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The Internet Tempts Me to Be Annoying

There are a lot of questions that bug me and that I go back and forth on within my own mind.  Does God exist?  Does Heidegger’s Nazism invalidate his philosophy?  Should we re-make humanity using science into some cool post-human species?  Is secular culture nihilistic or does it contain enough oomph to support a vibrant spiritual life?

Since I started using the internet I signed up for discussion groups related to these topics: discussion groups on philosophy, religion, Judaism, Heidegger, and post-humanism for example.  Facebook would then deposit articles on these topics in my feed and I would respond.  This led to me having a lot of debates on these topics.  I enjoy debating and am pretty good at it, because my father would challenge anything I said around the dinner table, and I went on to do graduate work in philosophy.

These discussions while not entirely fruitless were not entirely fruitful either.  Very often my debating partners would have a strong unthought out prejudice for their point of view, and the limitations of internet discussion made it difficult to make headway.  They were like conversations I would have with people whom I actually knew but thinned out, deracinated, aimless and less helpful.  (On the plus side though I interacted with people from different demographics and social backgrounds and I have to believe that that’s a Good Thing.)

Recently though I found myself sending a message to somebody who had never bothered me in the hopes of getting into a discussion about the philosophy of religion.  I realized that the internet had tempted me to be annoying.  I would never in real life go knock on the door of somebody I barely knew and say “How do you know the Torah is an historical document?  Prove it.”  Yet I had done something similar with this acquaintance.  What the heck was the matter with me? (And I am tempted to use an even stronger word than “heck” but forego because this is a public post.)

As I always do in these situations I underwent a serious course of self-analysis coupled with certain private purificatory and expiatory practices.   After these practices (really a bunch of gussied-up cold baths if you must know)  It became obvious to me that rather than do the hard work of developing a systematic treatment of these issues that can integrate the warring parts of myself, I am fleeing into a meaningless interaction with strangers.

And what was worse I had violated one of my core values: Leave people alone.  Do Not Be Thou Deliberately Annoying.

I won’t do that again.

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4 thoughts on “The Internet Tempts Me to Be Annoying

  1. N.S. Palmer says:

    My prejudices:

    1. Yes.

    2. No; Heidegger’s philosophy invalidates his philosophy, though I can’t argue with his choice of paramours. (The first time someone explained Heidegger to me, I burst out laughing.)

    3. We already are, so it’s moot.

    4. Not necessarily, but in fact, at the moment.

    Being annoying is annoying, but it’s justified if there’s a good reason for it. Just stay away from the hemlock.

  2. Mikey says:

    How do you gussy up a cold bath? That sounds extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase “gussy up” before, but now I know it I can’t imagine it being applied to a cold bath. Even though it’s the only time I’ve ever seen it applied.

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