I took a short break from Facebook. I had gotten into a political/theological argument with an old friend and adversary. This had happened years before, with the same friend. In that case I resigned from that discussion forum. But despite my intention not to allow myself to get riled up, here I was blowing up again on this newer digital human interface. There is something about FB that seems to facilitate explosive argument.
I suspect that FB appeals mostly to the feminine aspects of human behavior and personality. It’s really kind of domestic: we post pictures, we talk about our kids, we share recipes. I come from a family that has been matriarchal as far back as I have been able to trace. The men have died young and left their widows to raise the kids and to see to the grandchildren for decades. The women mostly thrive, but the men have fallen into dysfunction. Those of us who survive manage to get along in an emotional system ruled by women. So I plunge into FB because it feels like home.
But I’m not entirely feminized. I have this masculine side that wants to be right, that wants to influence other people more directly. So when I start saying what I think about the way the world works and the way I’d like it to work, people, both men and women, who also like to exercise this more masculine approach to human relationships, assert themselves. Competition escalates, and almost instantaneously an online shouting match ensues.
One of the problems is that FB just isn’t constructed to facilitate focused debate or discussion. It’s filled with the distractions of domesticity: The president is a jerk! Look at my cute kittens. My child has a cold, any ideas for remedies? No he’s not! I’m having home canned peaches for lunch. Here’s a picture of my vacation in Sweden three years ago. Who’s not? Anyone up for a party? You’re a racist bastard! Here’s a cute, clever, inflammatory poster I copied from somewhere. Here’s the song I listen to when I’m depressed. And the 99%… You get the idea.
For me the problem is that I really don’t want to argue for argument’s sake. I want to figure things out and talk with other people who want to figure things out. And that almost never happens on FB. It’s too distracting.
So here’s my new tack: a blog. Original, eh? Here I can post my ideas (if I have any more), and people can discuss them or not. I realize that they will also have on the radio and the TV and FB and a dozen other browser and chat windows going simultaneously. But I nevertheless have this slim home that a few people will gather here to talk about issues and ideas. We’ll see.