The debate over the Cordoba House has apparently become my big hot button issue, to the point where I have twice violated my policy against getting in to Facebook-related arguments over random shit. Here’s the new one.
A friend of mine posted a link to this article in the New Yorker. It’s yet another one of those think pieces that points out that the arguments against the Cordoba House are shrill, bigoted, and ignorant and advanced by people who are shrill, bigoted, and ignorant. It also helps to point out the divide in this country: there is an intellectual elite that is apparently “out of touch” with “real America.” Unfortunately “real America” is a self-defined collection of reflexively ignorant morons.
Anyway, it turns out that my friend has a friend who is a reflexively ignorant moron who popped in to say, basically, “That’s interesting, but I don't [EDIT: oops, missed that word] see the author’s viewpoint.”
This hit my hot button. I basically asked what it was about the author’s viewpoint that was flawed, seeing as how he pointed out that it’s a bunch of ignorant demagogues pushing a narrative that there’s going to be a giant mosque planted on Ground Zero when the reality is nothing of the sort.
There was also a humorous interlude when someone asked the friend of a friend if she’d actually read the article. A response was up for about two minutes that snapped, “Did you read the article?” It was deleted, I’d assume at the moment the friend of a friend realized she was posing that question to the author of the article in question.
Anyway, I then got the old, “Well I guess we just have to agree to disagree.” This statement annoys me. I articulated my annoyance by basically saying this:
We can’t agree to disagree, as you haven’t actually managed to articulate a position with which I can disagree. All you’ve said is that you don’t like the idea of the Ground Zero Mosque, which is actually none of those things.
For the record, I’m going to use that first thought again.
My friend then popped in and told me to be nice. This got me thinking about all the clucking over “tone” whenever the New Atheists dare to hold an opinion on things. So I asked about it, basically saying this:
Why is it that being perceived as “not nice” is apparently so much worse than being perceived as an ignorant bigot?
These were, in all actuality, rhetorical questions. I mean, they may or may not have received answers, but I’ll never know, since I dropped a friend and went to bed. Quite frankly, I don’t give a shit.
Still, I think it’s a question worth asking over and over and over again.
Why is it that being perceived as an ignorant bigot is apparently a more desirable trait than being not nice?
Better known as the (not) Ground Zero (not) Mosque…
This, by the way, illustrates one of the things I absolutely hate about Facebook. It’s what I like to think of as the “Two Degrees of Separation” principle. You’re always within two degrees of seeing something massively stupid on Facebook. Either you find out that your friends have moronic stances on things, or you find that their friends have them. Hence my anti-Facebook arguments policy.
There’s also the minor problem that the vast majority of people you’re friends with on Facebook aren’t people you usually talk to. So that random person you haven’t laid eyes on in, like, five years can continue to annoy you by proxy or they might have a random acquaintance who annoys you due to the Two Degrees of Separation. It’s a pain in the ass.
It’s also why I have one less Facebook friend as of tonight. The mathematics are simple: I don’t think less of the friend in question. However, I haven’t talked to said friend outside of this interaction more than, like, twice in the last three years. I honestly don’t care if I ever see this friend again and her Facebook status updates don’t exactly make my life better. So why bother keeping track of this person? And can I honestly call her my friend?
And if she doesn’t want to keep track of me, well, I can’t say that I give a shit about that, either. Would I have known the difference if she had de-friended me? Probably not. I’m actually somewhat lost on the point of Facebook, really. I’m reasonably certain that I could drop down from my current collection of over 200 “friends” to around 60 and it wouldn’t actually change a thing. Except that the people left would be the ones I genuinely want to keep track of.
Actually, seven. I figured I’d clean house while I was thinking about it. I probably would have dropped several more, but I found myself discouraged from my task by the fact that Facebook has made it much harder to de-friend people. Which is a really bizarre thing to lament, now that I think about it. So I basically dropped the people who I'd really rather never see again in real life and a couple of people who I apparently went to high school with but who I barely remember and who keep inviting their entire Friends list to events I wouldn't go to even if I didn't live a thousand miles away from Chicago.
Thus begins my Facebook rant. It goes like this:
I have a policy when I'm cleaning my apartment. If I pick something up that I haven't seen in a month three, look at it, and can't imagine wanting to see it again in three months I throw it out. This goes for anything that lacks intrinsic or sentimental value (I will throw away some random trinket. I will not throw away my signed vinyl pressing of Scott Lucas & the Married Men's George Lassos the Moon. I also do not tend to get rid of books or CDs). This was an exceedingly easy decision tree to work through before my last move. If I looked at something and said, "I can't imagine taking this to Texas with me," it did not go to Texas. Friendships are like this. We stop talking to people for a reason.
I left the church I grew up in with absolutely no intention of going back. Yet I'm still connected to that church because I'm Facebook friends with a lot of people who I went to church with. I'd like to keep a connection with a few of them, but that sub-set of people I knew from church and still want to talk to is significantly smaller than the full set of people I knew.
For these purposes I can divid my Facebook friends list in to five buckets.
Bucket 1: People I like and want to keep an active relationship with.
Bucket 2: People I like but just want to be able to contact if need be.
Bucket 3: People I don't care about, but once did.
Bucket 4: People I barely remember and can't fathom why I am "friends" with them.
Bucket 5: People I have come to actively dislike for one reason or another.
At a rough estimate, approximately half of the people on my Facebook friends list fall in to Buckets 3-5. This wouldn't be that big of a deal if Facebook were just a contacts list. But it's not. It's a social networking site. That means that you find yourself either actively or passively networking with people you aren't actually friends with and then you find yourself networking with their friends.
The big question is, "Why bother?"
Facebook is basically a daily high school reunion. My ten-year reunion rolled around last fall and I didn't go. I had other things to do that particular weekend, specifically dogsitting a hyperactive schnauzer and the Illinois Storytelling Festival. However, even if I hadn't had those other more important, time consuming things to deal with I would not have gone to my ten-year reunion.
Why? I didn't like most of the people who I went to high school with and have forgotten a lot of the rest. The ones that I did like I can still get ahold of.
I'd also hazard a guess that I wasn't missed. I was a fat, poorly socialized nerd. Most of the people I went to high school with probably don't remember me and probably didn't miss me at the reunion.
If I can't be bothered to go to my high school reunion, why would I want to see Facebook status updates from the people I'd see there? More importantly, in what universe would I consider the people there my friends?