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I Lost All My Friends In The Culture War

By Robyn Riley·· 12 min read
I Lost All My Friends In The Culture War

A great political sifting is occurring, which is separating like with like, separating mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, friendships decades-long — all on the basis of politics. Not since the last Civil War have citizens been so at each other’s throats over ideological disagreements, and there’s no end in sight.

I grew up in a fairly conservative and Christian household. Like many young people, when it was time for me to leave home I was excited to explore the world myself and discover the things my parents had sheltered me from. I went off to university bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, confident in my own reasoning and ability to uncover truth.

The Liberal Culture of University

I majored in Film Studies and minored in Mass Communication, so why was I always encountering terms like feminism and white privilege? I was here to learn about media and art, not Critical Theory. My mistake was assuming that in a liberal arts education you could ever escape the total permeation of cultural Marxism. I inadvertently found myself being steeped in radical liberal ideology and passively taking it to be truth, with no critical thought on my part or analysis of counter-arguments.

I was attending a trusted institution, after all, I could trust my professors, right? I ate up the heavily biased curriculum for four years, and whatever liberal tendencies I naturally had as a young and compassionate woman were magnified tenfold. In my entire time at university, I never met a single conservative person or heard a conservative perspective on anything.

In my entire time at university, I never met a single conservative person.

Likewise, all my friends were liberal just like me, maybe even a little less radical than I was! I’ve never been the kind of person to sit in the center on anything, I have always had firm beliefs and a strong intuition, though my beliefs have changed as I have grown. All seemed right in the world, I had my education, and I had figured out how to make the world a better place, armed with my theoretical solutions. Now it was finally time for me to put it all into practice. 

Taking My Liberal Ideas Home

The first few times I returned to my tiny, isolated hometown in Newfoundland, my initial disputes were with my more right-leaning family. “Your Communist professors have brainwashed you!”, my grandfather said with a smile. I argued with them endlessly, believing that I knew better than my wise elders. I felt that they were so backward and archaic and that they were even bigoted for refusing to accept my positions against capitalism, patriarchy, and racism. 

I felt alienated from them, and in my arrogance believed that I knew better than my whole family. Luckily, they never turned away from me, though. They supported me, entertained my incessant debating, and patiently waited in hope that I would come to my senses eventually. This is not the case for lots of families, unfortunately. Too often we see children recording their parents for TikTok clout while yelling at them and calling them stupid and racist. 

Family ties are stronger than ideological differences.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from this experience, it’s that with love and patience we ensure the longevity of our family ties. If you have a person in your life who has been swept up in the ideological frenzy of the past four years, don’t excommunicate them, don’t fight dirty, and don’t attack them personally. 

There’s every chance that they will eventually change their mind on certain contentious issues, and even if they don’t, the heavily politicized nature of the current era will subside in time, as all things do. When the debating and tension pass, if an economic crisis or some unforeseen calamity occurs, you will want your family next to you regardless of your ideological disagreements.

Family is everything, and regardless of ideological differences, deep down you will want to be in good standing with them.

Family is everything, and regardless of ideological differences, deep down you will want to be in good standing with them. This means the best option you have is to simply accept that they think differently than you and let it go. Understand that while this could be a permanent aspect of who they are, there’s always the possibility that issues will become less important with time. By not letting things get personal you can resume the relationship without too much resentment or hurt between you. This is not so easily done with friends, unfortunately. 

I Grew Increasingly Alienated From Those Around Me

I spent the better part of my 20s living in a kind of apathy towards politics, not an activist but believing that the liberal paradigm was correct. I had always had unpleasant interactions with feminists, except for two women, my entire life. The mere fact that I enjoyed being and dressing feminine was enough to ensure that most feminists I met would never take me seriously and would make sure I knew they felt that way.  

These negative experiences with bossy, rude, masculine feminists were the first cracks in the façade, and I began to dislike the idea of calling myself a feminist at all. How could I seriously label myself the same way these women did? I was nothing like them, I couldn’t relate to them, I didn’t care about the same things they cared about, and they, more than any man ever had, made me feel ashamed of the woman that I naturally was. 

Feminists, more than any man ever had, made me feel ashamed of the woman that I naturally was. 

Once 2016 rolled around and the Trump presidency was upon us, I found myself feeling more and more alienated from the people around me. Because there was no one to talk to, I began learning more about arguments against the leftist mindset from a couple of YouTube creators who opened my mind to the possibility of honoring those uneasy feelings I had around feminists and radical liberals. They articulated what I couldn’t and taught me that there were alternatives to this way of seeing the world.

Learning To Speak the Truth Changed My Life

That’s when I found Jordan Peterson. Three particular things he said hit me like a brick wall and changed my life forever. The first was “Your life can’t have meaning without responsibility,” the second was “If you don’t say what you think, you kill your unborn self,” and the third, “Speak the truth, or at least don’t lie.” Following these three simple principles were like seeds that took root in me and were the beginning of me finally turning away from destructive left-wing ideology for good.

For the first time in years, my mind and heart were on fire! I realized why I had been living this directionless life, under-eating, smoking, and partying, feeling totally numb inside. The more I spoke the truth, like Dr. Peterson had prescribed, the less I could justify the life I was living, which was full of unhappiness and confusion. 

The more I spoke the truth the less I could justify the unhappy life I was living.

Once I started my YouTube channel and began to speak about my new beliefs publicly, a new identity emerged in me. An identity with self-awareness, courage, and a future orientation. I became mature, stopped making excuses for my degenerate behavior, and became unafraid of responsibility. 

My Friends Were Not Happy with My New Perspective on Life

Being the hot-headed person I am, I maybe lacked tact at times while learning how to use Twitter and YouTube. Also, my sense of humor certainly isn’t for everyone, but when my old university friends found my social media accounts and heard for the first time the things I was saying and supporting, they no longer in good conscience could have anything to do with me. Some tried to reason with me and labored extensively to save the relationship, while others ghosted me or wrote letters of disavowal. 

News of my online content spread fast between friends of friends until pretty much everyone from my old days at university knew me and saw me only through the distorted lens of social media. They didn’t see me, the person with a story and a whole life of experiences that logically led me to this point. They saw me as a confused conspiracy theorist who had been radicalized by online propaganda. To me, anyone who could support things like open borders and feminism is the real radical. We were at odds with one another for the first time in 10 years. 

Having to justify myself over and over felt like being metaphysically mugged.

This debating went on with my closest friends for months and months. I didn’t want to lose them. Even though I didn’t agree with them on much anymore, I still cared for them deeply and wanted to keep them in my life. It came to the point where every day I would wake up with anxiety, full of self-doubt and sorrow. 

Having to justify myself over and over felt like being metaphysically mugged. All the creativity and life-giving energy that came from giving myself total freedom to speak my mind was drained out of me. I felt myself wanting to say things just to keep them, and I had to stop myself, I just couldn’t do it.

We are social creatures and the immense pain that results from being disavowed by people who you have loved is a pain that’s hard to fully describe. The alienation, humiliation, and hurt I felt from that experience still haunts me.

Choosing between My Friends and Me

This wonderful new direction I had taken away from feminism and liberalism, which had made me healthy and strong again, was to others something very negative and dark. I had to choose. It was this new life, me being who I authentically am with pride, or them. I chose me. If you’re also going through a struggle like this, let me offer some advice on how to navigate it.

When people attack you for your political beliefs or refuse to accept that you have these beliefs out of conviction and ethics, do not kneel to keep these people in your life. Though it can be incredibly painful to feel misunderstood by the people who you love most in the world, that break in connection sometimes needs to happen. Saying what you need to say to keep them in your life isn’t the solution. You have to be true to yourself, come what may.

The truth destroys only what’s false in your life and that’s a mercy, though it’s painful.

Before the truth can set you free, it has to destroy you. This is the main thing I learned from this experience. The more I spoke the truth, the better my life got — and the more I had no choice but to let go of everything about my old life, including many people who used to be a part of it. The truth destroys only what’s false in your life and that’s a mercy, though it’s painful. As the truth strips away the dead weight of the things you have accumulated, living an unconscious life, you will find you have more space to build better things in their place. 

The Truth Is Not Palatable to Everyone

I felt, for the first time in my life, that I had a grasp on truth, and of course, I naturally wanted to share that with others. I wanted to spread the word and tell others about what I had discovered. The only problem with speaking the truth is that you will almost always be attacked by someone for it. Whether that’s a family member, friend, or perfect stranger, it doesn’t matter, in the end, it’s going to happen. 

You should expect to be misunderstood and even hated for pulling the veil from people’s eyes because it makes them uncomfortable. The sad reality is most people would rather not look too deeply into the truth of their beliefs, as long as what they believe makes them feel good. 

Most people would rather not look too deeply into the truth of their beliefs as long as they feel good.

It was shocking to me at first how many people felt angered by me pointing out things like how feminism makes women miserable, how causal sex is damaging to both men and women, or my personal favorite, how I don’t think anyone should apologize for or be ashamed of being white. Now nothing surprises me. 

Unpopular truths will make you unpopular in some social circles, but rest assured that by being open about what it is you do believe and staying committed to truth, you will attract a whole new community of people in time. I now have an entire network of family-oriented friends who think like me and understand where I’m coming from. 

Closing Thoughts

The process of growth and changing your beliefs is painful, there’s no doubt about that, but by doing so you gain self-respect and you gain new connections. Most of all, you transform into a better version of yourself, and with the truth as your focus, you can expect the world to reorient itself around you in a positive way. Jordan Peterson once said, “Speak the truth and see what happens.” What happened to me was that I lost all my friends in the culture war, but I gained myself.

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