Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I don't need this. I have ex-wives.

I’d like to blame it on Mafia Wars but I can’t.

Back when I played that stupid Facebook game (along with 1.7 million others from around the globe), I sought out online friendships with anyone and everyone so that my Mafia would be stronger and I’d win more fights. Why I thought any of that mattered is beyond me. I guess I forgot that I’m a middle-aged man and not an eight-year-old. Actually I ended up winning less.

A lot of mindless Dubya supporters played Mafia Wars. A lot of racist, pro-war bigots played Mafia Wars. A lot of ignorant, sexist Bible-thumpers played Mafia Wars. So any time I posted a status update expressing an actual opinion about something instead of just announcing that I'd leveled up or declared war on some faceless enemy from someone else’s Mafia, I’d receive responses from all over telling me to keep my politics to myself or suggesting I move to Saudi Arabia or advising me to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior before it was too late.

I would then make the mistake of trying to engage with these people as debate opponents. I would try to use experience and logic and reason. And I would get my clock cleaned. I would be treated to vicious insults and name-calling and people would spew right-wing talking points as if repeated usage secured access to some secret club where naked waiters and waitresses passed out Coney dogs and cans of Budweiser all day and everything was free. When I expressed my opposition to the Iraq war, I would be asked why I didn’t appreciate my freedom. When I disclosed that I questioned the existence of god, I would be told to prepare for an eternity serving as Satan’s sex slave. When I dared to post something negative about George W. Bush, I’d be labeled an enemy of America who wouldn’t know a true hero if he kicked Chuck Norris’ ass right in front of me.

When I came to my senses and abandoned my Mafia – in part due to Anita’s gentle encouragement, since she preferred that I spend my time on income-producing endeavors rather than insipid Zynga games – I unfriended thousands of people. It took days going through the list – I tried to keep those who used their brains as well as their computer mouse – but it felt cleansing and positive. I assumed my days of using my keyboard to argue were over.

They’re not.

Because my friends have friends, I’m still running across people who want to deport all of the illegals and require drug testing for all the baby-making welfare queens. I’m still trying to communicate with losers like Leo, who told me “the illegals have been sucking off the tit of hardworking Americans for years” and accused me of being a Teabagger (which I still don’t understand). I’m still dealing with slugs like Sheila who, in response to my assertion that we're all neighbors on Planet Earth and what helps some of us helps all of us, offered this sound, well-reasoned response: “Interesting....I need help painting my house. What time can I expect you here?” I’m still encountering vacuous vegetables like Vickey, who thinks every person who receives government assistance should be visited at home, tested for drugs, and questioned at length about “anything that needs to be asked.” (She’s of course silent on the whole corporate welfare issue.)

Few things are as irritating as trying to debate someone who clearly doesn’t know what he or she is talking about and being attacked and insulted and misrepresented in the process. And the gang mentality is alive and well in cyberspace, which makes things worse.

The irritating arguments aren’t just coming from the right. Whenever I criticize the Savior in Chief, I can expect my progressive credentials and support of the POTUS to be dismissed by those who see any question or objection to an Obama Administration policy as proof that I’m in collusion with the Dark Side. I’ve been admonished for helping the Republicans and accused of getting talking points from Fox News and told I might as well be pals with Sean Hannity. (I’d rather drink Drano.) An anti-Obama status update I posted on Monday has generated 74 responses and counting, not all of them nice.

I want to interact positively with people. I know I’m not always right. I want to respect different opinions and embrace diversity of thought and approach all my online encounters with patience and compassion. Nothing’s worse than a self-righteous know-it-all with a goatee and a beer belly. But some things are right and some things are wrong. I can’t excuse prejudice and ignorance and narrow-mindedness in order to be able to sit at the computer with a smile on my face. My cross to bear is that I can’t always go along to get along.

I’m still learning how to pick my battles. It sure isn’t easy. Maybe by the time I’m 50...


  1. Patrick: I, like you, met several people via Facebook for the purpose of "increasing Mafia strength". That's how I met you, we were Mafia buddies! But, looking at news feeds and realizing that we both had Michigan ties, I kept you as a FB friend after I quit MW. Your blog is relevant, my wife and I enjoy reading it and sounding off on it! Keep it coming, and may we have a Federal Government that respects the people who elected them...otherwise, my wife and I might look at Toronto as a new home!

  2. I agree! I hope I wasn't what you considered as insulting in my continued support of Obama. It's got it's holes but I do believe what I said about him. I can't possibly fault you though, since I've been so shaky myself. I have received those insults from many MW peeps also. Some managed to become friends, others are gone. This is a grand experiment. I for one am honored to have you as a friend. If you agreed with me on everything, I would never learn from you and that would be sad. By the way; It's Mary. I can't seem to get a profile besides anonymous post a comment.