Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | August 2, 2018

The Internet: Bringing Out the Ugly in People? Turning the Tables

Trolls

The Internet is awesome at bringing people together who might not work or study with each other or otherwise interact. However, one of the darker sides of the Web involves the “collision of cultures”, as it were, in how people interact with each other. I think a certain degree of anonymity encourages people to engage in behavior that they wouldn’t dare to face-to-face.

Here is one of four different “tales from the dark side” that come to mind which I’ve personally witnessed or been involved in. I’ve offered a few thoughts on each of these incidents that I hope might give people something to think about.

Getting the Tables Turned – and Not Liking It

In the last few days leading up to the election, an outburst about a Catholic parish’s bulletin which (incorrectly, according to diocesan officials) stated that Democratic voters were risking hell resulted in one person getting an unceremonious booting from my FB feed when the offending party stooped into outright trolling directed against anyone who disagreed with them. This person, despite claims of not being particularly religious, really did a good job of alienating people who had never even done anything to personally wrong them based on a difference in religious opinion.

This same person later had the tables turned when a public post prompted commentary from a couple of users who were apparently complete strangers to the OP, flooding the comments under the post with political memes. Rather than ignoring the commentators (which would have been a more adult way to handle it, FB’s blocking tool is Divine Providence-sent IMO), the OP just HAD to retaliate by calling the commentators “snowflakes”, “Commies”, “bots”, and things of a similar bent, sometimes veering towards painting all people of a liberal pursuasion with the same brush.

The OP’s seeming venom and hatred towards anyone who is liberal or otherwise not in agreement with their politcal/religious beliefs was obvious, yet I know that this person  has close family members who are liberal and/or not in agreement with them religiously. Were these just poorly thought out comments made in the heat of the moment, or do they express how they really feel towards those who disagree with them, even people they say they care about? If it’s the latter, that us very troubling indeed.

Here are some passing thoughts I’ve had since this incident:

  1. A lot of people don’t know their own faith’s actual teachings on certain issues, and Catholics are no exception. Just because a commercially-produced bulletin likely written by copywriters says something doesn’t make it a fact. It’s unfortunately a lot easier for people to use whatever faith tradition they profess to be as a club to verbally beat others with than to educate themselves on their own beliefs. I’ll provide a helpful hint that might shed some light on the issue, courtesy of the Catholic Church’s catechism. Simply put, it’s a HUGE leap to reach the conclusion that voting Democrat = mortal sin, go to hell, do not pass go.
  2. If more people would just unfollow, restrict, unfriend and block people who act up on social media sites, fewer people would end up embarassing themselves. When a person responds to rude comments in a similar vein, I think it says more about the “offended party” than it does about the person that made the rude commentary to begin with, and it isn’t positive. Someone has to be an adult, and not giving in to comments designed to provoke is a good way to start.
  3. People who consider themselves to be “good Christians” of any persuasion really shouldn’t attack people who disagree with them by name-calling, insulting them instead of addressing their argument, or playing the “you’re going to hell card”. Keep this in mind – there is such a thing as spiritual abuse them some people have been subjected to on multiple occassions, and not everyone shares their experiences. Should you behave towards someone in a way that awakens unpleasant memories, don’t be surprised if they want nothing further to do with you.

Also interested in my thoughts on Cyber Gunfight at the Social Media Corral, She-Who-Hates-Episcopalians, and Ganging Up on Crafters? These will come at a later time, but will address more issues related to the often disgraceful behavior that happens online and what rational, responsible people can do about it.

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