, they'll remain "they" - forever distant, other, weird, people you "just don't understand". here's a tip: if you don't take the trouble to get to know someone, you won't be able to understand them. #thisishowiplus #gplusmusings #uncircling