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I remember how angry I was at several buddies for posting questionable content on social media, but lately, I started wondering if it’s time to let go of that.
Last week, I went to my hometown and accidentally ran into a friend who particularly upset me with his opinions during the pandemic.
My heart started racing when I saw him from a distance. How would he react? How would I react?
But then he smiled at me, I smiled back, and we had a really nice small talk.
That was surprising to me (and probably to him), but it felt so right. I am not going into details because I don’t want him to identify himself in case he reads this—I ran into quite a few people last weekend, so it could have been anyone.
That afternoon I realized how stressful the last 18 months had been for all of us. It felt so good to roam around town on my skateboard, seeing people enjoying themselves, and feeling the upcoming summer vibe. Why would I destroy that because someone posted something I didn’t like months ago?
Something tells me that a few folks already regret posting all that stuff on social media. Especially those who fantasized about an upcoming worldwide dictatorship or celebrities drinking baby blood might not be too proud of their online performance. But nobody can expect these folks to have the courage to admit that right now.
Who knows what they went through during the lockdown? Maybe they were facing childhood traumas for the first time in their adult life? Maybe their relationship fell apart? Maybe they lost their job? Maybe they struggled with addiction?
I believe that everyone deserves a second chance, but where do we draw the line?
After meeting my friend, I decided to give everyone the chance to not talk about the lockdown and everything that came along with it until they bring it up. If there is one thing that I learned in relationships, it is to not discuss disagreements too early.
As long as someone lets go of their conspiracy theories, I am willing to reach out to them—you don’t need to say anything, bro. Let’s just pretend it never happened—but one day, we will have to talk about this. Not now, but one day.
Until then, we have a lot of work to do. We need to process an unseen crisis that took its toll on our mental health. I was struggling. You were struggling. We were struggling. Let’s try to give everyone their time to digest what just happened to all of us.
For now, I would like to enjoy a good time with my friends. I want to reconnect with them and not deepen our disagreements—and I hope they feel the same way.
In the upcoming years, we will learn a lot about how these conspiracy theories convinced so many folks to believe in them. What were the narratives that triggered certain people to throw common sense overboard?
But I am not a therapist, and it is not my job to fix that. I am just a friend who was worried about loved ones losing their grip on reality. This is not the time to push them away; it’s time to reach out to them.
Just to be clear: I am not talking about those who still believe in all that QAnon bullsh*t or think that Bill Gates was responsible for the pandemic; I am talking about those who might have lost their mind for a short period of time.
Admitting a mistake is one of the hardest things to do. These people obviously just had a hard time. Let’s not make it more challenging than it already is.
And maybe, one day, we can all share the guilty pleasures that we discovered during the lockdown. Who started talking with themselves? Who didn’t shower for days? Who binge-watched the silliest shows available on Netflix? And who fell for that absurd “Plandemic” movie?
Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, but let’s not ruin the first encounters with friends by calling each other out on our mistakes. Nobody was prepared for this pandemic, and many of us made terrible mistakes—but it’s time to move on.
As I am writing this, I remember the answer of my English teacher in high school when someone asked him about the punishment for not doing our homework. This was his answer:
“Once is not once, but twice is two times too much.”
We all make mistakes, but some of us learn our lessons—let’s give everyone that chance.