Friday, December 30, 2016

Watching family members fight on Facebook...

I am blessed with a large and mostly wonderful family, especially on my dad's side.  My mom's family is very small.  She had one brother who had one daughter with his first wife.  His second wife had daughters with her first husband, but I don't think I ever met them.  I haven't seen my cousin on my mom's side since my wedding day back in 2002.

My dad, on the other had, had eight brothers and sisters, seven of which lived to adulthood and reproduced.  Consequently, I have many cousins, and a lot of them are my Facebook friends.  A lot of my cousins have cousins from their parents who married into my family.  It's always interesting to watch them interact with one another.

One thing I have noticed from my dad's side of the family is that most everyone is very friendly, loving, entertaining (lots of musical talent especially), funny, and, most of all, opinionated.  My dad's side of the family is overwhelmingly politically conservative and they tend to be very open to sharing their views.  Add the personality traits of my dad's side of the family to other influences and the end results can be very interesting to observe.

Take, for instance, my Uncle Ed.  His late wife was a very outspoken and opinionated woman.  She was a lot of fun and very good hearted.  She had a wonderful sense of humor.  But God help you if you ever got into a discussion or debate with her because she would get up in your face and argue with you non-stop.  She and my uncle had four sons, all of whom share that double dose of argumentativeness. I love my Uncle Ed's sons very much.  They have some wonderful qualities.  But I don't enjoy talking about politics with them because my beliefs are pretty much opposed to theirs.

One of Ed's sons recently got into a political disagreement with some folks from his mother's side of the family.  Having known his mom and remembering how very outspoken she was, it was kind of eerie watching her relatives-- people I have never met-- arguing with my cousin on Facebook.  It was getting pretty fierce and, in fact, was downright ugly toward the end.  Actually, for all I know, the fight might still be raging.

Watching the argument made me think about the people in my family and the traits we all share.  There is definitely something to genetics.  For instance, when I feel strongly about something, I don't mind discussing it.  I don't want to argue until someone "wins", though, because I mostly think it's a waste of time and energy.  My cousins from that particular branch of the family, on the other hand, love to argue to the death.  I can see why they are that way because I know both of their parents.  I am sure their kitchen family saw many debates that went on for hours, fueled by beer and bourbon.  They all love each other, but they will argue non-stop until someone "wins".

When Bill and I were in Ireland last month, one of my cousins from that part of the family tried to argue politics with me.  He is very much a Trump supporter and he and another family member took exception to some comments I made about the president-elect.  When I asked them not to condescend to me, my cousin accused me of equating a difference of opinion to "condescension".  Actually, I don't have a problem with differing perspectives.  I do have a problem with people who speak to me as if I'm intellectually disabled.  I don't think being overbearing and insulting is what wins arguments, but that's the fighting style I saw coming from both sides of my cousin's family.  It made me wonder what it's like when they get together for family gatherings.

Then I noticed one of my aunts weighing in with support for my cousin.  This particular aunt seems to dislike me.  The older I get, the more I realize that people in my family don't seem to like me very much anymore.  It could be because I have a different perspective than they do.  I don't live in the United States right now, but when I am living there, I don't necessarily go around waving the flag and crowing about how awesome the country is.  I will always love the United States because it's my home, but it has some very deep flaws.  There's a lot to love about the U.S.A, but there's also a lot to dislike about it.  Living abroad several times in my life has taught me that.

It must be nice to be so sure about one's beliefs that it feels comfortable to just steamroll over anyone who disagrees.  I will give my cousin credit for keeping his responses mostly calm, while his relative was a lot more emotional in her comments.  But overall, neither of their responses didn't seem very friendly or loving the way family should be toward each other.  Worst of all, they were doing this on Facebook for everyone to see.

When I was growing up, my immediate family members used to fight somewhat often.  Because I was in the family, I was involved in some of the fights.  I don't miss those days.  I don't enjoy conflict much, although I realize that sometimes it's necessary.  I'm just glad I live a lifestyle that doesn't force me to fight a lot with people... especially on forums like Facebook.  It just seems like there are more productive ways to spend the limited time we have on Earth than getting into pointless arguments, especially about politics.


  1. God help us all if my dad's family ever becomes linked on FB in a major way.

    1. Oh yeah. Things could get contentious.


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