Butthole with a Megaphone

Today on Titles no Self-Respecting Christian Writer would EVER Use

I was having a conversation with some friends of mine about social media, namely Facebook. They said that Facebook is the “front porch” of modern society. Back in the day, people would sit out on their front porch and talk about issues that concerned them, namely politics and religion, often very fiercely. We don’t do that anymore, but we do have social media to talk about our issues, which allows us to connect with more people than ever before. Thus, social media, especially Facebook, is the new “front porch.”

While I see my friend’s point, I have to respectfully disagree. Facebook isn’t a front porch for discussion.

It’s a butthole with a megaphone.

megaphone

The “front porch” is where you discuss things. When was the last time you actually saw a discussion on social media? The best you can expect is a hateful rant in the comments. That’s because social media is one-sided. You get on, say your piece, and then you log off. Unfortunately, this creates a very powerful one-sided mindset, one that says, “here’s what I think,” and then stops the conversation there.

I challenge you to challenge somebody’s viewpoint on Facebook or some other social media. Reply with something like “I disagree for x, y, and z.” Make it wholesome and healthy dialogue. Put as much love and kindness into it as you can…because you won’t get ANY back.

9 times out of 10, the people who post their opinions on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, whatever, don’t want a discussion. They want to state their opinions and log out. That’s what makes internet conversation so appealing in the first place: the shield of anonymity. You can say what you want because you never actually have to see the other person.

My wife and I have both been foolish enough to challenge someone’s opinion online. Not only were we shot-down as being “closed-minded” for disagreeing, but there was an appalled sense that we said anything at all! How dare we disagree with them! And how dare we verbalize that disagreement!

When we state our opinions on the internet, we want them to be instantly regarded as fact. No discussions, no back-talk, no challenges. Here it is, it’s out there, now everybody step away. Like I said, part of it is simply the mechanics of log in, post, log out.

Now, I will admit that in real life as well as online, there are many times that we just want to make a comment or an observation without a debate. For example, I was in Guatemala and I saw a cop just standing there with a mean-looking shotgun. I said, “Wow, that’s a mean-looking shotgun!” I didn’t want a debate on gun control or firepower for cops. I just wanted to point out how mean-looking that shotgun was!

But you have to realize that when you put an opinion on the internet…you’re putting it on the internet! You think nobody’s going to disagree, much less reply to what you say? It’s the INTERNET! It was DESIGNED for hateful backlash!

If you’re not willing to have the discussion, keep it off the internet. Otherwise you’re just a butthole with a megaphone.

All images: Google
All images: Google

But then, there’s the other side of the coin: Mister Agenda. The guy who views everything as a platform for his issues of interest.

YOU: The sky is blue.

MR. AGENDA: Not for long with all the chemicals that dirty fuels put into the air!

YOU: Oh, look at the pretty rainbow!

MR. AGENDA: Yeah, those gays are ruining everything, aren’t they?

YOU: That cop has a mean-looking shotgun!

MR. AGENDA: Guns kill 110% of Americans every year!

Mr. Agenda comments on everything, trying to wrangle his points into any conversation whether they belong or not. And no matter how you try to end the conversation, he has one more way to one-up you. Why? Because you were never supposed to reply to his factual opinion. He wants to log in, post, log out. He doesn’t want a discussion, he wants to hear his own voice.

A butthole with a megaphone.

And I wish we could have discussions. We’d get a lot more done. But everybody wants to be that guy at the rap-off, who spins a marvelous lyric that leaves the other guy speechless. We want to drop the mic and walk away.

But when we do that, we neglect the other person. That’s why I resolved never to argue with somebody online if it were up to me. That’s why you won’t see me replying back to a lot of angry comments I get on my blog. The internet is a horrible place for argument because the other person isn’t there, and we don’t have to think about them.

Let’s have out debates in person. It forces us to grow up and take disagreements in stride, to consider the other person’s feelings and opinions, as well as the issues we so vehemently defend. Social media takes away any other voice so all you have to hear is yourself. That’s not a discussion. You don’t want to talk about the issues. You just want to show how much smarter you are. As much as I love social media, that’s what it does. It’s not a front porch where people discuss their differences like adults.

It’s a butthole with a megaphone, desperate to be heard.

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8 thoughts on “Butthole with a Megaphone

  1. Wow, did you ever nail this one. I grew up listening to those front porch conversations my parents and grandparents were having (in the 50’s and 60’s) and they were nothing like what you see on social media. A discussion requires a certain level of respect to exist between the two parties, a pre-requisite of which is a certain level of maturity. I like your piece here. It’s right on.

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  2. I agree with Mr. Roberts, the key is to have respect between the two parties. That’s very hard to do over the impersonal medium of the Internet. Rather than approach it as the front porch of the computer age, better to approach the Internet as the editorial pages of the new age. Once upon a time, the editorial pages were forums for discussing all levels of public life, but the people who wrote to them were well aware that they were throwing their hat into a much larger ring than their general acquaintance, and certain courtesies were expected. Courtesy is almost entirely gone from modern culture, and it’s death may be as much the problem for the bad behavior we see on the Internet as the medium itself…

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    1. Yeah, the internet can be an amazing, unrivaled tool, but it can also perpetuate and already-existing problem: the age of Self. When Self is checked, Social Media is used in amazing ways. When it’s not, you get duck-face pictures and passive-aggressive tweets.

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  3. Another great blog post, brother. If you haven’t already, you should check out G.K. Chesterton. You remind me of him, and he is one of my favorite authors.

    Two thoughts: I know they are not identical, but wouldn’t you say many of the derogatory elements of FB would apply to blogging as well? Both are a public expression of your private thoughts. Both are using the internet and its shield of anonymity. Both have followers/friends. Both are “one-sided” communication, especially when your post goes seemingly unnoticed. People can and do sometimes comment in an unfriendly manner to either a blog or FB post.

    The other thought was that the best conversations are without a doubt face-to-face. You get not just the content, but the facial expression, tone of voice, and emphasis of words that can not be recreated by any blogger or FB user. While I would consider social media the 4th or 5th best way of communication, if it is the closest thing you can get to human contact (even if you would prefer “the real thing”) on any given day, isn’t it sometimes better than feeling isolated?

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    1. Yeah, blogging can be very similar. A while back, I got a very angry comment on one of my posts, basically spitting in the face of my faith. But I knew better than to reply; the comment did not invite discussion, and they certainly weren’t up for a debate. You soon learn how to tell if people actually want to debate or just rail. Yes, human contact is the very best form. It forces a certain respect for people, more so than the internet, at least, and you get the entirety of the conversation. There’s nothing like it, but I think we could all teach our kids social grace online, in text, and on the phone. It’s a step forward, at least.

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  4. “I knew better than to reply; the comment did not invite discussion, and they certainly weren’t up for a debate.” ~ I agree. Don’t waste your precious time if your gut feeling is that the other person is a troublemaker and not a truth-seeker.

    “I think we could all teach our kids social grace online, in text, and on the phone. It’s a step forward, at least.” ~ Again, right on point. What our culture is lacking is civility, and civility is in many ways passed down from parents to children.

    You are a shining example of how to attract rather than repel through social media. Thank you for boldness in embracing the controversies that come along with His Truth. but not forgetting to respond with His Grace. 🙂

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