And it came to pass the blogger known all over Catholicism for being rather unsavoury made an apology and admitted he is rather unsavoury.
Kudos to him, and all that.
Still, yours truly allows himself a couple of thoughts, related to the general problem of the endless bickering on the Internet.
If the BBC anchorman is a bitter bastard the public has reason to complain, because the bitter bastard uses the resources and TV frequencies paid (forcibly, of course) by all of us. The Internet, though, is different, and no one is forced to click Mark Shea’s blog, or has to pay a dime because he runs one. If one, therefore, wilfully clicks his site, he implicitly accepts all the bitterness, insults, and generally poisoned atmosphere and assorted rubbish that he will find.
The problem is, apparently, made worse by the strict connection between Shea on Twitter and Shea on his blog; a bit as if the blog were the petrol, and twitter the matches. Not a good combination, I am told. I’d say it’s rather frequent, though.
Secondly, I think the role of a blog should be the one of enraging souls and stirring them to assertive action, not to provide discussion themes for old ladies’ afternoon teas when the weather has been examined to everyone’s satisfaction. There’s enough sugar on the net to give the world diabetes, and nothing is more trite than calls to “harmony” and “understanding” when we live in times demanding anger and confrontation. Whilst I do not like the way Shea thinks, I never perceived his abrasiveness as a personal offence. Everyone is made his own way. Again, I can always choose not to click his site.
Thirdly and lastly, in my eyes much of the problem is caused by the “democratic” mentality of our time, with the related expectation that everyone has the right to say everything everywhere; again, a recipe for continuous bickering. If you add to this that many blog allow quarrelling in the comment section because of the huge amount of page views it generates – an important factor for commercially run Catholic sites, or simply for the ego of many a blogger – you understand how the net can be such a tavern.
Yours truly has chosen a different way, explained in short as follows:
1) This is not a place for debate. If you are an abortionist trying to persuade me that abortion is fine your comment will never appear, period. This is a place where sincere Catholics go to find ammunition, not ceaseless bickering with the usual suspects.
Life’s too short. You want to quarrel until 2am? Pick a forum.
2) Whilst this blog is (I hope) rather trenchant, I never abuse it for personal confrontations. If someone nerves me on Twitter I might use the issue for a blog post, but I have never started the crusade against the person saying “Mr such and such wrote I am an idiot, let me explain why he is a cretin”. Again, life’s too short, and when you click here your time should not be squandered for my own petty confrontations.
3) If you want a grittier Mundabor, you can follow me on Twitter, when I occasionally write my thoughts (the blog has precedence, and time’s a tyrant) and can be as brutal as the brutally concise medium requires. But again, it is a choice, and no one is obliged to follow me. Also, I avoid becoming addicted to Twitter, or mired in controversy. I block idiots like it’s going out of fashion. Life’s too short to waste it answering to idiots.
4) I never try to be popular, or liked. You can get rid of this blog instantly if you don’t like it, and I promise I will not be offended in the least, or call you “intolerant” or “insensitive”. At the same time, I do not feel any urge to apologise because you don’t like my blog, myself, or the values I try to protect.
I can therefore, semel in anno, have some sympathy for Shea on this one. He promised to improve, but it’s easier said than done. I prefer a bitter blogger I can click every now and then to a sugary one that is useless every day. My Catholic upbringing leads me to think people are accepted as they are or avoided as they are. It simplifies life a lot.
I for myself will decide every time whether I am in the mood for a dose of Shea. If I click his site, I won’t blame him if what I find it’s not of my liking. But I will always find him – even when he is wrong, which is very often – a preferable way to employ my time than the huge amount of Catholic blogs for the kindergarten available around.