Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Giving up for Lent

A confession: I have a weakness for reading (and occasionally writing) letters to the editor of our local newspaper and of other publications I subscribe to. I love a good debate, but if someone can help me understand more of why I do this, I'd welcome your comments.

Recently, thanks to the availability of the online version of the Daily News-Record, I’ve all too often found myself spending time following long threads of readers’ comments on articles, editorials, opinion columns or letters on subjects of interest to me.

Sometimes there are over a hundred responses to a single piece, many of them straying far from the original point of the writer, and degenerating into a rancorous conversation among the respondents. Since most writers use screen names rather than their real identities, they tend all too often to become rude, disrespectful and unsubstantiated rantings. Of course there are also the occasional thoughtful entries (like my own!) that attempt to introduce some reason and civility to the discourse.

I’ve rationalized that spending some part of a day on this may be a small way to help build bridges of understanding among people prone to rejecting the views and motives of everyone who disagrees with them. But I’m realizing its hard to have any meaningful influence on people who, as just one example, refuse to believe that the current president is a native born American, in spite of the fact that even his potential presidential candidate rivals know better. Then there are the climate change deniers, the climate change defenders, members of the far right and the fringe left, evolutionists, creationists, homophobes and homophiles--the list of controversies generating more heat than light goes on and on.

At any rate, I’ve concluded I’m spending way too much time on such sites, and that I have more important things to do.

So I’ve decided to give up all dnronline reading and posting for now.

At least for Lent.
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