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.
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.
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.
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...