19 April 2020

Social media seems to be getting uglier and uglier

I have been ordered back to work on Monday, so that will pull me out of this somewhat, but being at home I have spent more time on-line than is my wont.  It is not a healthy state of affairs.

What brought this on is the vituperation that has been flowing out (never back and forth, because those on either side are not speaking to each other, only of each other, and usually in only the worst of terms.) over the subject of whether or not the quarantine should be relaxed. For what it is worth, I support the continued quarantine, but I can also see that others have their point. Some are concerned about increased government intrusion into the lives of the people, and that is no trivial matter. Some are worried about the impending collapse of the economy, and that is also a very weighty matter indeed. As Brad Pitt said in the movie "The Big Short": 'Here's a number for you: Every time the unemployment rate goes up by 1% 40,000 people die.' That is not trivial.

These are matters worthy of weighty debate, but that is not what I have found on the social media.  The tendency I have noticed is the same as CS Lewis noted in his own time:

"There is always the danger that those who think alike should gravitate together into ‘coteries’ where they will henceforth encounter opposition only in the emasculated form of rumor that the outsiders say thus and thus. The absent are easily refuted, complacent dogmatism thrives, and differences of opinion are embittered by group hostility. Each group hears not the best, but the worst, that the other groups can say."

There is also the tendency to ascribe to one's foes the very worst of motivations, as though we were mind readers, seers into the souls of others.  

I have to push back against this influence within myself.  The only conscience that I am required, that I am even permitted to examine, is my own. I remind myself, constantly, that the confiteor does not run thusly:  "I confess to Almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that they have sinned through own fault, in their thoughts and in their words, in what they have done, and what they have failed to do, through their fault, through their fault, through their most grievous fault..."

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.


Evangeline said...

Sooner or later, if anything remains standing after the Democrats have allowed it to all be burned down, we will all go back to work. It's hard to imagine that day coming now.
Social media has become a swamp. Not just in the secular world but now also the Catholic blogosphere. It's hardly any different at all. We are all pretty entirely polarized.
And now it's about to hit the fan in an entirely worse way.
God bless you and all here.

DP said...

It's beyond unpleasant. It's a bedlam that makes people meaner.

Bear said...

Well, I've tried not to give in to the impulse to fire off quick hits and meanness. Mayn I be forgiven for the times I have failed.

DP said...

You have not been a problem. I know I have--and more importantly, it's really not good for me even when I behave well.

Bear said...

I've always respected your opinion, Dale, even when I disagreed. I always thought of you as someone with whom I could hold a disagreement, and it would not be taken personally. But I understand the need to take a step back and walk away from time to time. You stare into the darkness too long, it becomes all you can see. Take a break, see some light. These are not the best of times to be connected tot he news and people's opinions of it 24/7.