Are there political opinions you would end a friendship over? Most of us probably have friends who don’t vote for the same party we do. It’s certainly possible to have different opinions on political issues and stay friends. But what if there are really fundamental differences of opinion? Are there some topics where you would draw a line? Are some differences of opinion irreconcilable?

Is there a risk we all get stuck in our own filter bubbles? When you end friendships with people who think differently, you are no longer confronted with different opinions. This can make it more difficult to question your own opinions and make you even more convinced you are right, possibly even pushing you to take more extreme positions. This phenomenon is known as the “echo chamber” problem, and it is particularly obvious online on social media.

What do our readers think? We had a comment from the aptly-named Love, who argues: “Different opinions are not the problem. Problems only arise when discussions escalate and become personal. “

To get a response, we put Love’s comment to two politicians from different parties. First, we spoke to Terry Reitke, an MEP from the European Greens and a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. How would she answer Love?

I can be friends with people who represent different political opinions, and I find it really valuable to do so because politicians should try and see things from different perspectives. Personally, it highlights for me that not everything is simple. But I would say that there are people who represent extremist racist, homophobic positions, and I think there you have to draw lines. Of course, you can have different gray areas with friends, but basically if people are really very determined and convinced, for example taking racist positions, then this line has been crossed for me.

Next up, we put Love’s comment to Philipp Amthor, a member of the German Bundestag for the Christian Democrats and a member of the committees on Internal Affairs and on European Union Affairs. Can he be friends with someone who holds very different political opinions?

Yes, I can also be friends with someone who holds different political opinions. That applies both to me as a politician and to me as a private person. Politically, the first thing you do in parliament is to fight for your convictions within your parliamentary group. But there are also good, collegial relationships with colleagues from other parties. Especially when I think of the Liberals, they are very close to us. But even with some of the Green Party members, there is definitely reasonable interaction, reasonable overlaps.

It’s the same in my private life. As you can imagine, as a politician, I am quite happy when I don’t also have to talk about politics in my private life all day long. In any case, I do not ask about the party affiliation of my friends or with whomever I have a conversation. I do apply one limitation in that other convictions I accept must be based on the foundations of our constitution. Politically as well as personally, I struggle with those who accept extremists – from the left or right spectrum – in their ranks.

We also had a comment sent in from James, who thinks social media is partly to blame for increasing polarisation. He argues that “media (and social media) constantly hype unusual news stories, making it seem like threats and dangers are all around us (a dynamic which populists play into). Plus, the ‘echo chambers’ built by social media algorithms again intensify everything.

How does Terry Reintke see it?

Yes, James, I agree… I believe that it is incredibly important that we also have direct exchanges outside of our close circles to encounter different perspectives on things. Social media brings many benefits, but at the same time there is still an urgent need for exchanges beyond that, so we have to create spaces, especially for politics, so that people have these opportunities.

What does Philipp Amthor think? What role (if any) does he believe social media plays in the polarisation of society?

We have to keep in mind that social networks are first and foremost – and for the vast majority of people –for entertainment, private exchange and private use. But, they are also increasingly used for information, and we have to keep that in mind. Especially in political debates, social networks overcome the metaphorical gatekeeper function of traditional media. That means there is a direct communication of opinion leaders and the population without a classifying voice from the media. Some may see that as participative progress. Perhaps it is, but it also bears risks.

The classifying gatekeeper function of classical media is not a tool to suppress information but rather to contextualize it. Therefore, it is up to all of us to oppose and fact-check falsities in political debates. This applies to the classical world as well as to social media. For decades, during debates in Germany and Europe, if some argument went over the top or out of bounds, some classifying voice was usually physically present at the proverbial “Stammtisch” to oppose and highlight the falsity of that statement. We need those voices also in our social media.

Can you stay friends with someone with opposing political views? Are there political opinions you would end a friendship over? Are we running the risk of getting stuck in our own filter bubbles? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

24 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    From my personal experience, those who consider themselves as “open-minded people” are just the most narrow-minded and intolerant people I have ever met…They have “politically correct” points of view, but don’t try to debate with them about certain topics, because they will call you “(whatever)phobic” and they will end the conversation with their absolute truth… Nowadays, being open-minded seems to mean “having progressive opinions and ideas”, when it really means “being able to discuss, listen and debate with those who aren’t from your same opinion”.

    • avatar

      Nacho Ibh I agree .

    • avatar

      Nacho Ibh just look how the comment below yours ended…

    • avatar

      Juvenal Pedri Filho Well, they do part of the job with they self-explanatory comments… We just have to wait and then refer to their comments.

  2. avatar

    Before you answer, Veganism, feminism and flat earth are not considered political views….

  3. avatar

    Depends on opposite they are. For sure one does evaluate people from their values, if a person’s core values leades them to being part of a extreme political party that is against basic human rights, can a person just ignore it? Only if you are as shitty of a person.

  4. avatar

    use of jealous-girlfriend-meme girl

  5. avatar
    Jakub Lopusinski

    Highly unlikely, also why does it matter that your views are challenged? Simply being able to criticize certain aspects of a view without looking at a holistic sense of truth is time-wasting, why would your views matter if they are simply your views. What people think does not matter, what matters is the actual state of things and the way things are and should be. Just because people disagree more and more doesn’t mean people are benefiting from it. People who focus on one aspect of truth (for example injustice) and take that as their problem of existence will obviously disagree with those who focus and magnify another aspect of truth (for example violence) because these people perceive something else to be their problem of existence. While both could be right and misguided at the same time because they focus and magnify only one element. What needs to happen is people need to realize there IS an ultimate truth that encompasses all problems, and when they find it they will all agree again and be able to be friends and in peace. The problem of the human capacity for evil which is a result of human nature and free will is something that all people in politics would agree on. But what about the individual? If he will simply die one day why would it matter that he does not maximize his pleasure even at the cost of others? Think about it for a while

  6. avatar

    Why would I stay friends with someone who does not have values to share? Especially the liberal mainstream brainwashed people. No reasoning, facts, common sense work with them… My true friends are all conservatives, who believe in normacy, nation, science (the kind where there are 2 genders).. I do not want to waste time with those who support kids changing their genders at 5, or the ones who create open borders at the cost of me….

  7. avatar

    No. It would not be honest friendship. As the saying goes, you cant choose your family but you can choose your friends.

  8. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    Since we commenting on an ideological think tank company called “Friends of Europe” with a USE as its outcome, doesn’t mean we all need to be (personal) friends or foes with everyone. Be they pro or con, employees, researchers, or its COE.

    Tolerance, respect & distance will do- since every now & then one is (still) able to express one’s ‘distant choice’ through the ballot box. Direct democracy is the ideal.

    Q: Why do we need so many think tanks? Have ordinary voters and ordinary elected representatives forgotten how to think politically & make sensible choices? Has politics become a glorified trade like carpentry or plumbing?

    Nowadays, the world is wide open with loads of varying information- should one’s mind be flexible & receptive.

    Or- has the political competition to influence & exert power over us citizens become worth the huge sums invested by ALL these ‘grateful donors’ (even some taxpayers’ money) who undeniably created many jobs- even a new industry?

    Naturally, any personal friendship is deeper & more meaningful when the underlying values become a match (‘made in heaven’)! Lesser so between voters & all fallible politicians and agents subscribed to varying political concepts.

    Could an EU liberal globalist & integrationist like von der Leyen be friends with Karl Marx or Stalin? Or could Karl Marx be a close friend of Scottish Adam Smith?

    Could our think tank think about the importance of a.m. to pave the way for a USE?

  9. avatar

    Most of my socialist friends cannot stand any rightist opinion and resume friendship with me. These so called open minded leftist are in fact the most intolerant people

  10. avatar

    Just to clean up the mess of those claiming that open minded people are in fact not open minded, I’d say this: right wing people are very often intolerant, left wing people are very often intolerant to intolerance.

  11. avatar

    Divide and Rule. Many of us spend our lives like scattered sheep, physically (moving from one place to another) and mentally.

  12. avatar

    What people want is just a good life not to defend political view. We must not mix up the means to the end. Politics and political ideologies, something claimed to bring good life to people. But the most important thing is the destination of state and political parties and politicians, it is the end politics should be leading to i.e. is good life for the people.

  13. avatar

    If the US can switch diplomatic recognition from the “democratic” Republic of China to the “communist” People’s Republic of China at the height of the Cold War in 1979, which means political views/ideologies are nothing in the face of economic and social well beings of the people and survival of the country, political views are not important. Political views are just to oppose, particularly in democracy, when party competition is the rule of the game to win political power/ruling power, which is, party cannot agree to the opposition, thus oppose for oppose. This is irrational and frequently ignoring well beings of the people government should be serving.

  14. avatar
    catherine benning

    Can you stay friends with someone with opposing political views?

    Once upon a time I would have thought this a very ridiculous thread opening. Not any more. Intolerance, along with rudeness and acceptance of this as diversity is spreading to such an extent it is frightening. And the fact this has been listed as an issue on DE proves I am not alone in my observation.

    This week has been a hard lesson in politics and how the downfall of civilisation is accepted as a mandatory concept. London is filthy, out NHS staff are impoverished and quitting their jobs, only for bigger incompetents to take over where they left a hole. Ones you cannot call on their treatment or behaviour for fear of incarceration, disguised as criminality. It is no better in the private sector. Except, that it is cleaner and you do have access to more advanced medics, but generally, the old polite uplifting mannerisms are disappearing fast.. The streets are filthy, stupid traffic controls put in place by more incompetence, has created utter chaos on our busy, homeless infested, streets. The piles of rubbish strewn across the city has exploded with filthy unkempt people colluding to keep it functionless, as to control it may mean looking at their part in creating the mess originally. So, their main aim is to keep all dwellers mouths tightly shut. Don’t dare complain or we will ‘keel’ you. And then the horror of all horrors, at last younger family members, the ones with politically ‘woke’ ideas, confess they too see the end of civilisation as we know it. And, they too are very afraid of what they never thought would take over their lives. Then the comparisons with Rome arise with their tight lipped faces tensed by utter despair. What can we do now, spills out? Yet our idiot news stations continue to pretend we must sacrifice ourselves for hoards of nincompoops sneering at our ‘elitist’ expectations. They have no comprehension of what social tolerance, along with the a demand to follow the rules, means. The pig sty around them is home. A home politicians went out of their way to create. And did it against the indigenous wishes.

    No, you cannot stay friends with those who wish you destruction. Especially when that destruction encompasses themselves and their families. Look at the mass suicides we watch daily with millions no longer willing to stay alive by taking simple methods of natural hygiene into their daily routine. They crowd together in parks and streets, seemingly oblivious of their subconscious minds no longer concerned whether they live or die. That is a political minefield no politician is willing to acknowledge let alone discuss openly. The message being, we can do nothing so pretend you don’t see it. Otherwise, we will ‘keel’ you, should you force us to face the mess we created.

  15. avatar

    Of course you can, this shouldn’t even be a question! I find it ridiculous when the same people stating that diversity is a strength are often the ones who refuse to tolerate even remotely different ideas. If its an extremist ideology which consumes the person then I wholly understand breaking of the friendship but its not only ridiculous but tragic in fact that some would end a relationship just because the other voted for the wrong candidate or disagrees on an issue. Our different intricacies and ideas give us all new perspectives and learning experiences and we should embrace that, not try to avoid it at all cost.

  16. avatar

    Debate the dialectic not the person

  17. avatar

    Again, “This site can’t be reached”. Please consider changing the TLD out of Nigeria.

  18. avatar

    One end of the spectrum tends to take things very personally, and does not appreciate humour, so sadly, the answer is no. Then again, life is to short to care 🙂

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