Wednesday, February 5, 2014

We Need More Civility in the Land of Lord Zuckerberg

This post is about civility in Facebook – or rather, the lack of it in some quarters.

I noticed an interesting meme in a Facebook group yesterday:

As I read the comments below the post, I felt compelled to disagree with those who found the meme offensive and untrue. All I said was, “I disagree. I find the meme provocative and sadly accurate.”

Well, you’d think I called the original poster a Nazi and his mother a whore. He instantly went into attack mode, telling me I knew nothing about the Holocaust and ridiculing my use of the word “provocative.” Another Facebooker weighed in, agreeing with me, but Original Poster would have none of it. He reverted to the habit of shouting – AKA TYPING IN ALL CAPS – which should have been my cue to exit the “conversation.” Instead, I stuck around to see him post an educational video clip and accuse me of “slandering the living hell out of Holocaust victims.” How he got from “I disagree” to “Holocaust victims were ugly, unscrupulous jackasses who didn’t have the sense God gave a goose” is beyond me.

I too was guilty of degrading the quality of the exchange. I called the guy a “dickhead” and became acerbic, telling him I was confident in my knowledge of history and suggesting that he take a typing class.

Fortunately, Other Facebooker who I mentioned above posted the following summative comment:

"One of most appalling lessons to be learned from that nightmare is that seemingly good people are capable of allowing horrendous things to be done to their neighbors and friends without batting an eye or intervening."

I ended up being blocked by Original Poster – who also blocked Other Facebooker and deleted the entire exchange, meme included – and gaining a new virtual friend (Other Facebooker). After Original Poster erased all traces of our reasoned debate, another friend pointed out that shutting people up and removing all traces of them was in fact something that Hitler also tried. Is that ironic or what?

I’m not sure why courtesy in behavior and speech is lacking online and in real life. (Studies have been done on this, I know, but who has the time to read those?) Maybe it’s a side effect of Groupthink. Maybe some folks just can’t handle being challenged or consider any viewpoints other than their own. Maybe it’s Obama’s fault. Or maybe it's my fault. As I’ve aged, I’ve embraced the idea – right or wrong – that I’ve earned the right to speak my piece without caring if others like me or not. I really should temper my temper and remind myself that I’m probably not going to change any minds in the Land of Lord Zuckerberg. But it’s just so aggravating when people are wrong.

At least I never type IN ALL CAPS.

1 comment:

  1. In my view you have indeed earned the right to speak your piece without caring if others like you. I, of course, thought you spoke it in a entirely civil way and liked you just fine for it. It was a disappointment to me that Original Poster torpedoed the conversation with his stock snarkiness as an honest open examination of the complacency of the American public in the face of what's being done to us seems to be most sadly lacking and desperately needed. Chris Hedges, whom I greatly admire, spike here Monday night. His passion and obvious distress on this subject is both inspiring and difficult to hear. On a cheerier note, there is some reason to hope that it will get above zero around here today, speaking in terms of temperature and so, on we go, with best regards from The Other Poster