I have a great friend group, whom I love very much. Mostly.
One friend, I'll call Mr. Banks, is mostly just someone who runs in the same circles as I do. He's very strong in his opinions and will start arguments but if you get upset, suddenly you're too emotional and he wasn't aggressive or an instigator. His opinions includes things that literally don't affect him. He tries to present as this carefree friendly type, but also the guy who knows all the facts of life.
In person, I feel like I can talk him through his weird aggression about topics and get him to be a little more empathetic. He sees me as someone who is intelligent and rational. On the other hand, I also feel like he doesn't respect me. He'll second guess my decisions and try to "correct" them and later when he finds out he's wrong he states that I need to speak up more. He's gotten in major arguments with three different people over text recently. One of our friends "Mickie" was feeling under the weather and "Scoobie" suggested he wear a mask, even if he tested negative for Covid. Cause ya know, sick is gross. Mr. Banks just had to type out paragraphs condescending on how masks didn't do anything. Scoobie is a highly anxious person and she worries about her friends (and everything else) a lot, so of course she was trying to be cautious in light of a pandemic. She backed down and talked to him in the DMs, mature of her, but the vibe I got from it irl was that they thought the conflict was on her.
Just like last week, "Shaggy" texted that she wanted to be deleted from the gc out of the blue. I said sorry if we were bothering her and followed her wishes. She explained that she wasn't upset with us at large, she just blocked someone and didn't want anything to do with them. No names or pronouns even mentioned, so we moved on. Except for Mr. Banks. He texts that he doesn't know what Shaggy said about him (he blocked her) but he wants to clear his name. We're all like no, we don't know or want to know anything and it takes a few minutes for him to finally drop it. Shaggy is relatively new to our friend group as a whole and now she's not in our hyper social group chat. Mr. Banks is also more established in the physical venue we know eachother through, so I worry she'll stop showing up there too. He talked about how their fight shouldn't impact our relationship with him, but in action their argument is affecting our relationship with her.
Most recently he sent some passive aggressive paragraphs about how there should be a straight pride month and when "Raine" got annoyed and told him to stop, he said sorry (sarcastically) for shoving heterosexuality down our throats. This was literally completely unprompted. Before this he (and other straight guys in the gc) were joking about being straight men attracted to straight men. Raine is literally one of the chillest person in the group and they just kinda stopped messaging. They're the type to use tone indicators to make sure everyone's understanding and having a good time. They're probably (read as definitely) upset, especially considering none of the other queers in the gc said anything. But I don't know how to help them.
Most of us are pretty non confrontational and his other friend group is made up of yes men. I feel like this is making him into a more abrasive person, and he keeps feeling like he's "winning" these arguments, when he's just creating conflict. He's gaining an inflated ego. But to be honest, I don't care. His character development is not my responsibility. What I do care about is that he keeps upsetting me and my friends. No one else in the group us like that.
I don't want to have my social outlet be a possible 24 hour broadcast of whatever drama he feels like that day. But I do know that he is a friend. He's been in a lot of our lives for a while and he can be funny. I don't really want to be friends with him, but I know he means a lot to some people.
I want to make a separate gc and mute the one with Mr.Banks, or block him entirely. I don't want a hostile relationship with him, I just want no relationship with him. But I also know how I interact with him affects the rest of the group. Usually the gc is just memes and little glimpses into eachother's daily lives. It's mass share of information and scheduling for hangouts. We do genuinely love eachother, this is just one bad apple. How do I approach this? I will be seeing a few friends (not involved in the arguments) irl soon, so I might ask them about it.
I’m sorry to hear that things within your friend group are so challenging right now. Mr. Banks seems to have a very domineering personality, which isn’t always a negative thing, but in this case, can be pretty upsetting to some people. You said that a lot of people in your friend group are non-confrontational, which is also not a negative thing depending on the situation. When it comes to standing up for something or someone, being non-confrontational can be a bit negative. In life, there are times to be confrontational, even if it isn’t in your personality. Confronting someone like this can be challenging, especially if Mr. Banks responds by calling you emotional. This is his way of damaging your credibility. To upset someone, then call them emotional is a form of manipulation. Here are some signs that you are being manipulated by a friend (notice numbers one and three): https://www.joinonelove.org/learn/5-signs-youre-manipulated-friendship/.
You’re right: His character development is not your responsibility. It might be a good idea to ask your friends how they feel about the state of the group-chat. I would start by stating your intentions and how you’ve been feeling. For example, “I’ve been feeling upset by what Mr. Banks has been saying, and this is what I’d like to do about it.” They can make the decision to join the new group-chat or not. A lot of people may not want to participate in a group-chat without Mr. Banks, and that is okay. Let the decision be theirs. Mr. Banks may find out out about this and be upset, but you are not responsible for how he feels.
It sounds like you no longer want to be friends with Mr. Banks but are worried about the fallout. Based on what you’ve told me about Mr. Banks, it will be difficult to not have some reaction from him. Here are some tips on dealing with friend drama that may help: https://www.dosomething.org/us/articles/the-dos-and-donts-of-friend-drama. He is going to try to get a reaction out of you if you approach him with this, so keep that in mind. It is important that you remain calm and keep a level head.
I know all of this sounds easier said than done. Don’t expect to be a pro at it after a couple of tries. This is something that a lot of people struggle with, including myself. Unfortunately, if you want out of this friendship with him, there is going to be some confrontation. He is either going to confront you online or in person. Sometimes, it is easier to communicate in person. That way, text can’t be misconstrued.
It is important that you focus on the situation at hand rather than talk about all of his past actions. If he does something passive-aggressive in person, call it out. Here are some tips on confronting a manipulative person that may help you: http://qara.org/dealing-with-manipulation-how-to-handle-confrontation-with-a-manipulator-part-2-of-2/. He may try to talk to others about you and be passive-aggressive the way he has been to other friends. If he does these things in your presence, it is up to you how to respond. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting him at a particular time, that is okay. You have the power to block, to walk away, and to stand up for yourself and your friends.