"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:3.
My blog sidebar announces mine is "[a]n eclectic blog about everything." Recently, however, I am coming to the realization that in blogging or commenting about everything, I will ultimately say very little worth remembering. I have been a "Jack of all trades, and a master of none." I have decided it's time for a change.
Originally, my goal was simply to construct a website designed to promote my novel, In the Palace of the Great King, along with Catholic religious life. As time went on, and the divisions in the Church deepened and crises and scandals erupted, it became more and more difficult for me to separate the diverse threads of trad versus conservative versus liberal communities of nuns. Moreover, as a layperson I felt inadequate to the task. To make matters worse, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland, whose fabulous monastery and admirable charism of adoration served as the inspiration for many of my novel's scenes, seemed not to be interested in the finished product after I sent it to them for a final review in 2019. I still don't know the reason why.
As the months dragged on, I struggled to reorient the website, the book, and the blog. A page I had dedicated to the nuns had to be taken down, and all references to them in the novel had to be changed. While I worked on the novel, I started doing a few blog posts here and there because I knew as an author it would be expected. At the same time and for the same reason, I became more active on Facebook. As as introvert, it was hard for me to be in the "public eye," but I felt I had to. So I plodded along.
After years of tinkering, I finally got the hang of the Weebly software and began to enjoy the process of creating blog posts. I added a webpage for my photo book, Wild Grace, which was published in November 2020. It felt great to finally have something in print! And I kept submitting my novel to Catholic publishers and asking friends for their input.
But the past twelve months have been beyond challenging for all of us, and the tensions many feel over the pandemic, the election, and the widening gulf between liberals and conservatives in this country have turned the formerly lighthearted Facebook into a mud-smearing, name-calling battleground over everything from the outrageous censoring of Dr. Seuss books in March to guilting people who choose not to wear facemasks. Trump-bashing has given way to Biden-bashing. Conservatives like me are freaking out over the Democrats' headlong rush over the cliff of promoting transgenderism even among the young, abortion on demand, immigration on demand, and now gun control. The memes are relentlessly cynical and sarcastic.
Day after day, I go to Facebook seeking a few minutes of entertainment and to see what's going on with my friends and former schoolmates. There are still some good things there, but the feel-good things are getting drowned out in a tidal wave of negativity. I see so much that makes me righteously indignant, and even outraged. But as a peace-loving introvert, I am afraid to speak up too loudly for fear of alienating my friends or getting into endless comment-box debates. I end up with all this bottled up anger, and it's starting to affect me emotionally. I feel like a coward. I feel completely at the mercy of Big Tech, Big Government, and Big Lies. And there really isn't much I can do about it, except pray.
It doesn't help that the negative memes are randomly interspersed with everything and anything else one of my chosen friends (chosen by Facebook--FB users know what I mean by this) may happen to post, whether it be pictures of flowers, sunsets, babies, weddings, prayers, new cars, old jokes, or disgusting food. All this is getting mixed up in our brains, and I have a very strong sense as I madly scroll at lightning speed trying to avert my eyes from anything disturbing that this is really, really bad for us.
Facebook isn't the only place where things are getting ugly. More about that next week.
For now, I am going to reduce, not eliminate, but greatly reduce my time on Facebook. My blog is going to take a decidedly more peaceful turn. I choose to write lighted candles of blessing rather than endlessly post pithy memes about the rabid, fearsome darkness. I hope you will join me.
So I've been thinking a lot about how to disengage from MAGA -- not the acronym of our beleagured former leader's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," but the initials of that four-headed hydra of high tech: Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon, plus FT for Facebook and Twitter. Thankfully, I never got into tweeting, so that one at least I don't have to worry about. The rest, sadly, I am firmly attached and addicted to. They planned it like that, of course.
Apparently, I'm not the only one coming to realize the seriousness of this addiction. Going to my Google search (what other kind is there?) and typing in the words "alternatives to..." and guess what popped up? The most popular searches using this phrase are the MAGA-FT's.
They're all in cahoots with each other, making it even more difficult to disentangle ourselves. Even Weebly, the website hosting company I use (now owned by Square), gives me the option to log in using Google or Facebook. Why, I wonder, do they want to do this? What advantage do they gain from having access to my blog posts and other items on my website? Is it really any of their damned business? Apparently they believe it is. And how easy it is for us to just click once on a "Log in with Google" button rather than take the extra ten seconds to type in our log-in. We are the personification of sloth. Make it easy for us, and we'll do whatever you want.
I started using Firefox instead of Microsoft Explorer years ago, but that too was for the sake of convenience. Firefox is faster and less prone to bugs, privacy-focused rather than obsessed with upselling and upgrading every couple of years. I also opened a ProtonMail account, but Gmail has seemingly limitless free (free!) storage and larger print that's easier to read, so I don't use ProtonMail as much as I had planned. Make it easy, make it free, and we're hooked.
Thus far, to find alternatives to YouTube and its gross ads and limiting algorithms, I've checked out LBRY.com and it's video site, Odysee. But LBRY supports the ACLU, which does nasty things like forcing towns to remove their Nativity scenes from public property and helping special interest groups destroy small businesses with Christian values, so I won't be joining up.
There is, of course, an immediate alternative to YouTube and Fakebook. It's called real life. It involves picking up the phone and calling people, or going to their houses and dropping in to say hello. Unfortunately, that won't work well for people like me who are introverted, have trouble making small talk, and who, consequently, like to hide behind the screen. But at least it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one facing this (alternate) identity crisis.
Our endless, one might say insatiable, need for information and entertainment has led us to this crisis of the computer age. I am not willing to give up my iPhone for the simple fact that I feel unable to return to using a paper map to figure out where I'm going. I resisited buying one for years but now that I have, there's no turning back, at least in that sphere of influence. The rest I will tackle one at a time.
Imagine what would happen if all the hours we spent staring intently at our phones and tablets were instead directed towards acts of charity and prayer, good works and good words? When we stand before Christ, will our first impulse be to hit "record"? To gaze at Him through the screens of our smart phones and upload it to Facebook Live?
When I was a child, I remember having a recurring dream. I must have seen or heard something scary on t.v., something terrifying, because in my dream, I would rush to the t.v. and turn it off. I tried to make the scary thing go away. But somehow it came back on again, all by itself. I was powerless against it.
Take back your life from MAGA-FT. Do it now, before it's too late, if it isn't already. Because your life is worth more than watching videos, retweeting tweets, and posting memes. Jesus expects much more of us than that. We are capable, individually and as a nation, of infinitely more than that. And as long as we spend the majority of our free time engaged in these pointless amusements, provided free of charge thanks to the multi-billionaire-owned mega-corporations that invented them, we are slaves to their technologies and pawns in their grand designs. They are so insanely powerful that they could block a sitting president of the United States from using their platforms because they didn't like his policies or his personality.
When Trump supporters blocked from You Tube turned to Parler to engage in political discourse, some of whom were later found to be associated with the Capitol riots this month, Apple and Amazon shut them down. Companies should have the right to deny service (unless it's based on protected status such as race, gender, or disability). The problem is when the people who run all of our social media and communications and internet sales monopolies have a liberal agenda which they are hell-bent on pursuing, aka "The Reset." I'm sorry, but I'm not a computer, and I don't want or need your freaking reset.
What we really need is to consciously decide to disengage from their shiny, free, and easy traps and clutches. What we really need is to see we've been played, and to get mad as hell.
It won't be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Return to reality. I hope to see you there.
The opinions expressed on this website are my own personal views and do not necessarily represent those of the Catholic Church.
If I have erred in any statement, whether directly or by implication, in any matter pertaining to faith or morals, I humbly invite fraternal correction.