Monday, 16 July 2012
No matter what belief, faith or philosophical stance that is taken, the one holding it will one day be attacked for being different from the attacker. It is a sling fest, I believe, and perhaps it has always been so.
Today however it does seem to be more prevalent, no doubt because of our ability to communicate so much more easily than in the not so distant past and by that I mean just a few years. The internet gives everyone a place where they can speak their mind, post their thoughts and if they feel the need, to defend themselves from others who attack, put down, shame or just want to provoke an argument. Like the saying goes -- “Sometimes you’re the fly, at others you’re the windshield” -- expresses in a few words an almost universal experience for those who post on a regular basis or respond to posts often on the internet.
There is something about the internet, perhaps like driving a car, which can bring out the worst in people. Manners, respect for others can disappear and what is left is often just insults and mud slinging. People are not as anonymous in their cars or on the internet like they believe they are. The nicest people can be the worst kind of ‘jerk’ when they get behind the wheel, the same goes for being on the internet I believe. I have been that jerk in the past, and no doubt will be so in the future if I don’t watch myself and my responses that are irrational and unreasonable.
Assumed identities can be taken, fake pictures posted, or just an avatar and they are ready to rock and roll. Perhaps I should say ‘we’ are ready to rock and roll. I have said some really ignorant things to others over the years, and it has taken a long time for me to get some hold on it. Like driving, peoples reactions on the web or more often than not are not personal attacks but responses to some past experience lived out now.
A village atheist’s retort can for me bring back the energy from past experiences if taken personally. Once it is learned that it is for the most part a shot gun reaction, not personal at all, then the sting is taken away. Thin skinned people should really stay away from posting personal beliefs on any kind of public forum; it is open season all year round.
No matter what is posted, everything is read and interpreted and the intent of the author is often lost when receiving a response. Some responses are good and helpful, others are just angry blast or some deep misunderstanding that can’t be reconciled. It is best to be at peace with that sort of thing; it can’t be helped.
I have done this in the past to other posters and until I was informed ofthat fact --thatI did not understand what they meant when they posted -- I actually thought my response was right on target, but was not. So if someone gets what I post, well and good, if not, that is ok as well. Communication is difficult at the best of times, impossible more often that we would suppose.
Now there are those who post to provoke and insult. They have that right and I am glad that they can express themselves fully without fear of reprisal. Many of us need a place where we can express ourselves fully. I write for that reason, for healing and inner balance, which I have little, but as I age find that it is increasing. Writing does that for me I believe, as well as the sharing of it. Both are important components. I share nothing that others don’t experience and I believe that saves me from suffering from “terminal uniqueness” -- a very sad affliction.
How is communicating with those who disagree with you on the internet different from communicating with similar people face to face? What has your experience been with discussions on the internet? Have you ever been attacked because of your faith?