I spend too much time online.
Now that family follows me on FB, along with others who actually know me, I can no longer be quite as candid as I used to be - which was always too much.
If I say something about what I'm feeling, reflecting upon what that means to me - I get reactions I was never expecting nor looking for. If I mention heath concerns I get offers to help - which again, wasn't what I was looking for. Then I get post links - whatever you call being flagged in a post and I don't know how to respond, but if I don't, I'm afraid the other person will be offended. (This is not a complaint - I'm simply reflecting on how my experience online has changed.)
I scroll looking for something funny or distracting to post as a diversion, only to run out of stuff that interests me or even make me laugh. In the meantime I keep scrolling by people I follow or link to and sooner or later I see how mundane everything is - and sometimes downright insane. The crazy things people post - it dawned on me, that is how I must look to others online.
The negativity and cynicism - not to mention the gossip and disparagement of others, be it political or ecclesial really is toxic. It's contagious. I never understood that more clearly than when I engaged in discussions - commenting with personal anecdotes regarding a couple of contemplative religious foundations. In part I believed I was contributing positively as well a supporting some directives from the Vatican. Long story short, I saw my good intentions were no better than a former religious' intention in exposing the problems associated with the founder and foundation of a Carmelite group out west. I was so taken aback by the accuser's inclusion of anecdotes, videos and photos, from her former community, apparently using them to establish her credibility and provide evidence to support her report. I had to examine my own part in the brew and realized it was not good.
I went through my archives as well as posts on Church Militant and removed all my commentary - quite ashamed I had engaged myself so imprudently and without being asked to do so. I very much doubt my commentary made any difference and was simply anecdotal and personal opinion - yet my involvement amounted to gossip and meddling - something I've censured others for - especially in the case of the former nun in the interview. I so want to avoid doing things like that, from now on.
The past couple of days, others I follow online, whom conservatives call 'leftist-Catholics' have taken issue with the elections of a new President and Chairmen of the USCCB. I looked up some of the concerns they expressed, one or two statements made by the Bishop-elect seemed just fine to me. Yet other points the critics made - that the election was a clear message of rejection to Pope Francis, if true, is simply very discouraging.
I don't usually follow the 'politics' of the USCCB and I'm not a bishop-watcher. From the early days of my conversion until now, the bishops have always simply been on the periphery of my spiritual life. I've know a couple personally, did some painting for one or two, but that's about it. I've lived through Bernadine, Roach and others - and none of that threatened my faith or devotion. If the pendulum has swung the other way, I'll live through this as well. It's just sad that Catholics are so divided and that so many appear to reject the Holy Father - of course others before them have as well. So many lay-Catholics regard the Church as a political entity and seem to take sides in the same way they do in American politics. Taking sides and fighting and defending ones' cause to the point of detraction and calumny is a great evil. That certainly comes out in com-boxes across social media platforms.
I hope I can learn from my mistakes and the mistakes I discover in others - which only mirror my own - especially if I want to correct or report on them. Discretion and discernment must be my companion and teacher.