Make a pledge to get a coffee, apple juice, or something stronger with an old acquaintance that you defriended on social media during the election campaign, a family member you just couldn't stand speaking to, or a neighbor that drove you crazy with the sign on their lawn. Then share your #FrenemiesDay stories via social media!
Many thanks to everyone that participated in and supported ‘Frenemies Day’, and in particular our drop-in at Virginia Tech yesterday!
We had a great turnout and some neat conversations. The election results were, unsurprisingly, on many participants’ minds. However, other topics were also discussed, ranging from genetically modified organisms to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy. People disagreed, but remained civil. More to come on the takeaways.
Of course, the hope is that we can become better frenemies every day. The resources on this site will be expanded and I anticipate that we will do more events like this in the future. We will also continue to do more structured workshops through the larger Frenemies Project.
Frenemies Day also received significant media attention, including:
Grateful that the News Office has been so helpful in promoting a Frenemies Day drop-in here at VT: http://vtnews.vt.edu/notices/frenemiesday.html
The details are:
Is there a friend or colleague you’ve had a hard time talking to this election season? Looking to detox and restore relationships when the voting is over? You are invited to bring a friend or acquaintance that you fundamentally disagree with on one or more issues, but want or need to get along with, to the here on campus.
Who: All VT affiliates (students, staff, faculty) 18 or over are welcome. Just bring a frenemy (also 18+) with you
What: Engage in a civil yet probing conversation around the issues that matter to you and your counterpart. Rough ground rules and guidelines around what constitutes ‘civil discourse’ will be provided
What2: Light snacks and refreshments will be provided When: Wednesday, November 9th from 10:30 am to 4 pm (drop in anytime!)
Where: Room G in the Graduate Life Center Why: Because it behooves us to get along with and better understand those we fundamentally disagree with An additional purpose of this event is to support a research study. Collected data may be used in academic publications. Researchers and the media may be present observing
Why: Because it behooves us to get along with and better understand those we fundamentally disagree with.
NOTE: An additional purpose of this event is to support a research study. Collected data may be used in academic publications. Researchers and the media may be present observing conversations, and photographing and video recording. Participants will also be invited to complete a (voluntary) survey for research purposes once they have completed their frenemies conversation. If you would like more information, please contact the principal investigator, Todd Schenk, Assistant Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs, at email@example.com. Should you have any questions or concerns about the study’s conduct or your rights as a research subject, or need to report a research-related injury or event, you may contact the VT IRB Chair, Dr. David M. Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the debate stage to the water cooler, the vitriol and animosity this election season seem to have reached new heights. Healthy and vigorous debate is important to democracy, our differences should be celebrated, and there are times when more adversarial avenues of dispute resolution (like the courts and ballot box) are most appropriate. However, there are many times when we can do better by getting along, despite our differing and strongly held opinions and beliefs. This is true in our personal and professional lives, and the public arena.
Seven interviews in one week on the Frenemies Project, and widespread media coverage on the cleavages widening in workplaces, on social media, and elsewhere, underscored for me that relationships are being frayed and people are not happy about it.
In response, this is a call for November 9th – the day after election day – to be National Frenemies Day. Think of it as an opportunity to detox and (re)discover each other’s humanity. A call to increase empathy and mutual understanding. This is not a call to avoid the issues that matter to us, but rather to respectfully discuss them with someone that we consider(ed) a friend, a family member, or a colleague that we like and/or have to work with, but that we know holds fundamentally opinions than we do.
#FrenemiesDay is an extension of the Frenemies Project at Virginia Tech. While in its early stages, the initiative has garnered substantial media attention – it seems to reflect the zeitgeist of the time. While entertaining, many of us are looking for ways to stop the mudslinging and increase the empathy, understanding, and decorum of our discourse.
The Frenemies Project features organized workshops that bring people with fundamentally different opinions on important policy questions together for facilitated discussions. Among other techniques, the workshops include ‘role-play simulation exercises’ or ‘serious games’. However, we do not need workshops to be good frenemies. Here is some advice on how to get started.
Here is some of the media coverage the project has received: