Friday, 23 September 2016

The Very Bigoted World of Facebook

Facebook has given the ordinary individual enormous opportunity to state their views and judgments on a wide range of topics, and hundreds of thousands of us have taken the opportunity to do so. Anyone with a FB presence will at times be inundated with Friend requests and be exposed to an astonishing variety of attitudes both local and global. Personally I have found the parallel existence of maintaining a FB presence to be irritatingly time consuming and oddly addictive. It can also be interesting most of the time, thought provoking at other times and attention grabbing occasionally. What has startled me most, however, is just how frequently those who appear to be educated, literate and even scholarly, demonstrate little ability to tolerate the views of others. Though they are able to hold forth with some eloquence on a topic and may well lull the reader into the false notion that a debate of some kind is being elicited, any opposing opinion may well unleash a diatribe of hostility. Only supportive comments are being sought. I should add that when posing a contrary opinion I am at pains to do so in as polite and non threatening a manner as possible so it has been astonishing to me when the response immediately includes a fair amount of aggression and intimidation. And it’s also quite sad because some of the worst offenders would appear to have a story to tell and right on their side and for a number of reasons are waging a crusade for some kind of justice. I have more than once sat in front of my laptop wondering just what it was I just said that has caused this FB Friend to call me a …… douche bag….. sleaze ball …… troll……racist. On one momentous occasion all I was doing was making a comment to those who would like to have our current NZ Prime Minister hung, drawn & quartered and had accused him in no uncertain language of personally financially ripping off the populace with the help and for the benefit of his rich prick mates. I pointed out that in fact he donates a fair amount of his financial remuneration for the job of PM to charity. This was not a sensible comment to make. Apparently I was, by this insensitive remark, also supporting those wealthy bastards who get up each morning with the sole aim of making daily life as difficult as possible for the rest of us. When I recovered from the initial amazement I foolishly tried to bring some gentle sanity into the discussion which as a result went from very bad to nuclear in less than two minutes. I was told in no uncertain terms by my crusading friend that my comments were most definitely not welcome in her particular corner of FB world. This was immediately echoed by a flurry of her followers though in more colourful language it has to be said. To be completely fair FB is not the only venue where this kind of prejudice and bigotry is to be experienced because it also pops up from time to time in local cafes should any support of right wing ideas be exhibited but never ever to the same horrifying extent. For example I have never received threats of violence from fellow caffeine addicts, just a general condescending rudeness for my inability to recognise facts when I am faced with them and for holding a different opinion to their own. What I do note though is that it is invariably those leaning to the Left who are inclined to issue vague threats and intimidation, almost never those on the Right. Those of us whose general philosophies lie somewhere to the right of Vlad The Impaler are mostly content to allow the Left to continue holding their views and dreaming their dreams without interference from the rest of us. More than a hundred years ago Evelyn Beatrice Hall said: `I do not agree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’. We all know that’s how opinion should work it’s just that in some corners of our lives and most particularly in FB world it doesn’t work like that at all!

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