(update: I’m not sure I deserve such thoughtful friends and/or comments but I really want to thank you for them, both here and on FB. The comments make much more sense than I do- you could skip directly to those. Several messages are clear (thank you for that honesty) and I take them to heart. First, I need to decide the tone and tenor of what I want out of social networking and really, it’s the lighter side of friendship and good natured sharing. I don’t much enjoy reading other people’s rants and the blogs I enjoy most are relatively free of them.
Belinda over on FB made a great point and here’s her comment, in case you don’t FB:
“The posts that are blatant lies or just baiting/trolling/hating, I used to speak up in a (hopefully, but not always successfully) positive manner, but now I ignore them. There’s no point wasting breath or getting your cortisol levels up. And no, President Obama does NOT “refuse at every turn” to salute the flag. Things that are utter poppycock, I feel no need to refute.
That said, I do believe that we can separate what people BELIEVE from who they ARE, and still maintain good relationships with those who think very, very differently from ourselves. I try, anyway, because when you break things down subject by subject, more people agree than disagree, and more people are good at heart than not. It’s like NPR’s Jay Smooth says–you want to separate the “what you did/said” conversation from the “what you are” conversation, because the two are often very very different.”
She then added this video link, which I think is just great. Click on it.
The second point, made most clearly by wise friend Judy, is about the power to pick and choose what you respond to in any one person’s postings and sometimes you take great exception to a part of what that person presents but there is value in the “friendship” in any case.
Finally, everyone seems to agree that yes, we are all preaching to our own choirs. Getting someone to open their mind and consider other possibilities is tough in most cases and impossible in some. Energy spent on those conversations is probably best reserved for real life encounters with friends and people where you can really have an open and honest and meaningful exchange of thoughts and ideas.
In this blog, while I did pull out a couple of identifying quotes that I found so offensive, unless you’re a reader of those posts, you wouldn’t know the person posting. And when I speak of how offensive I find them, I am truly commenting not just on those or the attitudes expressed by the person posting ( as opposed to the person) but the pervasively destructive spirit of so much political posting that shows up on FB and around the net. It’s an attitude that is blocking progress and change at every turn, in both political parties, when we are so desperately in need of progress and change. It’s gotten to the point where we merely move from one election to the next with four years of uninterrupted, spurious and vicious attacks that divide rather than unite. “Free speech” has become cheap and hopelessly stupid, “Freedom of the Press” has largely become meaningless garbage.)
In the arena of social networking among all your virtual friends, is it a matter of only preaching to your own choir, be it the Mormon Tabernacle or Buddhist monks chanting? What happens if you sing out of tune or say “I don’t like that song”? What constitutes “trash talking?” I was accused of that this morning. Certainly mocking someone’s post or opinion is low and not nice. I did that. Not that it justifies my rude behavior but I felt provoked. Lately, I’ve gotten increasingly disturbed by the raging, divisive bigotry that seems to be cropping up, all under the guise of expressing a political stand or opinion, frosted over with a layer of Christian fervor. It’s not just here and there; it’s all over the place and when one person posts something vile, people seem to come out of the woodwork, laughing and hooting in disdain.
My father was a hard-core right-wing Republican all his life. He liked Ike, Ayn Rand and he hated big government and welfare. My mother was a dyed in the wool Connecticut Yankee, a spoiled only child who could afford to be a bleeding heart Liberal. On Sundays, we would go alternately to the Congregational Church and the Unitarian Church and all week long they would fight like cat and dog over their respective viewpoints. It made for an interesting early childhood. But here’s the thing: They weren’t ignorant about their political beliefs and they weren’t disrespectful or dishonest or hypocritical. There was no tolerance in our household for racism and although my father would talk with a generalized disdain about the “welfare mentality” I never, ever witnessed him demeaning or disparaging someone because of their beliefs or station in life. They did not hold themselves up as paragons of anything and right about the time one or the other of us children would stick our nose in the air with an “ain’t no flies on me” attitude we’d get it with the fly swatter. It was clear from the get go that we were not to think we were better than someone else and we were not to believe that we had the definitive answer to anything. Ultimately, politics were politics and while it was important to be informed and take a stand, politicians and the media didn’t inform or define our moral values or way of life. Religion was personal.
So now I see and read what feels to me like hateful, misinformed and ignorant bigotry. Muslim and Islam: four letter words. Obama: I see pictures of him with a fly on his upper lip (I guess that means there are flies on him) with this caption:
The only reason we saw the Obama’s go to church is because there was an Islamist speaker there on Sunday.
I guess that doesn’t count as trash talk. How about a photograph of the president with four white military advisors and this caption:One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong, Can you tell which thing is not like the others By the time I finish my song?
Don’t get me wrong; this is not a pro-Obama post (although ask me and I’ll work on one). It’s about the anger I feel over the destructive, petty and vile way this country is conducting itself politically. Yellow journalism leads, ignorance follows.
It’s also about how I conduct myself when social networking (I may permanently ground myself from FB) and that leads back to the question. When you’re on Facebook or roaming about the blogging neighborhood do you feel compelled to be nice and say nothing at all? Do you keep your mouth shut if one of your friends posts material that really flies in the face of your moral code? And when that sets off the proverbial shit storm of, well then, get off my friend list? (I know, I know- get off.) The thing I’m really mad about is that I didn’t have the guts to say hey! This is just unmitigated ignorance and self-righteous nastiness. Instead, I take a pot shot. Shame on me. My father would have at me with the fly swatter for that.
I have something really nice for tomorrow. Promise.