Friend or Unfriend

IWSGA post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Recently, one of my online friends unfriended me. It happens. The reason for the unfriending was that I commented on one of his posts, a book review (not of my book but of one of the classics) and expressed an opinion that was different from his own. I wasn’t rude; I just think differently. He commented back, saying that I always disagree with him. I didn’t, not really. I liked many of his posts; they were informative and fun. I replied to his comment and apologized. I didn’t want to offend him. I don’t wish to offend anyone. After my apology, he unfriended me.

That little episode stated me thinking. There is lots of noise online about writers reacting explosively to negative reviews of their books. Some writers go to extremes and behave in a totally unforgivable way. And the reviewers everywhere are unhappy about that. I understand. I never comment on anyone’s review of my own novels, even if I disagree with their critiques.

But if reviewers expect writers to be polite and accepting, whenever someone criticizes their writing, shouldn’t they prove their point by example? Shouldn’t they tolerate different opinions in the comments to their own posts and reviews? If they’re allowed to criticize, doesn’t that mean everyone is allowed, too?

The lesson I learned from the entire situation: I won’t express a disagreement with anyone again. If I disagree with their opinion, I’ll stay quiet. I’ll only comment or ‘like’ their posts if I agree. I don’t want anyone to unfriend me again. It makes me feel sad, unwanted. Besides, I really liked his posts in my feed. I’ll miss them.

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12 Responses to Friend or Unfriend

  1. blondeusk says:

    Good post! Got me thinking – Thx

  2. Olga, you make me feel so sad, but let me put this in writing, if you ever disagree with my opinion. Express yourself. The only reason I have ever unfriended anyone was for spewing nothing but hate. I welcome debate, and respect diversity of opinions. Some people are just too angry to understand online respect.

  3. Olga Godim says:

    I don’t know, Rebecca. Dealing with disagreements from the others isn’t easy. It requires lots of tact. Maybe I lack it? Maybe I didn’t express myself in a correct way. But I promise you: if I ever disagree with you, I’ll tell you. As tactfully as I can. 🙂

  4. silveroinks says:

    I might be putting you to the test here. The internet has a lot of problems, one of which is certainly intolerance. But another is just as certainly the avoidance of conflict at the expense of meaningful dialogue. One who never disagrees is, to me, like a “reviewer” who 5-stars everything. That person is either (a) totally undiscriminating or (b) less than honest. Either way, it’s a person I tend to ignore because…well, what’s the point if that person’s opinion is worthless on the one hand or, on the other, kept secret from me. That isn’t dialogue.

    • Olga Godim says:

      You’re right, silveroinks. The issue is: not everybody wants a dialog. Some just want freedom to express their opinions. They’re not interested in the opinions of others.

      • silveroinks says:

        Oh, well, for me the issue was you saying you were going to stop disagreeing with anyone. I’m saying, don’t let the dullards dictate your actions. : -)

  5. cgcoppola says:

    Sucks people can be so immature sometimes. If you’re putting your art out there, you have to accept that it may not be received so well. Or with varying opinions. Sorry you got unfriended 😦

  6. Nick Wilford says:

    It’s a sad state of affairs. What happened to healthy debate? It’s not like you insulted his family! If you put any sort of work out there, including reviews, you expect criticism. But this wasn’t even criticism, it was a different opinion. People should be able to handle that.

  7. dolorah says:

    Disagree with me all you want on a post, a review, a comment, or a critique of your own work. Life is full of diversity, and differing opinions. If your difference is not laced with hatred, violence, or just plain vengence, then no reason to keep your opinion to yourself. YOu may point out facts or sentiments that I missed, something that may positively influence or affect me. People who unfriend or deny your right to disagree aren’t worth your time in a friendship anyways. There are plenty of people out there who allow their friends to be real people, with thoughts and experiences, and yes, opinions of their own. The above comments show how few people are truly offended by a difference of opinion.

  8. If they’re allowed to criticize, doesn’t that mean everyone is allowed, too – you have a very good point. If you were polite about it and didn’t attack the reviewer, then that’s his problem, not yours. I don’t post book reviews, but I post movie reviews sometimes, and there are always people who disagree. And that’s fine by me.

  9. cheriereich says:

    That’s really sad. People should be able to have different opinions and express them–as long as they aren’t mean/hateful about it. If that person unfriends you over that, then you’re probably better off without being friends with that person.

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