Have you ever thought about how well you know your friends?

According to my Facebook page I have 697 “friends” ranging from family to people who are friends of friends and asked to become one with me. I almost always say yes.

As strange as this may sound, I’m betting I know the majority of those 697 better than the people I spend time with on weekends or others I knew long before the social media site was founded more than 13 years ago by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard roommates.

That is not necessarily a good thing.

For example, when I’m out with friends and a subject like politics comes up we immediately know whether or not we agree or disagree. When it’s the latter, we’ll quickly change the subject to something that won’t endanger our relationship.

Should Kevin Dumas or Paul Heroux be mayor of Attleboro for the next two years? Is North Attleboro’s RTM form of government harmful to the town? Does Charlie Baker deserve another term on Beacon Hill? Would you force Donald Trump to release his tax returns?

Those four topics have come up at least once over the past few months while with friends or on Facebook. Unlike real friendships, however, it’s almost impossible to move on to subjects while on social media.

That point became perfectly clear last Sunday night when I was checking my phone one last time before retiring for the night.

I was still pumped about the Patriots come-from-behind win that afternoon over Houston and hoped to read how others felt about the game.

What I read had nothing to do with the game. The majority of the posts about the game were about the actions by a third of the Patriots players who took a knee in protest during the national anthem.

Are you disappointed in the Patriots? Who cares was my response.

Should players be forced to stand during the anthem? They would in North Korea, I answered.

Will you boycott the NFL? No, I’m more concerned that the people we elect vote themselves better healthcare than we will ever dream of getting for ourselves was my answer.

When I first joined Facebook I did so to follow what is happening in the lives of my friends. I suspect many became my friend to do the same.

I did not join to debate you on whether Barack Obama failed in his mission – as you claim – to ruin this country and I certainly did not join to debate you about whether Americans should be forced to stand during the playing of the anthem. That is why newspapers have opinion pages.

When I read a post from a woman who claimed NFL players are nothing more than entertainers and then compared them to monkeys who should just dance, I knew I had to take action.

It took me a while, but I figured out how to no longer follow the “friends” who post political propaganda, whether the postings are something I agree with or not.

I mentioned opinions earlier, mine is that the president and I have something in common.

When our dog Tiger has a hold of one of my socks, Pattie or Bridget will shake the bottle holding his treats. He races to the kitchen and then drops the sock to eat the treat as I scoop the sock off the floor while he’s distracted.

Donald Trump does the same with his base.

The NFL showed Colin Kaepernick there was a price to pay for sitting and then taking a knee last season and owners have blackballed him as a result. Similar protests have continued, but they have largely been ignored.

That was until the president visited the reddest of states and shook the subject in front of his followers the same way we shake Tiger’s treats.

Just like our dog, his base was distracted from yet another failure to improve healthcare, the constant goading of Kim Jung-un into taking actions I pray we don’t regret, and the ongoing investigation into illegal and treasonous activities during the campaign.

There’s enough about those stories in the newspaper and on TV, I certainly don’t need to read about them from my “friends.”

Peter Gay is the Executive Director of North Attleboro Community Television Inc. – North TV. The views expressed in his column are not necessarily those of North TV. He may be contacted at pgay@northtv.net

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