Superficially, I have almost no reason to use it. I keep up with the people I want to keep up with through other means. It’s useful for being aware of social events. Also I’m not keen on how how, when they make changes to Facebook, your details might become available to people, to whom you don’t want those details available. However, the most important reason you won’t find me on Facebook is that I’m sick of the intolerance, bigotry, ridicule, and hypocrisy to be found there. It isn’t necessarily directed at me either; just at people that the writer doesn’t like.

This isn’t a problem caused by Facebook but it’s because of the people who use it. Humans. Us. When you friend a person on Facebook, you can see what other people write on their virtual wall. With this comparative anonymity – you aren’t their friend so you probably don’t know their details – people can indulge in an online equivalent of road rage; insulting people and groups that often they don’t know personally.

What simultaneously fascinates and nauseates me is that the people who show the most vitriol are middle class and educated. Perhaps that’s the problem: we’re brought up being told that this is true and we watch the same programs, and so we drink in the same values. So when we meet anyone who disagrees with those values, our hackles rise and we show what’s truly in our hearts.

The horrible part of this is that it’s the same people who claim that they’re tolerant and accepting. The problem is, their actions – words in this instance – show a different truth. This means that they believe they are tolerant but they are really just accepting what is socially acceptable. Following the crowd, that is.

Moreover, such people are tolerant of differences that have become socially acceptable – such as homosexual marriage – but they are intolerant of differences that aren’t thus acceptable. So they demonstrate that they are neither tolerant nor free thinking, but effectively conditioned by politically correct education and popular media. Such people may cite sapere aude (usually translated, “have the courage to use your own understanding”) to people they accuse of blindly following some authority, but their own homologous attitudes incline me reply, tu quoque (my paraphrase: ‘After you’).

On a tangent, I believe that when people defiantly told Hitler that they would never submit to his rule, he responded: ‘So what? I have your children.’ Do you think that there aren’t people seeking to change our attitudes, by determining the content of media programs – usually those targeting pre-teens and teenagers? Look at the content of long running TV programs. It’s become more complex with online programming, but the same idea has always operated. Give the people what they want, and slip in a story or plot we’d like them to think positively or negatively about.

I could talk for hours about this topic: not just the emotional affect, but the psychological bases of it. Another issue is how people blame their intolerance on the group of whom they’re intolerant. So for example, people are intolerant of Christians and say it’s because Christians are intolerant. But hold it: another person’s beliefs shouldn’t determine how you act towards them. If you claim to be tolerant, then tolerate all people, even if you disagree with their beliefs; otherwise you aren’t being true to your beliefs. It’s like a man who hits his wife, and then says, ‘It was your fault; you made me angry.’ What this means is that the man is so emotionally weak that other people can control his actions. Either that, or he thinks he is so important that other people have to treat him like gold but he can treat them like manure. So if you claim to be tolerant, be tolerant; don’t excuse your intolerance by blaming the other person.

I read a quote the other day that said, “If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon.” George Aiken, to whom this saying is attribute, is absolutely correct. Studies on human psychology have shown that we’ll discriminate based on eye colour or even only on a name, such as one group named Group 1, and the other named Group A. Check it out for yourself: use search parameters like ‘psychology of prejudice’.

This was enforced for me a couple of weeks ago, when a girl I know talked about how she was a ball of rage. The same girl some months earlier talked about how she thought some people’s beliefs didn’t deserve toleration. Then before that, she quoted a person who said something on the lines of, ‘The difficulty with being the change you want to see in the world is that internal change is so difficult.’ To me, it shows that hatred and intolerance is our reaction: it doesn’t mean that the object of hatred deserves it. It says more about us than about them.

All of this willingness to group and segregate shows that intolerance is an innate human action. Segregation or distinction doesn’t mean we have to hate the other person though. We can act with courtesy and respect to every person we meet, no matter how we feel about them or their beliefs personally.

This hypocrisy and hatred occurs everywhere of course, not just on Facebook. But that’s the reason you won’t find me on Facebook. There are enough channels through which people can air their hatred and intolerance without having to open myself up to one.

One final thought: did you know that 90% of religious hate crimes in Europe have been committed against – not by – Christians?

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