Friday, September 19, 2014
The Company I Keep
I've been thinking about blogging, and about Facebook, the two social media that I'm familiar with. I don't know about tweeting or being linked in and I don't do instagram or any other things. But the two I do use have given me plenty to think about.
The up-sides of social media, imnsho, are many and splendid. Social media provides a way to know what's going on with people we care about but who live too far away for us to see very often (or, in some cases, ever). Blogging has brought so many lovely people into my life; some I've met up close and personal and they did not disappoint. Others, probably I'll never meet, but I love having a virtual relationship with them. One blogger, well, I have no idea how we found each other, is a thinker and a writer and just a lovely soul and I'm excited that we have, at last, set a date to meet next month in her city. I was surprised when someone I was in school with for, I think, 13 years, but never was really close to sent me a "friend" request; that felt good because I didn't think this popular person would even remember me.
There's another side, though. I think that social media is contributing to a loss of civility. It is too easy to make a quick, judgmental response to a post on Facebook or in a blog. People "speak" hastily, not thinking about whether what they are saying might be hurtful. People respond in ways that they wouldn't (I hope) if they were in the room with the other person.
I went through a spell shortly before my self-imposed blog break where a couple of people castigated and insulted me because we had differing views on, of all things, the ice bucket challenge. Another individual flat out told me I wasn't fit to be a chaplain because I believe that a woman has the right to choose whether to be pregnant or not. Someone else denounced me as "non-Christian" because I think everyone should be able to marry whoever they want to marry. A Tea Party member finds me ignorant because I trust our President.
I thought a lot about these things, and about another person who is very, very quick to tell me that I am dead wrong even if the issue is a matter of opinion, not fact. I have had about enough of the quick and easy criticism from a woman who treats me as if I am an inept subordinate.
I asked myself, "Is my life richer and better because 'Delia' is my Facebook friend? What about 'Suzanna'?" And the answer was unequivocally "no."
So I've done a bit of "unfriending." And there may be more to come. Because, frankly, I don't need to hear negative opinions of my character, I don't care to be told my politics are erroneous, and I don't want to be told off because I don't want to be bullied into having a bucket of ice dumped on my head.
I'm thinking of that famous quote attributed sometimes to Plato and other times to Katharine Hepburn: "Be kind because everyone is fighting a hard battle."
If you're a Republican, if you are committed to the rights of the unborn, if your conscience tells you gay marriage is a sin against God, or if you need to put ice on your head to avoid giving to charity/need to post a video saying that you DID give to the charity, go ahead. I won't tell you that you are wrong, evil, non-Christian, or anything else. I won't say hurtful things about your positions.
I can live with our being different. If you can't, then, regrettably, we need to go our separate ways.
Posted by Nancy, Near Philadelphia on Friday, September 19, 2014