I am having a love/hate relationship with Facebook again. On one hand, it allows me to get news and keep up with my friends in a way that I never could before. On the other hand, it seems to fruitlessly bring out the worst in people. I’m a pretty positive guy but so many people like to spew poison and negativity everywhere they go.
People seem to throw common courtesy and respect out the window when they can hide behind a keyboard, even when they aren’t anonymous. And the level of intellectual discourse bottoms out. Take, for example, an article I shared a few days ago about how we are entering an age where electricity will be clean and free. There are good arguments about the inaccuracy of the article, particularly the claim that it will be free, but nobody in my network made that argument. Instead, they said things like “HAHAHAHAHA … ‘free’” or “Psh, I wonder how much this author was paid by the solar lobbyists to write this article”.
That doesn’t foster discussion or show respect for the author or for me. It is a shitty move that most people wouldn’t do to strangers in public, but online this type of comment is normal. Now, the people who made these comments were not my friends in a real sense of the word. Yes, we were connected on Facebook but I’ve never met them and they haven’t built up any social capital with me. So, I deleted their comments. I think I’m going to start doing that more to people who say negative things that don’t bring anything intellectual to the conversation. I would have left the comment if someone had said, “We are certainly advancing but I don’t think we will reach the point of ‘free’ energy as the author argues, here are my thoughts on it (or further research or whatever)…”, but nobody did that. It was all asshole snark that seems all too prevalent in the libertarian movement*.
I’m finding my tolerance for snarky negativity is growing thinner and thinner. It is making social networks a less enjoyable experience, which I find unfortunate because I think it is a great tool that will continue to be an important part of people’s lives. So, I am faced with some options when dealing with people… I can just always delete their comments if they aren’t intellectually stimulating or I can unfriend people. The latter option is too harsh for me usually, unless someone is a hardcore racist, sexist, or bigot that I don’t think will change their mind with reasonable conversations. Though, I think most people can change their minds. I was a bigot once and if I can improve I think most people can.
* I’m sure this type of snarkiness isn’t unique to libertarians, it probably exists in all groups who tend to spend more time fighting and living among themselves instead of needing to explain their views to people who disagree. It might be incredibly obvious to people who have an Austrian Economic point of view why the energy will never be free, but my network is not just those people. I have military friends, friends from college in South Carolina, friends from high school in Oregon, DC coworkers, Burner friends from (mostly) California, and family.