Today I was reminded of the day that I stopped blogging regularly. It’s been 3 years or so. The trigger for this memory was a posting in a Facebook group. Someone decided to leave the group because it caused some vexations in her spirit.
I’ve been there. I left a group maybe 5 years ago after an IRL meeting, a few postings to an anonymous blog and a few phone calls left me vexed in my spirit. I’ve left another group because I didn’t like the way the group was evolving and the postings and comments in the group became more bitter and at times just plain nasty. I’ve had a group that meant a lot to me fade away slowly because of centripetal forces – new blogging tools, new social media outlets.
But I stopped blogging 3 years ago because of a conflict I had IRL with a home-school group. I still post some things, but I just haven’t had the vigor that I had in the past. I’ve become circumspect. I’ve encountered conflict on the internet before – I encountered conflict on the proto-internet 30 years ago – and what I have learned is this: if your participation in a group causes you pain and agony; if it vexes you in the spirit, for your own self care – leave.
30 years ago, I posted some things on a bulletin board for a computer club here in Atlanta. I was looking for social interaction – the guys on the BBS were looking for a good argument (a la Monty Python, I am sure.) My feelings were hurt and I found another BBS that was more interested in socializing.
Another thing I have learned is that social interaction on the web can have real world implications. Such was my conflict with this homeschool group. I could not sign their statement of faith, but I really wanted to join this group. I suggested to the group that I my statement of faith found in the UM Book of Discipline was equivalent (except for infant baptism). After much discussion, they decided “no.” This got to me. I’m all about inclusivity. The more people at the party, the more fun you can have. I love getting to know people that are different that I am – I believe they enrich my life. But I could accept that they wanted a homogenous group and I could have taken that rejection. My children could not. And then the children of the other moms got involved. They began to troll my blog and made a few horrible comments.
I’ve been thinking about this for 3 years. So much of life deals with conflict but at least IRL there is not a permanent record of the conflict. On the internet, there is. IRL you can discern if a person is serious or joking around. On the internet, not so much.
I’m not the only person who has encountered these demons of conflict on the internet. For the last three years, I’ve watched controversy and conflict pick people up in a maelstrom of emotions and then deposit them beaten and bruised in a desolate place – where there is little to no human interaction or grace to be found.
So for the last three years, I’ve written essays and not posted them. I’ve typed in comments on Facebook and not sent them. I’ve written tweets and not pressed enter. I ask myself, “Am I posting this for the good?” and if the answer is “no” I don’t post.
As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus used to say on “Hill Street Blues” - Hey, let's be careful out there.