Like many Facebook members, I have quite a few friends that I either don't know at all or have some vague, long-forgotten connection to. For example, I recently confirmed someone who shares my love of chicken pot pie. One never knows what exciting networking possibilities such a friendship might one day lead to.
Usually, when I'm about to confirm a friend request, I study their timelines first, if possible. in order to check out their backgrounds, their compatibility and how obsessive they are about their pets. If they are practicing cannibals or Amish warlocks or if their favorite book is The Dummies Guide to Building a Nuclear Weapon, I will generally pass. A shared love for chicken pot pie is not worth a visit from Homeland Security.
Religion doesn't usually matter to me, although I try to steer clear of Nihilist Fundamentalists, and the term "spiritual" frightens me.
Education is of no serious concern (I'm not a snob), but if my potential friend played first base for Taliban State University, I might have second thoughts, in spite of whatever curiosity I might harbor regarding their team mascot.
But I do look at political views. I'm a Liberal Democrat. My political views are unshakable. If my potential friend is an unaffiliated moderate or a Libertarian or even a Whig, I'm okay with that.
But what if he or she is a Republican and I didn't know it when we friended each other? What then?
In some cases, I might overlook party affiliation. After all, not all Republicans are delusional. He or she might like Lincoln or Eisenhower and that's fine with me. But what if he or she is a flag-waving, Bible-thumping, gay-bashing, personhood-advocating, vaginal-probing, Norquist-loving, evolution-denying, anti-Roe v. Wade Republican? For me, it's a moral issue.
So what do I do?
About a year ago, I received a friend request from a guy who, in his profile, claimed to be a Moderate. No problem there. Plus I kind of knew him because we had both written for the same blog site. There was no mention of chicken pot pie, which I found disturbing, but I confirmed his request anyway.
But a few weeks ago, while checking the ads to the right of the news feed, (which I do only when the feed entries are insufferably mundane, i.e. frequently), I noticed that he had "liked" two of them. One was a promotion for a line of sexy male underpants that magically create a bogus genital bulge and the other was an "I Support Mitt Romney" ad.
So I unfriended him, thinking that he would never know. What I didn't realize is that some Facebook members -- the more OCD ones anyway -- regularly check their list of friends to see if one is missing.
An hour after I unfriended him, he messaged me and demanded an explanation. I know from experience that trying to convert a Romney supporter is only a good idea if you suffer from abnormally low blood pressure. Given the choice, I'd rather hit myself repeatedly about the head with a croquet mallet. So I didn't bring up the subject.
Dispensing with the amenities, he asked me, "Is it because I checked that ad?"
I sighed, thinking that a diatribe was looming. Cringing, I wrote the word "yes."
"You have a lot of nerve," he told me.
"I'm sorry," I replied. "My views on this subject are pretty strong."
"How can you be so close-minded?" he continued. "It's only underwear."