I have a few “friends” that I only see because of mutual connections. And a few of them are assholes (IMO), but I have just gotten used to them being that way, so they don’t bother me anymore. But if given the choice, I would rather not have to see them at all.
Maybe I have a lower tolerance for jerks and assholes than some, but I feel like I there are quite a few folks in my life I already have to just grin and bear, so when it comes to choosing friends, I really only hang out with people I genuinely like. (It is worth it to note that I do not have many friends, though!)
Overall, I think “stranger assholes” – online or off – get to us more because we don’t get to see their asshole behaviour in a larger context. We don’t see them as a mixed bag – someone who is a jerk or clueless or messed up in certain ways, but good in other ways. We are not exposed to the whole person, just the asshole part.
Like, if some jerk cuts me off in traffic, I will temporarily hate him or her with every fibre of my being. I have no context for them as a person – my only interaction with them was when they nearly caused an accident, where my car or my person might have been damaged. So yes, to me in that moment, they have zero redeeming qualities.
But I am sure if I could follow them home (which I have never done whenever I have been cut off, I feel bound to say haha), and saw them being tender with their kids or cute to their dog etc, I might have a better view of them. I would see them as human, basically, not just The Jerk Who Cut Me Off.
Now, of course I could simply remind myself of their larger humanity – try to imagine them doing nice stuff, which I am sure they have done.
But I too can be a petty asshole and I often, I do not feel like being that generous with my energy; because that kind of empathy, especially for those who have wronged us, may be noble and ultimately for the best, sometimes I just don’t wanna ;-).