Monday, August 14, 2017

Natural Law, Social Media, And The OCSP

There's been some controversy lately in the general culture over how social-media giants like Google (which owns YouTube and Blogger), Facebook, and Twitter censor and otherwise manage content. Media of any sort, of course, is media, and it's subject to the preferences and judgment calls of whomever owns it, government, corporation, or whatever. YouTube commentators who are outside the Overton window of acceptable opinion have recently discovered they can be de-monetized or shut down completely, sometimes for innocuous remarks or irony that the censors missed. (An example of the problem is here -- language warning.)

Although I spent most of my career in the IT field, I've always been a slow adopter. I got a Facebook ID several years ago because I had to have one to sign onto something or other, but I never go there. I'm not on Twitter at all. I do this blog because, having observed the medium for nearly 20 years, I think it's an effective way to put out a focused message that's related to a single issue or set of issues. However, I don't put out personal information the way many social media users do.

This relates to natural law and the philosophical virtues. It is simply imprudent do do things like announce vacation plans or destinations, post photos of minor children, especially in stages of undress, or broadcast daily routines when you just don't know who will see this and what use they will make if it. If I were not retired, I would not be blogging at all -- people can get to employers and find ways to get you fired. Indeed, I'm certain that people connected with the St Mary's dissident faction would have done exactly this if they could have. In any case, we have an alarm system and keep our cars in the garage with the door shut.

Rush Limbaugh frequently mentions studies showing that people get depressed when they go on social media like Facebook, because people tend to idealize their lives and put out an image of happiness, popularity, and success, when the people who visit those pages realize their own lives aren't like that and figure they've missed out on something. This is probably related to temperance and avoiding pride. In fact, I would almost think that going on the lookit-me type of social media could be a near occasion of sin, appealing to tendencies like pride and avarice.

YouTube commentators, including Catholics pushing the Overton envelope like Michael Voris, are beginning to realize they're giving hostages to big-time corporate culture, which is proving it can shut them down any time it's convenient to do so. That in turn says to me, while the parallel is inexact, that we may be dealing with something like a ouija board, there may be some fun in using it, but at the wrong time and in the wrong circumstance, it can be very dangerous. I'm very careful about my blogging, I don't get any money for advertising from this blog, and the issues I cover are going to go away fairly soon, so the hostage I surrender isn't too important. But I definitely need to maintain perspective and situational awareness.

So why do so many OCSP priests have Facebook pages? I don't visit them, but from what I'm told, they apparently reflect a very clergy-centered outlook, with the usual OCSP clerical mediocrities assiduously trying to show they're with the program and validating each other. It's hard to avoid thinking this is the lookit-me school of social media, pretty unhealthy in any case, but also just a little redolent of the ouija board. Who's been the biggest star of Anglo-Catholic social media, bar none? Fr Phillips, of course.

Just one more reason I would not go near any of these guys, especially for the sacraments -- valid and licit, sure, but why bother when there are so many better alternatives?