Our 20th most-read article of 2021.

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Originally published October 4, 2021.

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Hello, I’m someone you used to know. Pretty well, in fact. We had some good conversations. We saw eye to eye on all the important things. We laughed. We had a solid connection. Or so you thought.

Our paths went different ways, and we fell out of touch. That happens. No biggie.

And now, here I am, on your social media feed, however many years later. And guess what? I’m an asshole!

Yep, somewhere along the way, I took a wild lurch into the weeds of fringe beliefs. I selectively reject science, and then liken the pushback I get for this to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. I actually say this, in writing, on a widely read forum, without a trace of shame or irony. Not only that, sometimes I propagate and defend hate speech, and dismiss any criticism I get from this as censorship—even though I’m on a privately owned platform. I know it’s inconsistent. Never fear. I’m fluent in all of the rhetorical dodges and logical fallacies.

You’re free to argue with me. Go ahead, if your shock has worn off. Or you can morbidly witness other people trying to. Scroll through my posts; you’ll find plenty of examples. It doesn’t matter if people attack me with a battle-ax or patiently present me with facts and citations. I’m not budging. Ever. And I’ve accumulated friends who bolster everything I say.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself: What the fucking fuck? Was I always like this, and somehow it never came up? Did something happen in the intervening years that made me swerve into delusion and assholery? Could what happened to me happen to you? You’re not going to get any satisfaction with that line of inquiry. Even if you asked me directly, I couldn’t tell you.

So now you’ve got a choice to make: You can unfriend me, or you can keep me in your feed. I know you’re curious about my deterioration. Will I progress from occasional posts of question-asking batshittery into an active crusader of evil, like the Darth Vader version of the person you once knew? Or maybe I’ll see the light and have a complete turnaround. That happens in the movies all the time, right?

Real slim chance of that, let me warn you right now.

If you unfriend me, I won’t notice. Until I do. Then I’ll have to consider why that happened, and, given the positive regard I’ve held you in all these years, I’ll see the error of my ways. Just kidding! No way that’s going to happen. I’m plenty adept at dismissing disgust and criticism. It’s pretty much a daily activity for me by this point.

And if we stay friends, you’re tacitly endorsing my views. Oh yeah. People will get friend requests from me, see that you’re a mutual friend, and figure that means I’m okay. And once they find out what an ignorant knob I am, they’ll think you’re on board with my nonsense. And who could blame them?

So it’s lose-lose, really. Hell of position I’ve put you in, huh? No matter what you choose, you can trust that I’ll show up in your thoughts every now and then, dampening your faith in your judgment and the human race as a whole.