One Good Reason to Avoid Facebook and Blogging

Brought to you by Lydia McGrew of What's Wrong with The World:
The Internet, and especially the blogosphere, allows us to think of other people only in relation to ourselves and our own ideas. When someone is a commentator on your thread, you are tempted to think of him not as a person with a family and a life, with hobbies and feelings, but just in relation to your thread. That's it. What did he say about what I said? And something similar is true of someone who writes a blog post on which I comment. He has said something. I have something to say in response. That's it. If I don't like what he said, we argue about it. And that's all. The almost overwhelming temptation is to make the other person simply a foil for oneself. If he seems to have scored temporarily, one is tempted to try to think of ways to get around admitting to the fair tag--a temptation to intellectual dishonesty. If he says something that seems particularly stupid, one is tempted to think of him merely as an opportunity to exercise one's cleverness at his expense. Thus it comes about that one can move in a world full of people all of whom take on a shadowy, one-dimensional semi-existence in one's own mind as mirrors--positive or negative--of oneself.

Internet messages wait. So do e-mail messages. If someone knocks at your office door, yells "Mom!" or calls you on the phone, he's much harder to ignore. Paradoxically, this makes it tempting to take more time answering e-mail than talking to physically present people, who suddenly seem--as real people increasingly come to seem to Wentworth--annoyingly loud and importunate.

The Internet allows you to create your own persona and present yourself to others as you would like to be rather than as you really are. This point applies even to networking sites like Facebook which have the advantage over the blogosphere of giving a more human and personal face to the people involved. But I, myself, am still presenting myself at my best and through the filter of the computer. This creates the dangerous illusion that I am engaging in normal social contact and interaction but don't have to deal with those faults that I don't have to reveal on the Internet. If people think highly of me there, I get the idea that I must be just fine. The Internet (like Wentworth's flattering succubus) provides a terrible opportunity to feed one's vanity.
This is something I've thought but never been able to give eloquent expression to. I myself fall easily into this type of behavior, so I try to avoid it. I do not think facebook is evil per se, but like the television, I think it very easily facilitates a type of compulsive, self-obsessed behavior. And yes, I am aware of the irony that I am writing this on a relatively personal blog. Maybe this is a good reason to stop blogging altogether. My time would be better spent in prayer, or engaging with other live human beings. Maybe someday I'll learn this lesson.


Catherine! said...
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Catherine! said...

The Internet (like Wentworth's flattering succubus) provides a terrible opportunity to feed one's vanity.

Rather than just encouraging vanity, it also discourages genuine self-examination. Why confront our own faults when we can just create a new Me every 20 minutes? Self-gratification in place of self-sacrifice is the hallmark of this culture.

Catherine! said...

Interestingly enough.... http://www.zenit.org/article-27964?l=english