Monday, September 10, 2012

What Happens on Facebook Stays on Facebook

Before I leave the subject of religion for a while, I wanted to discuss this meme, which someone I know posted -- or should I say "shared"? -- on Facebook.  At first glance I liked it, as a generality, but after that I had some reservations, especially as something to be said, or shared, on Facebook.

Even offline, I've had a lot of disagreements with liberal Christians and some non-theists who don't think they should have to live in a world where other people will "share their faith" with them.  First, I often enjoy having others share their faith with me.  As Katha Pollitt wrote when the Southern Baptist Convention announced a plan to convert the Jews,
Ever since that project was announced last year, I've waited for the missionary to knock at my door with all the ardor of the spider for the fly: You'd be surprised how hard it is to get a real theological disputation going in these ecumenical times [Subject to Debate (Random House, 2001), 186].
I know, not everyone is like me.  But I often have to remind the devout that sharing a country with infidels is part of the price you pay for religious freedom, and I guess I also must remind my fellow infidels that the same is true for us.  Yet a good many atheists get all spitty about PDPs (Public Displays of Piety), as I noticed about those "God" billboards some years ago.  True, it's their right to complain about the billboards if they want, but it's also my right to point and giggle at them and say rude things.  Since I wrote that post, atheists have gotten into the act, sharing their unfaith on billboards and bus adverts.  But that's different, I suppose.

Facebook is a whole other thing.  It's not like some random stranger is walking up to you and asking if you have accepted Barack Obama as your Personal Savior.  What you see on your wall is from people you know, or at least have accepted as friends in the Facebook sense.  You have invited them to share their lives with you, and they have invited you to share yours with them.  If some of your friends are religious nuts, they will share their nuttery with you.  If you don't like it, you can defriend them or block their newsfeed.  One of my friends recently posted a meme (!) wishing he could block all, and only, the political stuff his friends were posting.  I commented that I agreed, but less about political stuff than about Cute Kitteh pictures, the inspirational memes, the bogus affirmations attributed falsely to famous historical figures, and the "99% won't have the guts to say proudly that they love Jesus" memes. The political ones at least give me an opportunity to vent at people who deserve it.  But then, so do the religious ones.

Living in a pluralistic society with freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion is not going to be peaceful.  I'd have thought my fellow atheists would realize that.  One more disappointing dose of reality for me.