I have a lifelong friend that I mainly keep in touch with via Facebook and a few random text messages on the holidays. Lately he’s been posting a lot of QAnon conspiracy theory stuff and also some straight-up racist memes on social media. (Breonna Taylor deserved her fate, for example, since her name was on the warrant, too.) Thankfully, he hasn’t texted any to me—yet. I just hate looking at this stuff. It’s so disappointing and hurtful, because I’m not white like he is, and it makes me question if I’m actually safe around him, though we haven’t been in each other’s physical presence for years.
Lastly, he has bipolar disorder, and his condition is chronic, meaning that even when his medications are working properly, he still acts in a way that others would think of as wacky. I worry that his diagnosis makes him more gullible to conspiracy theory stuff. I know that people with mental illness need support, but I really don’t want to read this ridiculous shit from him on social media. Should I cut off contact or try to talk with him about it? I kinda want to just cut him off. We rarely talk as it is.
I haven’t had to deal with anything this serious as far as friends getting sucked into conspiracy theories, but I do have a few friends who are preppers out West, real “sovereign citizen” types. They believe conspiracy theories that blow QAnon out of the water, and they think it’s really just a “psy-op” to distract people from the true workings of the deep state. Seriously, QAnon isn’t fringe enough for them. They changed their entire lives years ago in preparation for Armageddon.
The good thing about them is that, while they believe some out-there type stuff, most of it is fairly grounded in reality (secret shadow government that makes deals at Bohemian Grove, that kind of stuff) and they don’t have any mental health diagnoses that I’m aware of. They’re sane adults choosing what to believe and, for that reason, I don’t have any problem with it. I wouldn’t have any issue with your friend’s perspective if it were more grounded, and if his mental health issues were not clearly exacerbating your concern.
Honestly, as a person of color like you, I find the racism to be almost the biggest issue for me. Also like you, I’ve had white people in my life who held blatantly racist opinions, and I’m willing to bet that this guy would not agree that he is racist if you confronted him about it. Been there, done that, and it’s rarely worth the triggering and hurtful argument it causes. I mean, it’s up to you if you wanna talk this out with him, but you already are not in contact with him much, so why change that? You do not need to subject yourself to racism or racist abuse, ever.
You saw some hateful crap on his Facebook page, but luckily he hasn’t directly reached out to you to try to indoctrinate you himself. I think it’s in your best interest to unfriend and unfollow him on social media, and don’t start any conversations that you aren’t down to finish. Even if you do, you have every right to just walk away.
I have had relationships with people whose mental health diagnoses were chronic, too, and I’ve had to make hard choices about how much I can have them in my life. At the end of the day, you have to consider the good that comes from being friends with this person and how it measures up to the bad that comes along with it. We are not bad people for prioritizing our own mental health in the face of someone with their own struggles, and I think that for people of color, collective racial trauma absolutely affects our mental health. I’m sure he’d appreciate having another person out there to call a friend, but not at the cost at hand. You don’t have to make a scene of anything, but you don’t have to reach out to this guy, either. I think it’s time for a friends list cleanup, homie.
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