Students talk unfriending over politics

Heather Vosburgh and Tanner DeVore

Eastern students say they have mixed feelings about unfriending people on social media due to political disagreements and differences.

Psychology student Chris Mikkelsen says unfriending someone because of their political views limits conversation about important political topics.

“If you unfriend someone based on their political views, it sort of eliminates any sort of discussion before it begins. I know a lot of things nowadays have a lot to do with Civil Rights and other related things. I think that would constitute as more of a moral issue that shouldn’t call for a debate, but actual political issues like diplomacy and economics, I think that warrants a real discussion,” Mikkelsen said. “When people unfriend each other or shut each other out, it just kind of prevents real movement forward.”

Mikkelsen said he has never unfriended someone or been unfriended because of political views, but he said if someone was “aggressive” or “demeaning” towards someone else, then unfriending them might be justified.

Darse Sanchez, a biological science major, said she wouldn’t typically unfriend someone because of their political views.

“It all depends on how you treat people, in my opinion. If someone needs help and you just spit on them, that shows you and your characteristics as a person and then I would not agree with you. I feel like everybody has their own opinions that people don’t vocalize every day,” said Sanchez. “That doesn’t change who you’re friends with, it just depends on how they treat you.”

Sanchez says she has had to unfriend someone for following their political beliefs, but only because they were mistreating others.

“I have unfriended someone because of how they treat others, following their political views,” said Sanchez. “I had an ex-friend once that believed in something that I didn’t believe in and that was cool, but it got to the point where she started treating our friend group differently and that was when I had to stop being friends with her.”

Keith Nelson, a television & video production major, displayed similar views to Mikkelsen.

“Well, I feel like everybody should have the right to opinions. Just because if we censor even bad opinions, that’s not freedom of speech. We just have to accept the negative as well as the positive. If someone really feels that strongly about how you feel, and they want to unfriend you, I would just say, unfriend me,” Nelson said. “Because if you don’t like one opinion, you’re not going to like the rest of them.”

Nelson was asked if he would unfriend someone just because of who they voted for. President Donald Trump was used as an example.

“I don’t really care. As long as you don’t put some negative thoughts around me. If you have views about him or whatever, let’s just stay on the topic of him, for instance, if you have some views about him that are negative, I would accept it. And then I would understand your view,” Nelson said. “And then I would delegate the conversation with my view as well.”

“We can have a polite, calm debate, not an argument because arguments are yelling, going for people’s, you know, something that people can’t control or whatnot. You can control ideas and ideologies. You can switch ideologies once you understand something.”

Students seem to feel that respectful discourse is the proper way to interact with someone whose views differ from theirs.

“If you really think this way and if I tried my hardest to properly change your mind and you still believe that, like, you’re diehard to that opinion then yeah, I can’t change it. I just have to walk away. Because

I’m always like, ‘Oh, well, let me try and change your mind first’, but if it’s concrete into your mind then there’s no way getting around it. I just have to do what’s best for me and not get into it,” Nelson said.

Lyric Ailshire, a junior biological science student, says it’s reasonable to unfriend someone due to their political views.

“Personally, I think it’s absolutely acceptable because so many political views don’t respect someone else’s identity or their existence, so I see no issue with unfriending them after that,” said Ailshire.

Ailshire says unfriending is permissible when someone is trying to infringe on another person’s rights.

“Personally, as an independent, my issue is when your political views disrespect someone else’s human rights, so it’s not even a voting for Trump or voting for Biden thing,” said Ailshire. “But if you want to take away someone’s rights as a human, whether it’s the right to the Second Amendment or it’s someone’s gender or sexual identity, that’s when there’s an issue and that’s when unfriending someone is okay.”

Ailshire said she has unfriended people, including family members, and has been unfriended, too.

“I actually get unfriended a lot. I identify as a Democrat; however, I do have some more conservative values,” said Ailshire. And because of that, I make enemies on both sides of the political parties, especially with family, they unfriend me a lot because I have views that aren’t completely democratic and views that aren’t completely republican.”


Heather Vosburgh and Tanner DeVore can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]