The amount of anger and hatred on Social Media is a growing concern. Its seems that under cover of internet pseudonyms and often with a couple of glasses down their neck – normal mild mannered reasonable people can be turned into ranting nutters. There is a law called ‘Godwins Law‘ named after an American Lawyer called Mike Godwin which goes something like this ”As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” this is otherwise known as Reductio ad Hitlerum. It seems that at times the relative anonymity of the internet is not conducive to rational debate. A big news story in the UK is how the first paid ’Youth Police and Crime Commissioner’ career has ended before it began because of the hate filled comments she posted on Twitter.
As Pope Emeritus Benedict said ‘ Believers who bear witness to their most profound convictions greatly help prevent the web from becoming an instrument which depersonalizes people, attempts to manipulate them emotionally or allows those who are powerful to monopolize the opinions of others‘ (World CommunicationsDay 2011). It is sad therefore to see how the Catholic presence on the internet seems to be dominated by shrill, inward looking and judgmental voices. Many students have come to see me slightly bewildered by the attack made on Jesuits since Pope Francis’s election – sadly many of the most vicious attacks come from supposedly ‘orthodox’ voices. Pope Emeritus Benedict was aware of this when he warned of a ‘parallel’ magisterium being set up on the internet There also seems to be a correlation between the amount of posts per day some of these bloggers put up and how ‘detached’ from the real world they are. Simply put – if they could only spend more time meeting real people, then maybe they would become more compassionate, instead of being fixated on an distorted view of orthodoxy that they often use to hit their own bishops and the Pope with.
We need more moderate voices on the internet – otherwise those who shout the loudest – often from a cowardly or paranoid anonymity are over influencing the debate.
As today’s Gospel says
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.