Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Religion of Facebook

I do not understand what Facebook has become.  What started out as a way to keep up with family and friends, a place for vacation shots and endless baby photos seems to have morphed into a bad faculty meeting.  (Yes, that is redundant.)

Where I used to see cat videos, now I see arguments.  Where I once saw photos of memorable meals, now I see endlessly shared-and-reshared political propaganda.  Today (in particular), I see arguments about which political party has been the most uncivil—a stygian task equal to picking your favorite turd in an outhouse.

There are many, many postings on Facebook that I just do not understand.  Why do people post a solitary Bible verse—with no explanation as to why that particular verse is relevant….to anything?  As a method of religious conversion, quoting a single random bible verse seems about as effective as hunting ducks at night.  I suppose if you fired off thousands of rounds straight up in the air at random intervals, sooner or later, you might hit something, but it would likely be the poor, sick, and low flying bird (if it was a duck at all).

If this strange method of digital preaching worked, you could probably stop people from being vegetarians by driving around the city, randomly flinging Vienna sausages at strangers.

Will you be brave enough to share this picture of….well, I have no idea whose picture this is, since I’m face blind and rarely recognize even photos of my family.  Even if I did recognize the person depicted, why would I want to post their photo completely out of context?  Can’t Facebook come up with an app that automatically eliminates any post containing the word “share”?

And while we are at it, what about those endless chain letter posts?  “If you share this, God will reward you with wealth, good luck, and a new puppy.”   Do these people actually believe in a divine and higher power that will pay off like a rigged slot machine if you will only pass on a Facebook post?  If it were that easy to manipulate the Almighty, by now wouldn’t we have….Oh, I don’t know….cured cancer, ended world hunger, or at least come up with a decent tasting light beer?

Why are there so many posts that tell me my Vampire Name can be calculated by coupling the month of my birth with the last brand of potato chips I ate?  Five centuries after Copernicus postulated heliocentrism, why do I still see so many posts about astrology?

Can we please stop the endless postings of Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, etc?  Everyone knows that All Lives Matter.  (Unless you multiply them by the speed of light, then All Lives Energy.)

Why are so many people worked up about abortions, gay marriage, and transgendered people?  I understand that your religion condemns these practices (and damn near everything else in the world) but if even half the nonsense your religion says about these subjects is actually true, why not just wait a while until you out-breed the bastards?  In the meantime, can we have a little peace?

Have you noticed that the same people who are worked up about abortions are equally worked up about assault weapons, but always on the other side of the issue?  There seems to be a very simple solution for both camps:  If you don’t want one, don’t get one, and it is none of your business if your neighbor does.

Facebook is not becoming a bully pulpit, it has morphed into a vast collection of isolated echo chambers, small discussion groups whose members have banded together to yell their favorite slogans at each other, confident that no member will make a coherent argument against their favorite prejudices.

Why do kind and decent people...people I have known for years...suddenly espouse hateful rhetoric online that they would never repeat in public?  Why do we accept statements that seem to justify hatred and bigotry just because someone posted a different opinion?  When did differences of opinion justify labeling someone as evil?

I guess what I am really asking is, "Why are so many people so angry?"  How did such an incredible medium of communication (something impossible just a generation ago) get turned into a tool that all too often brings out the worst in us?  Why do we share more anger than joy?

I want to see more cat videos.  I need more recipes.  Recommend a good cheap wine.  Tell me about the great book you are reading.  I want my sons, Whats-His-Name and The-Other-One, to post more photos of my grandkids.  Tell me a dirty joke.  You probably don’t want me in your political party anyway.

There is a great quote from one of my favorite movies, Harvey as portrayed by Jimmy Stewart:

“Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’ - she always called me Elwood - ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh-so-smart or oh-so-pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart.  Now, I recommend pleasant.  You may quote me.”

Okay, I just did.

1 comment:

  1. I do understand your frustration, Mark. However (and you knew that was coming didn't you)... However, I would like to say something about isolated Bible verses. Few of us who post those are attempting to save anyone's souls or to convert anyone. As you pointed out, it would be useless to do so for that purpose.

    What we Christians are doing is encouraging one another for the most part. I may run across a favorite Bible verse or quote from a fellow believer and I share it among my friends, most of whom share my beliefs. Those who don't get mad about anything I post anyway, so who cares.

    Most of us aren't erudite history professors. Most Facebookers don't write brilliant weblogs every week to cope with our need to share, since in modern society we have become increasingly isolated. We work in cubicles (boxes), we drive back and forth to work in increasingly box-like cars and we live in cookie-cutter box-like houses in rows and rows in identical neighborhoods. We sit in front of a box and watch packaged programming. We eat food that comes from a box you heat up in the microwave. Then suddenly there's this wonderful box comes on the scene and it's like the old front porch that has been eliminated from suburban architecture for the most part since the Vietnam War. Facebook is an electronic front porch. From it we shout out "howdy" at passing friends and strangers, who stop and share the news and the gossip, talk politics, religion, and show off pictures of their grandkids, and then mosey on their way. I remember listening to porch talk when I was a kid and it was pretty much stuff of the caliber you see on Facebook, except it's easier to share things. Once you clipped things from the paper. Now you copy them off others timelines.

    There are always going to be the bitchy local termagants and cranky old geezers. They used to argue with each other over the fence line or hedge. Now it's over Facebook. Nothing's really changed. Heck, even old guys like us still gripe because it's not like it used to be in the old days.

    I have a relative, my wife's cousin, who has twice unfriended me, blocked me and then rehooked up because I challenge his political posts. He asked me not to write on his timeline if it was about politics. I obliged him, so now he comes over on my timeline and snipes at me.

    I admit it, I get a certain sadistic glee out of taking apart his leftist talking points (he's a retired union official so he still gets the memo from the DNC on what he should believe. Unlike many others, despite his frustration and occasional snarky bouts of hyperbole, straw man reasoning and other violations of the rules of logic, he is able to find common ground with me on some things.

    We're two old geezers sitting on the electronic front porch sniping at each other. Kind of a Hatfields and McCoys without the buckshot. I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. I certainly get a lot of blog post material out of our conversations and I have 9 weblogs to keep up with. So Facebook seems a useful thing to me. I've only blocked one guy in my whole time on FB (12 years or so). That was because he used bad language, name-calling and posted dirty pictures. I have kids on my friend's list, so I couldn't put up with that nonsense. Argumentative, I can handle. As a card-carrying opinionated cranky old geezer I say, "Bring it on Bubba!"