Internet Discussions

I sometimes get annoyed by Internet discussions: people who think that the whole world revolves around their opinion, or who think that they’re so witty when they point out what was probably already on all of the readers’ minds, to begin with.  It’s not all comments that I dislike, though.  When people share their stories and are vulnerable, I tend to value those comments.

Nowadays, I usually read Internet discussions rather than participating in them.  Granted, I miss out on learning when I do not participate, when I do not ask questions or make points and see how people answer them.  At the same time, some discussions are just fruitless.  I was one time on a progressive political site, and I was talking about Pat Buchanan’s writings that criticize the decline of the American middle class.  A commenter was belittling me and did not believe that Pat Buchanan had such a concern or compassion for those struggling to get by.  That’s when I was thinking: You know, Pat Buchanan’s column is online.  One can buy his books on Amazon or check them out of the library.  Why, then, should I waste time trying to convince this jerk, when his mind is already made up?  If he’s interested, he can consult the resources that are out there.

Of course, people may be annoyed with me, too.  And there’s the question: Is my problem with Internet discussions, or is my problem that I simply don’t like people?  I’m not asking this as a way to search my heart, as if I will believe that I am a bad person if I arrive at the latter conclusion.  I just wonder.  The thing is, though, as I said, I do value reading people’s stories.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Internet Discussions

  1. Laura Droege says:

    No, I don’t think your problem is that you don’t like people, especially if you value reading other people’s stories. I’m the same way. I think the problem is how many people approach internet discussions. Many aren’t interested in discussion, only in arguments (the more hostile, the better). Of course, this problem exists off the net as well; most people aren’t interested in hearing both sides of a story, being persuaded, or researching the topic being discussed.

    We just don’t necessarily see this because we tend to hang out with people like us, who share similar opinions, religious convictions, backgrounds, or levels of open-mindedness/tolerance for differences of opinions. (If a group of people is diverse in opinions and yet can get along reasonably well, they probably have high levels of open-mindedness and tolerance. Just my observation.)

    On the internet, though, all sorts of people converge on various sites, and they aren’t all open-minded or reasonable about hearing others’ opinions. Add the anonymous aspect of the net, where we forget the other people are actually people! So internet discussions lend themselves to being ugly, and you’re not alone in disliking this.

    Anyway, long comment…long-winded thoughts of mine.

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  2. I, like you James, read other’s discussions and never participate, if I participate it is only because someone took the time and commented on something I wrote. I have noticed that there is quite a bit of anger in many of those discussions and I don’t want to be exposed to anger.

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