I follow several Catholic organizations on social media. Many times I have come very close to unfollow all of them (and have already unfollowed several) – why? Because I get sickened by the comments people write on the posted articles.
An example is the Facebook page of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB). The comment section usually descends into an embarrassing darkness that any secular person would be justified to question everything we profess to believe. No matter what gets posted, a nasty battle ensues, and we are not the better for it.
Twice I have written a comment urging the moderator of the page to intervene or to clarify. For the worst cases, Facebook now has the option of “hiding” a comment where the author and his/her friends can still read it, but nobody else can. A moderator needs to be attentive in order to truly moderate.
So often people do not comment on the topic at hand. People go off on tangents, insult and judge. The thought that the internet would be a source of greater cooperation and unity among human beings has gone up in smoke. Social media has made us unhappier.
I am reading the book titled iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood where the author explores the patterns of thought and behavior of those born after 1995. A line struck me recently that applies to all of us: “there is a simple, free way to improve mental health: put down the phone, and do something else.”
Why do I stay on these social media platforms and at times engage people even though I know I will not change their minds? Because the conversation remains written online and is read by many others who say nothing. I hope to be an example of remaining civil and calm while others lose their cool. I hope that others will learn from the conversation.
I have been blogging for several years and have endured all sorts of judgements and insults. Why not ask a question rather than to lash out with rash judgement? One has to be thick skinned nowadays to be online. I do have a threshold of when to stop: when attacks become personal or a person becomes irrational. Then I close the conversation, hide and/or delete comments.
I understand why many websites that used to allow comments no longer do so. I often wonder if I should do that here on my own blog. But then the good comments come to mind… I am reminded that not everything is dark and gloom, and I leave the comments on, and I continue engaging with others.
Picture from public domain.