off the wall…

Ever walk by a teeming hornet’s nest and feel the urge to walk over and just poke it?

Yeah, me neither.

So, if my impulse in situations where a group of bodies, all sporting stingers and known to react badly to outside engagement is generally to stay away then why the hell do I keep entering political/social/religious debate on Facebook?

Can I not see the swarm?

Can I not hear the familiar buzzing?

What can I possibly offer that’s edifying, I mean, really. What changes things here?

I’m on this because I have this wildly diverse group of friends- in real life and in cyber life too. It feels as though each day brings with it a new opportunity to hear the buzzing and the potential to feel the sting. It’s not quite like the car crash metaphor I drew a few weeks ago about my fascination with Sarah Palin. This is personal, this is up close and in fact, this is also avoidable on my part.

If I don’t ever feel the need to pick up the hornet’s nest why would I invite myself into the hornet’s nest of cyber debate?

I’m just going to say this…and I admit it’s a hugely judgmental attitude on my part but mostly I saying it to ME, to remind ME that I believe this…

Arguing hot button issues on Facebook is stupid.

I could use a kinder word but I won’t. I’d like to be able to let grace inhibit some areas and say, “maybe it’s just my circle of friends I can’t argue issues with on Facebook” but I’m not going to…I’m sticking to this. I’m making a global statement, something I try not to do, really, and say that until we all have a better understanding of proper discourse and can summon real authentic dialogue skillz…we had all best not argue politics/social/religious issues on Facebook.

I mean come on, really people…don’t we have friends and family we can argue with in real face to face time? Maybe it’s more hurtful in person or risky…maybe it’s more real when we say it out loud. Maybe it’s better “thought out” and planned when we argue online…maybe not.

I think Facebook offers us detachment. We can say what we think we believe and in what we think is the best possible way. I always think I phrased things perfectly when I’m arguing on Facebook…and I’m pretty much always wrong. You know why? Because no one can phrase things perfectly enough in a cyber debate.  There is still far too much personal, emotional or spiritual information missing. I don’t know anything more about Joe Schmoe commenting on a hot button topic by looking at the 3 one line answers he gave about his beliefs on his profile page than I do about a stranger sitting next to me at the bus stop. Even the people I have known a long time, the people whose profile is etched on our shared histories is not going to get a fair shake from me in that cyber debate. Those are the people I think I need most to hear or feel in person. I judge them just as easily, maybe more easily, when they make a post on a hot button issue.

When we argue these things on Facebook, friends, seriously, I think we lose a tiny bit of our humanity each time. I might be making too much of this, I do that sometimes. I confess that I’m only posting this today because the hornet’s nests on my friend feed the last few days have been buzzing their own brand of siren call and I want so much to engage…to ask a question, to clarify a statement, to challenge a thinking…and I’m realizing just now, as I write this, how limited anti-social media can be, how limited I feel and how sad I feel already for those tiny shards of humanity lying on the floor at the base of my Facebook wall.

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2 thoughts on “off the wall…

  1. I agree with you. I have a theory. I personally stick my hand, or my foot, or my whole self, sometimes, Hokey-Pokey style, into the hornet’s nest. These intemperate moments, for me, coincide with anger. Yes, gasp, anger. Here in the South, you can call a woman fat before you can call her angry; it’s the worst insult I have seen. But too bad. When I am angry at things in ways I can’t resolve, I am drawn to the hornet’s nest, because I see the same stupidity / insensitivity / ignorance / cruelty / selfishness that got me angry in the first place. It’s not hard to see. When you have a hammer, all you see is nails. So in I go, and of course I get stung from head to foot, and I sting back, and when I finally withdraw I feel worse than ever. And my arrogance is in there too – I become sure that my braininess and self-expression will triumph over all. Of course when I finally withdraw my anger isn’t just unresolved – it’s written all over the more-permanent-than-we-realize medium of someone else’s wall. Although, lately I have been going back and deleting all of my comments when I come to my senses… it leaves me fellow arguers looking nuts since they are responding to someone who isn’t there. Where was I? Oh yes, edifying. Hmmm. not so much. The funny thing is we rarely discuss this stuff in person. Why? Because we.know.better.

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