A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Sharing" Political Opinions and Facebook Cooties

Anyone else sick of reading other people’s political opinions on Facebook?  Do people who post such things think all of their friends agree with them?  When they post snide comments about those who disagree, do they intend to insult their “friends”? I suppose people likely aren’t thinking things through that much.  They are just speaking their minds.  Some folks don’t care what other people think and some are accustomed to being able to say what they want because their opinions coincide with the majority of people where they live.  The latter reminds me of high school: the cool people can say whatever stupid thing they want and it is still cool.  Those on the outside have to be more careful.  

It is rarely fun to listen to an opposing point of view but I can handle it if there is a sensible argument given or some attempt at sharing information which might change another’s mind.  But often even when there is some attempt at a cohesive argument it is accompanied by an insulting commentary on those who think differently.  This is the internet version of a noogie or perhaps a wedgie.  

There are some great things about Facebook but there are times the interactions seem a bit juvenile.  Yet I am not sure how much more mature I am.  The post which sent me over the top and caused me to start removing people from my newsfeed was a very pathetic attempt at humor.  I think I was more offended by the lame joke than by the content for which it stood.  Deficiency in the sense of humor department is apparently an unpardonable offense for me.  What does this say about me?  I am not sure.  Probably nothing good.  

I have been pondering other ways in which we communicate  as well.  Consider the sugary sweet “Christian” messages which get passed around ad nauseam.  The messages themselves are mildly annoying but then there are the little “guilt you into sharing this” schemes at the bottom telling you you’re a bad Christian if you don’t pass the message on.  It is the Christian equivalent to “if you don’t pass on this note you’ll catch the cooties.”  Now we’re all the way back to elementary school.  Doesn’t do a lot to combat the idea that Christianity is anti-intellectual.  

Then I read something somewhere about a pastor telling people he worked for a non-profit rather than revealing he was a pastor.  He did not live in the bible belt and many people where he lived did not hold a high opinion of Christianity.  I do live in the bible belt and yet I thought this guy was brilliant.  After all he is not lying and how many awkward conversation did he avoid??!  Living in the bible belt, my motivations would be different than his.  I am tempted to dodge the pastor issue because of the assumptions people in this area often make about pastors or “Christians” in general.    People assume I am anti-homosexual, anti-abortion, and republican for starters.  People assume many things about my theology which are far from the truth.  Sometimes people assume my theology is such that I will hold a strong opinion about things like the rapture and the tribulation.  These things are barely on my radar at all.  And even if none of this happens, my admission I once was a pastor and still preach is often met with an awkward silence during which I can almost see the other person making a mental note not to cuss in front of me.  Talk about awkward and unnecessary. 

But I still don’t know about saying I used to work for a non-profit.  It seems like the next questions would be “what one?” and then I’d be stuck.  Instead I could start saying something like, “I got my degree in social work and have had several jobs loosely related to that field.  I did some marital counseling, some speaking engagements, things like that.”  Not a lie in there and the mention of social work sometimes causes people’s eyes to glaze over as they madly search for a new topic.  Then we would be back on the safe ground of sports or weather.  

It’s not that I don’t want to have conversation.  I long for meaningful conversation where people take the time to get to know each other and don't make assumptions.  I just don't enjoy the small talk, or facebook style throwing comments at each other in a drive-by sort of a way.  

I really sound crabby, don’t I?  I’m sorry.  I am just trying to be funny and maybe make a point too. ....Wait!  Don’t unfriend me...Oh no I can hear it now:

“Sheri’s got cooties!”

by Sheri Ellwood

No comments: