Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Ever seen the movie, the Stepford Wives? White picket fences, sweet suburbian housewives, everything almost identical and seemingly perfect?
Obviously, it could never be real. And if it was, it wouldn’t last long.
The world we live in is the same– we can’t all like the same things, watch the same things, listen to the same music, and have all the same thoughts and opinions. We would hit a standstill and just… completely stop growing and advancing. Without anyone to challenge our views, to think of something fresh and different, we would simply become stagnant.
Not just that, but if we filter our surroundings for things that only fit our specific views and ideas, our friend group and social network would keep getting smaller and smaller, until we had no one left. Humans are social beings, and it wouldn’t take long for us to suffer the consequences of having no one left around.
So what should we do if a friend, colleague, mentor, etc gets “canceled”? Should we immediately jump on the bandwagon of tearing them down? Should we end a longtime friendship over xyz? Or should we use the opportunity to communicate with them, try and understand their point of view, and have an open conversation about the subject?
That would be a way we could all learn.
Take for example Patton Oswalt’s 34-year long friendship with comedian Dave Chappelle.
In 2021, Chappelle’s Netflix special “The Closer” came under fire for trans- and homophobic material– so much so that LGBTQ+ employees of Netflix were planning a walk-off from the set. Wait a minute, isn't Chapelle allowed to have his own opinions? Aren't you allowed to disagree with him and make a choice to not watch his specials anymore?
Oswalt received his own backlash after posting a picture of himself and Chappelle to Instagram.
He soon after wrote a detailed follow-up post discussing the friendship and his own opinions on the matter.
"For all the things he’s helped ME evolve on, I’ll always disagree with where he stands NOW on transgender issues. But I also don’t believe a seeker like him is done evolving, learning. You know someone that long, see the struggles and changes, it’s impossible to cut them off. Impossible not to be hopeful and open and cheer them on. Also, I’ve been carrying a LOT of guilt about friends I’ve cut off, who had views with which I couldn’t agree, or changed in ways I couldn’t live with. Sometimes I wonder – did I and others cutting them off make them dig their heels in deeper, fuel their ignorance with a nitro-boost of resentment and spite?" [X]
It’s a perfect example of “agree to disagree” and for every person, their “deal-breaker” opinions, etc. are different. What one person might tolerate from people could be the nail in the coffin for another. Truly, each person is unique in what they are willing to tolerate or handle in their relationships, and that does need to be respected.
And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it boils down to?
Respecting our fellow peers and their opinions should be the bare minimum. Even if we disagree, unless that person disrespects us first, respect should be there. That’s what friendship should be built on.
There’s also something to be said about how little we know celebrities as people.
Even though we see them all the time, and we may start to feel like we know them, we really don’t. And someone who has been friends with one another for 30+ years probably knows them better than us watching from the internet.
Instead of dropping someone for a differing view, ask yourself what value they bring to your life. Do they enrich your life? Do you enrich theirs? Is your relationship mutual, loving, and enjoyable? Is what you’re differing on a deal-breaker? Or is this something you can move past and continue your friendship?
Sometimes the views are just too different. And cutting that friendship loose could be the healthiest option for both of you. But think of this as well: having someone there to challenge our way of thinking keeps us open to new information. It ensures we don’t become stale and stubborn in our old ways, and keeps us moving forward.
And that is a wonderful thing!