How To Break Up With a Friend

Covid Edition

3 minute read

Adam Shepard
Co-founder and COO, Practice Empathy™

A  friend of ours posted on Facebook, and now we're no longer friends.

These were our closest friends out here in California, the go-to couple for a night out to dinner or to do an escape room or to put steaks on the grill on a Sunday afternoon. A sad situation, indeed. 

People say that posting on Facebook fosters acrimony and can ruin friendships, but that ain’t it. Faulty core values ruin friendships. And sometimes you have to take a stand and just say, “This isn’t right.” 

Here’s what we wrote to them… 
Well guys, as much as it hurts us, I'm afraid we're going to have to part ways as friends. We are grateful for--and we will always remember--the fun times we've had with you. Dinners. Breweries. Hockey games. Escape rooms. Tacos by the pool. Super Bowl parties! 

You guys have the best Super Bowl parties.

But, despite how much we've grown to really enjoy spending time with you over the years, this cannot go on. Sometimes great people just can't be great together, and it is what it is.

Ultimately, to sum, it is completely and entirely unacceptable the position you have taken on Covid. The statistics are clear on the death totals, and the CDC has provided fair and thorough science-backed guidance for us to follow in order to prevent the spread of this virus. The evidence that that guidance is working is readily available for public consumption. 

And yet you post to Facebook that you are going to do the opposite of the CDC's recommendations, that you are going to have a party, and you are going to kiss, hug, not socially distance, and not wear masks.
When we asked you about this post, you said, "I don't care about the statistics. I am not paying attention to the math."

That is 50% arrogant, 50% ignorant, and 0% empathetic, and, frankly, we cannot be associated with anyone who takes this stance.

The counterargument ("Well, we respect your opinion; we'll agree to disagree") has no bearing here. We have friends who own handguns despite the fact that we believe they should be banned; we are agnostic, and yet we have loads of Christian and Muslim friends; et cetera.

But this is not that. Your position is oppressive, and your opinion shows a lack of compassion. Your position violates human rights. To flout the CDC's recommendations is to be callous, careless, dangerous, and inconsiderate of each family who has lost a loved one to this virus. You are showing a complete disregard for your fellow men and women. Your opinion is not at all rooted in any kind of fact. 
This is not political. Some people are making it that way, but it isn't political. Your actions, and the actions of so many other household gatherings around the country, are literally killing people. Contact tracing has shown that small gatherings are the primary spreader of this virus. This is indisputable and cannot be debated. Go read about it.

It has been sad for us to watch those few people who have been pushed to the periphery. Reality, though, fortunately, is simpler and where we've seen most people reside: this virus is real; it sucks; at some point this will pass; meantime, we're all in this together, and we make the sacrifices to do what's necessary to reduce the spread.

Is it excessive to have to put on your mask between bites at a restaurant? Of course. But do we believe we're victims of some cruel and tyrannical government that is stripping our freedoms? That's a silly consideration. Guidelines are being handed down so that we can all do the right thing and save as many lives as possible. Ivana and I want to go to the park and play soccer with a gaggle of friends; we want to go to a bar and do a round of shots; we want to hold hands in the backyard and sing Happy Birthday.

We are just as antsy and agitated as everyone else.

But right now, we have to endure a little bit of discomfort in order to (almost literally) save our country. A better question, then, is: "Since when did so many people become a bunch of selfish weanies?"

It is important for us to take this stand. It is important for us to let the people around us know that their behavior is disturbing. This is where change comes from. 

We think you guys can walk away from this friendship in one of three ways:

  1. Not likely: "Gosh, they're right. Maybe I really should do some more reading on this."
  2. Not likely: "Well, okay. Fuck 'em. They can go sit in a hole with their masks on."
  3. More likely: "Well, sometimes friendships run their course."
Based on your bombastic claims and the conversations we've had with you, we doubt number 1 is going to happen. Of course we know that you are not the bitter and caustic and vengeful type, so we're pretty sure that number 2 is off the table. 
What we're really hoping is that you'll think about this breakup over the coming years, begin to truly consider both sides of an argument, read (!!!!!!!!), and offer just a little more care and concern to the world.

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