Friday, November 30, 2012

Fear and Loathing in Social Media, Part 1

I think I always knew that the balance between writing about our family and preserving our privacy would be tenuous.  And make no mistake, we're private people.  We don't participate much in social media, blogging excepted.  I've had close to this very conversation with the Head Honcha over at Deus Nos Conjuxit.

I've told Majesty many times that I wanted to be completely, utterly truthful with CJMP, since it's somewhat of a family history.  But just like any history, an author has to be selective - sometimes extremely so - about what to include and what to leave out.  And I leave out a whole lot.

So I've tried to be absolutely truthful, but not particularly open, if that makes sense.  Why?  Because privacy is truly important.  And because people are jerks.  Aaaaaand because some people are just downright crazy.

Two stories for you today, illustrating why I sometimes desperately hate the internet.

I'm Sorry, What Did You Say You Do for a Living?
I stumbled across a website recently and quickly realized that it was entirely dedicated to a specific religious dispute.  One guy got crosswise with another guy, everyone chose up sides... and one side got a website design firm!  Boy, that sounds healthy, doesn't it?

 I was familiar with many of the people mentioned.  Some of the alleged slights were from a decade ago, and were at times difficult to even parse out.  It was rabbinical hairsplitting at its very finest.  Worst.  Whatever.

The site was shameful and it made me mad.  Incredibly, there was a "CONTACT US" link at the bottom of the (anonymous) site that linked to righthandman@heaven.org or whatever.  I fired off a curt, but mostly nice, request.  I said they should be ashamed of themselves and the site, and I encouraged them to take it down.  Its usefulness, I said, if it ever had any at all, had long since passed.  Made it perfectly clear that I considered myself their Christian brother, but I was absolutely appalled by what they had done.

And then I totally forgot about it.

I checked my email weeks later (it's not one I use often) and there's a note in there from an unfamiliar address.  Yep, you guessed it.  This guy had torn into me hammer and tong.  Ripped me up, down, left, right, backwards, forwards.  Quoted lots of scripture.  Lots.  Repeatedly implied I wasn't a real Christian.  Y'know, like him.  He mocked.  He just dripped with this sneering sarcasm.  He was... well, bear with me as I use the technical theological term:   an unparalleled jerk.

I thought, "Who IS this guy?!" and looked him up.  He's a preacher in the Midwest.  That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I had just had my head handed to me by a preacher.  Friends and neighbors, there's something very, very wrong with that.

The Best Argument Ever for Comment Moderation
You'll be shocked to know this, but this isn't a bigtime blog.  I don't get an onslaught of comments.  Friends and wellwishers will post a note or two, and that's about it.  So I was pretty surprised to see a completely anonymous comment, posted at the freaking crack of dawn Wednesday.  I would just describe it to you, but honestly, I can't do justice to this degree of snarling insanity.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Jack, Meet Rudyard.":

Tax havens. Entitlement. Bad teeth. Dead eyes. Narcissism. Cute kids with the right clothes. Yes, behold the fall of the American Empire, writ large on electrons which shall vanish after not too long a time; hopefully before the author of this garbage expires. Long live white people. Until they stop.

Posted by Anonymous to Captain Jack Makes Port at November 28, 2012 5:14 AM
Say, were you casting about for a definitive sign of American collapse and Western cultural decadence?  Look no further!  There's a kid's blog in Texas that is going to destroy us all!  Repent!  Repent!

Man, there's so much fun to be had here that I was tempted to give it a post of its own.  Apocalyptic warnings?  Check.  Cheap ad hominem?  Check.  Unhinged race baiting?  Check.  Nonsensical conclusions?  Check.  Arcane grammar?  Double check.  Drive-by insults?  Got 'em.  A veiled death wish?  Yes!

Listen, there are cranks everywhere, sure.  But it's more than a little disturbing that this sort of pseudointellectual crank is on our blog, looking at pictures of our kids, apparently seething with vitriol.  Why would someone bother with material they found so offensive?  I have no idea.

The End (of this Post) Is Near!
 The underlying problem is that somehow, somewhere, we decided that we could say absolutely anything on the internet, no matter how awful it was.  Think about it:  This 42 year old unemployed circus clown, dressed in his jammies and writing from his mom's basement person would never, ever say this to me in person.  Nobody would.  Because there's a general fear of getting your lights punched right clean out.  But anonymously, it's totally okay, it's moral.  You're still a nice, sensible, wonderful person.  That's not the real you.

But that's not true.
"The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks."  -Luke 6:45
I don't have much of an overarching point here, other than to encourage us all not to be jerks... not in real life, not in your words online.

And if you see comment moderation suddenly pop up around here, just smile and nod to yourself, knowingly.

Continued in Part 2.


Morgan said...

Ugh. People can be jerks. Especially people hiding behind computer screens with too much time on their hands. We've had some nasty-gram comments as well, which is one of the reasons I switched to a more anonymous blog a couple of months ago. No names on there but my own. You should see the comments we were seeing from anti-adoption folks. It was vile.

Your children are precious (even if they're white, poor kids), and I always love reading your posts.

El Comodoro said...

Thanks for that. And I'm super naive, but I didn't even think about there BEING anti-adoption folks. Just never even crossed my mind that it would be a legitimate position to take. Again, I'm naive.

And hey, while I've got you, I owe you a bigtime apology: I never wrote to tell you how sorry I was for your Dad's passing. He was a wonderful man and I miss talking with him. I still remember his great, great tribute at Uncle Carrol's memorial service.

In any case, I'm sorry for not making the time to shoot you a note, as small an act as that is.

Have GOT to see some of the blog nastygrams, by the way...

Roxanne said...

I, like you, recently had a Christian sister tear into me. This over a good work that we are both trying to do and after only ONE MEETING where we even talked to each other. She did it by letter--and, obviously, I have to see her. What chapped my hide was after she tore me up, she ended by saying, "I hope you take this in the spirit in which it was intended. In Christian love. . ."

Um. I'm pretty sure that I got her intent, and there was NOTHING loving about what she wrote.

My only reply was to tell her that she is my sister, I love her, and I hope the season she is entering with her new work is one of refreshing.

Guess what--got yet ANOTHER diatribe.

I think that we have decided as a society that we have the "right" to speak our minds, when sometimes we just need to take a deep breath and shut up.

Roxanne Langley said...

BTW. I love your whitey, white kids. . .your whitey, white wife. . .AND you--a sandy-haired, whitey, white boy. Who READS to his son while sitting in his suburban dwelling.

How about THAT for speaking my mind???

Jennifer said...


I launched into a very similar sentiment on the way to church this morning which we drove passed a church that was doing something very similar to what you describe ("splitting rabbinal hairs").

And since you do not want to hear me up on my soapbox about all of this, I will leave it at that.

Morgan said...

No worries, Morgan. We miss him too. And your Uncle Carrol. I used to love listening to them talk and swap (tall) tales. :)

Yeah, we never knew there were anti-adoption folks either until we waded into all of this. But I've learned that there are people against everything under the sun, no matter how worthy.

Just read your second post under this topic--great stuff! Love your disclaimer at the bottom of the post.