Jennifer Bristol recently lost one of her oldest friends—thanks to a Facebook fight about pit bulls.Continue reading.
The trouble started when she posted a newspaper article asserting that pit bulls were the most dangerous type of dog in New York City last year. "Please share thoughts… 833 incidents with pitties," wrote Ms. Bristol, a 40-year-old publicist and animal-welfare advocate in Manhattan.
Her friends, many of whom also work in the animal-welfare world, quickly weighed in. One noted that "pit bull" isn't a single official breed; another said "irresponsible ownership" is often involved when dogs turn violent. Black Labs may actually bite more, someone else offered.
Then a childhood pal of Ms. Bristol piped up with this: "Take it from an ER doctor… In 15 years of doing this I have yet to see a golden retriever bite that had to go to the operating room or killed its target."
That unleashed a torrent. One person demanded to see the doctor's "scientific research." Another accused him of not bothering to confirm whether his patients were actually bitten by pit bulls. Someone else suggested he should "venture out of the ER" to see what was really going on.
"It was ridiculous," says Ms. Bristol, who stayed out of the fight. Her old buddy, the ER doctor, unfriended her the next morning. That was eight months ago. She hasn't heard from him since.
My theory is that online you're always right. People don't care about others' opinions. They seek out people who agree with them. So even if you're a friend in the "real world," online you become an enemy if you're on the wrong side of an issue.