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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

being friends with people you disagree with

My sincere desire for this post is that it doesn't come across as a conservative being hypocritical about sensitivity and embracing a "snowflake" mentality. The very fact that I had to say what I just said annoys me, but it has to be said in this day and age.

I am a conservative. Four words into this article and you probably already have an idea of what I look like and what values I hold. It may come as a surprise to you that I like Odd Future and have my ears pierced. It may not. That's not what this post is about though.

They say that as we get older our brains become hardened - our opinions become more solidified, we become less open-minded and it's no surprise that it becomes harder to associate with those that think differently from us. It's not just limited to thought, but covers class, looks and other aspects of individuality and identity that we weren't hyper aware of during elementary school. I know plenty of Asian people, mostly girls, that were "in the cool group with the white kids in high school" that only hang out with Asian girls post college. No one seems to directly address this phenomena - perhaps out of a distorted feel of shame or because no one cares. I'm not certain that the past decade or so's heightened focus on identity has amplified this issue (and maybe it's not an issue at all), but the cause doesn't matter for what I'm looking to discuss. Reality is, differing world views and opinions on life matters with your social network is hard to overcome whether we like it or not.

Being a 23 year old in the tech industry, even after attending one of the most "conservative" colleges in the nation, I'm often a minority in terms of world view in most of my social circles (outside of my church friends back home, who would probably cringe at this article speaking on identity). As someone who enjoys engaging in argumentative conversations and never reserved in expressing my opinion, this has never been a problem nor have I ever fallen into any form of "victim mentality" associated with being a conservative in 2021. Most, if not all of my friends, are very aware of the views I have on life, often at direct opposition with their own views. I'm very proud of this - the fact that I'm able to have friends that I actively disagree with and that I have friends who invest in me while acknowledging our disagreements. By definition, they are open-minded and in the simplest terms, smart.

However, there's an innate fear of how long this will last - enjoying political discourse and thriving in hearing from the other side are traits of college students and those in the early 20's (traits of respectable people in these demographics, anyway). Even if that's an innate quality my friends have that will last their lifetime, I question whether or not the mere knowledge that I have strong opinions that defy their own world views will start to grow on them as their brains and opinions become hardened as we grow old. To put a pause in talking in the abstract (and this is a religious topic, not a political one, but I think it does the best job in conveying my concern) - does the fact (for my non-Christian friends) I believe they will end up in eternal damnation bother them? Furthermore, does the blatant reality that I'm not actively evangelizing knowing this fact make them question my sincerity of friendship (or faith)? There's a dozen more examples that I won't go into detail in this post, but if you're somewhat aware of worldly matters, I'm sure you can think of a couple things that would cause you to question a friendship based on their values and beliefs, regardless of the friendship you've built with them.

I would like to openly admit that these are largely unwarranted concerns - I've never lost a friend due to my beliefs nor have been confronted in a hostile manner regarding what I believe in and what it means for the social bond that we have. I'm also aware that not everyone (perhaps most people) are this cognisant about such matters in general - they just hang out with who's available and those with common interests. I could be overthinking about these things because one common interest or "hobby" I have with the people I'm closest to is our inherent love for engaging and oftentimes polarizing conversations. My fear is that this would eventually break off from the wear and tear of our values butting heads.

We should never force ourselves to maintain a friendship with someone solely due to familiarity - the same should apply to my friends. If knowing that I view the world a certain way warrants a termination of the friendship, ripping the bandaid off now is a far more efficient solution than making both individuals as well as the bond itself suffer. If you think pineapple doesn't belong in pizza, this applies to you.

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