Sunday, March 22, 2020

Communicating - ramblings of an introvert

I am old fashioned. I prefer to speak to people face to face.

I remember one time, way back in 1980, when I was working in Vermont and wanted to talk with the principal of a Catholic school. I called her and asked to see her to talk. She proposed just the phone call. We eventually talked face to face.

Then came e-mail. This was almost perfect for an introvert. I could write what I was thinking and send it and then wait for a response. If it was something a little complicated, I could write a few paragraphs.

The problem – sometimes the temptation is to respond too quickly. A first response might be an emotional reaction, without taking time to reflect. I know some who lost friends over this.

Then came Facebook. But it was first for folks connected with a university. Fine. But then it was open for everyone.

This worked fine for many years. You could choose your friends and they could accept or reject you (without you really knowing, I think.)

But then the society – both in church and state – became polarized. And “memes” abounded, especially ones that caricatured your opponents. Then people responded to a FB post – without much reflection. And then someone reflected on what someone said in a comment that had nothing to do with the initial post. ANGER PREVAILED, with or without the use of capital letters.

Then there were the people who wrote on Facebook to pick a fight – not to begin a discussion. (I wonder if some of them were foreign agents – trying to provoke more division, in state and in church.) They’re still around – and sometimes I think they abound.

And then there’s WhatsApp. I resisted this for years, but I had to get on it for my ministry. I dislike WhatsApp. It seems to bring out the worst in some people who have to comment on everything. And sometime the comments lack basic charity. In the last few days I probably deleted over 150 messages.

In Facebook and WhatsApp I often see a real lack of looking for ways to discuss a topic, to try to figure something out with the help of others. It’s often more about winning and scoring my point of view.

I probably have offended a few people. Sorry, but try to see what I am trying to promote – an online culture where we really try to understand each other, where we avoid caricatures and categorizing people, where we really try to seek the truth – the TRUTH, not just my take on truth. I’ll gladly hear your take on truth, in the hopes that we can really have a discussion, not a fight.

In the meantime, bring back e-mail.

Or you can always read my blogs:

Walk the Way:

A wall painting in the old meeting hall of the parish - now destroyed.
Don't ask me what it means. I don't know. 

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