A few days ago I experimented with my Facebook and Twitter feeds. This was about when the crisis in Baltimore was getting hot, and I could already see the signs. Unitarian Universalists — I’m thinking of ministers particularly, because that’s who I know mostly, but I see lay persons do this, too — would bring a particular intensity to, well, I can’t rightly call it a discussion.
It’s more like a frantic, often doctrinaire, echo chamber.
So I started muting people, leaving ministers who are close personal friends, old college mates, former co-workers and the like. Rather than falling into an insulated world of cat videos, the quality of discourse about Baltimore’s situation improved. Deep analysis and more varied voices, particularly from people who live or have lived there. (I do live an hour away by train, so this is also a regional story.)
What vanished was the anxiousness, the agita and the dubious logic of borrowed framing.
There’s a bad lesson in that. And I’m not sure I’m going to unmute the anxious presence. More importantly, who would seek it out?