Two nights ago, I shared this video...
Full disclosure here. I don't know anything about "Prager University" or what its ultimate agenda is. It's not a real university but some kind of think tank. I just thought the above video was interesting and agreed with some of the points raised by the woman speaking, although actually listening to her voice was kind of grating. However, because of the subject matter and the fact that I have a broad variety of "friends" on Facebook (many of whom I've never actually met), I hesitated briefly before sharing it on my page.
But then I figured, why not? It's my Facebook page, after all. So I shared the video with the comment that I thought it was interesting. I had a feeling that some of my more vocal friends would start a discussion. They did. Yesterday morning, I woke up and found several thought provoking comments. Most everyone managed to be civil, too. Naively, I thought perhaps the civility would continue. I even wrote how relieved I was that people were being civil.
Then a few hours later, a shitstorm commenced. One of my more liberal outspoken friends took one of my conservative friends to task for some of his comments. These two friends are people I don't know offline. One is a guy I linked up with after the demise of Epinions. The other is a woman I know from RfM. I know the woman better than I do the man because I have engaged with her in many discussions. She's very bright and unapologetically a feminist. The man I only know from reading his Epinions reviews and occasional status updates.
In fairness, the man had been commenting first and, though some of his comments were kind of inflammatory, the real trouble didn't start until he ran into my more liberal friend. When she showed up, a small verbal explosion ensued and it was definitely on! It was like mixing bleach with ammonia.
Most everyone seemed done with the thread, with the exception of my friend who is Judge Alex's brother in law, who added his two cents and then moved on. After that, the interesting discussion ended and it became an insult fest between a conservative and a liberal. The conservative was vehemently defending his views and the liberal was accusing him of being a racist and a misogynist. He, in turn, called her stupid. The discussion further devolved into name calling. It was quite unpleasant for me to watch, but I didn't ask them to stop or delete the article. I figured they'd wear each other out. I think/hope they finally did.
I was surprised no one posted this...
It amazes me how the Internet, and Facebook in particular, has changed the way people interact with each other. Twenty years ago, you could have friends from different walks of life. You might know someone from church and another person from school. They might never interact just because they both know you. They might never have a reason to. But on Facebook, your friends can end up mixing with disastrous results.
On the other hand, I also have a few friends who befriended my Facebook friends through me. I went to high school with one woman who realized that my father's cousin (who would be my cousin once removed) is married to a woman who was best friends with her parents. So they ended up befriending each other. I have another online friend who liked someone I went to high school with, so they became Facebook friends too.
I remember when I was sixteen I took a sociology class in high school. That was in 1988-89, before the Internet was a "thing". I remember learning how people tend to know people within a fifty mile radius. Back then, that was definitely true. We weren't thinking about how someday, we might find a new friend or even a spouse on the World Wide Web. Had it not been for my computer, I might still be a single woman... or I'd be married to someone else. This blog might not exist or perhaps it would be a "mommy" blog.
Generally, I think using the Internet for social purposes is a good thing. It can complicate things, though. For instance, thanks to the Internet, I can share my views with the world. People might like what I have to say or they might not. Random strangers can come on my blog and tell me it's "crap" and a waste of time to read. That happened to me last week. Or another stranger can tell me they agree with my views. Or maybe they'll just lurk silently and read every day. I know I have a few of those.
The Internet also opens people up to a huge host of different viewpoints. Many of the people I went to high school with are conservative and southern. Quite a few of them still live in the town where I was raised and haven't traveled much. They can have rather rigid viewpoints. I used to share a lot of those views until I got out and saw things. Then I started to become more liberal. I am still conservative about some things. Like, for instance, I am pro military and even, in some cases, pro war. But the views I used to embrace have modified a lot. I learn from other people and other viewpoints, even when they are shared in a Facebook feud. I think that's ultimately why I didn't ask my feuding friends to quit bickering on my page.
I guess if this were the 80s, I'd be hating my life more. Because without the Internet, I really would have to be the Overeducated Housewife. What would I do with my time if I couldn't post my opinions for the world to see? On the other hand, I might be less of a shut in. Maybe I'd make friends, see some things on my own, join some clubs, stop getting annoyed by every little thing... get some exercise. Hmmm.... maybe I'll have to think about that some more.