Recently, I have encountered (what I think is) a fairly common usage of the word "friend" that I consider to be insincere and offensive, but when I brought this up with the offending party, they said my opinion was clearly incorrect and "silly". The usage involves addressing complete strangers or random others (who have obviously opposing views) simply as "friend" (in responses or discourse).
A (simplified) example would be addressing an unknown person (e.g. in reply to a comment on YouTube) who has obviously opposing views as "friend".
Friend, are you saying that your opinion is the only correct one? (with the unspoken implication being that their opinion is questionable).
I view this as obviously condescending and insincere and therefore offensive - especially if it is done repeatedly or routinely. However, looking online, I could find very little about this usage and very few references discouraging it.
Can someone tell me what this is actually called, and if the usage is considered acceptable in English (or should it be avoided)?
Truthfully, I think it is reflexive, intended to "diffuse tension" in some cases, but it is also used sincerely in others. It is not about decorum - it strikes me as offensive because it is used so often (and frequently used in adversarial responses).