Mark Shea, a well-informed and prolific Catholic writer, is one of my Facebook friends. He has a wide circle of Facebook "friends," some of whom don't seem to like him much. That's what happens on Facebook when you open up your friend list to people you don't actually know. Some people want to "friend" you when, in actuality, they just want to fight with you and/or bash your religion or your politics.
I find the whole thing fascinating. He posts "hot" news items, makes a one-sentence comment, and then the fur flies. So far, I always agree with his take on these news items. He has compassion, intelligence, knowledge and good sense, which is a lot more than I can say for some of his "friends" that respond to his posts.
I spend WAY too much time trying to elucidate a logical, sane, fact-driven point because some of them haven't even a passing understanding of classical logic and its fallacies, and it just frustrates me. Most of them do not bother to actually read the articles that Mark posts, what to speak of any independent, original source material from which to form a cohesive, rational and fact-based point of view. I waste my time posting source material that bolsters my comments, only to have them ignored or discounted by people for whom opinion is king. Today, one guy even told me that he wasn't going to read the articles I provided, but that I should critique them and tell him which of my proffered articles was the least convincing! He was so lazy, he could not be bothered to counter my arguments himself. I was supposed to do it for him!
In one sense, it is invigorating. Crafting a good argument, making a good case, can be fun. In the end, however, it is a waste of time. Once I craft my case, no one will actually respond to it. Irrelevant comments abound. Eventually, I feel that I do not exist for these solipsistic Facebookers. There is no give-and-take. No conversation. No debate. They just repeat the same ridiculous, nonsensical arguments over and over again, and if I challenge them in a way that makes them look bad, they turn their ire on me and start to attack me as a person. Then it is a free-for-all.
When the dust clears, I feel terrible that I have wasted my valuable time pretending that I can enlighten anyone in a culture that is, for the most part, entirely closed off from incoming information that disagrees with the all-holy opinion that comes out of the imaginations of people whose rigidity of opinion is caused by mental laziness, lack of curiosity and disinterest in ultimate Truth. It feels as if many of these people "pick a side" that is already well-established, for instance, liberal or conservative, and then they argue from that position, with little, if any, independent thought. In their world, there are only two sets of beliefs....and that is it! They just swallow whole whatever side they've chosen. Today the gun lovers were attacking Mark for saying that some innocent people getting killed in a drive-by shooting was a "pro-life issue." That's all he said...and the crowd went wild.
Ultimately, my distress is my own fault. I already know that my main function, my "work," if you will, is prayer and contemplation. I accomplish a lot more doing THAT than I could ever hope to do by thinking up intelligent comments for Facebook. I am responsible for wasting my own time.
Despite being terribly interested in the topics on which Mark posts, I have got to stop reading him. But he is so INTERESTING, I whine to myself. Maybe I could still read him but avoid commenting on his posts. Okay, so I will let myself read him, but I have to exhibit some restraint and avoid commenting. He is just so darn INTERESTING, though. It will be hard. But I will try.
Silver Rose Parnell