Mamerto Adan is a feature writer who is back in college once again. Science is one of his favorite topics.
The birds of the same feather sayings will always be true, even when going online. It’s in our nature. I mean when joining social media like Facebook, we loved to seek our own kinds. Simply each one of us will join at least one group. There is nothing better than flocking together with guys (and girls) with thinking like us, to discuss our likes and share ideas. Frankly I have a number of Facebook groups ranging from knife collectors, gunpla lovers to martial arts practitioners.
But things don’t always go right in most groups.
Though the idea of having groups is to bond with people with similar interest, the existence of neckbeards and other internet low lives could ruin the whole group experience. Once a neckbeard infests a group, expect a lot of worthless arguments and posts, though kudos to some of the toughest moderators for kicking them out (the knife and EDC groups are the best moderated groups).
And one time I decided to join a religious discussion page, as being a Catholic I’m striving to befriend people of other faiths. We already had done that in real life. My circle of friends back in college was mixed faiths. We have Muslims, Evangelicals, Baptists, everything. And we get along quite well. And maybe I could gain enlightenment by listening to interfaith discussions online.
The problem is that’s not always the case.
I did found well moderated groups with people matured enough to listen at each other, but some are as vile as 4chan. In fact you could get more decent discussions with a knife wielding guy in an EDC group than a self-proclaimed religious or philosophy expert in a religious group. And as I stayed longer, I realized that there are actually different types of people in an interfaith discussion group. If you want to know more, just read below.
Special Mention; My Experiences With Some Interfaith Discussion Group is Like Hell
Again I join religious groups to befriend people of other faiths, and to learn from them. I did found decent interfaith groups but few are virtual cesspool. In my very first day an angry atheist trolled me for being a theist. Anti-Catholic bigotry is also rampant among fundamentalist Christians. And I kind of pity this Muslim guy who got mobbed just because he is Muslim.
As you can see simple discussion often spirals into uncontrolled trolling, though some interfaith groups has strong moderators to cull the undesirables.
I will be doing separate articles on nasty religious groups and why they ended like that, but first let’s explore the many colourful personalities I found in an interfaith forum.
1. The Open Minded
They are the gem in any discussion forum! These guys are matured enough to listen and discuss whatever faith you hold. They could be of any beliefs, from Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims and even atheists. They create healthy debate (or discussion) environment and their main aim is to explain rather than to force their beliefs into you. Mostly these guys are older people, usually professionals and some even holds a degree in theology. I even met one who is a Catholic seminarian.
These guys don’t like to debate, and are more open to friendly discussions. But most of the time they lurk silently in a group to read the posts. Their main aim is to learn and not to talk. They like explore what other faiths hold and that’s it. These silent majorities are friendly and polite, though some could get pretty nasty when trolled.
3. The Spectator
We get these people all the time. They are not exactly a bad thing to have and they could be fun to talk with. They chose to remain silent like the listeners and the learners. But their favourite hangout is the comment sections where they will just watch the unfolding debate. You heard it right; they are just here to watch people argue. I admit though that watching two ill-tempered people is eerily entertaining. Sometimes these people will join in to stoke the flame, as what happened in real life brawls.
4. Bandwagon Jumper
Not much to say but they just joined the group because it is cool. Again it’s not exactly a bad thing especially if no harm is done. These people, though they are basically inactive, don’t go toxic or join fights are they are clueless on what’s happening. They rarely post stuff or join discussions, and they basically forget that they are a member.
We are now going into the toxic zone. Christ repeatedly warned us about people claiming to be religious but arseholes in real life. On the bright side their existence debunks the notion that religion causes violence as bigots exists in all beliefs. We already know that they are a race of hate. When they are Christians they will tell you that you will go to hell for not being one of them. If they are atheists, they will tell a theist that they are insane. And I know that giving those bigots a good kick is your life’s aspirations. And yes, these people are what you should avoid if you want a healthy discussion.
6. The Fundamentalists
Though it was always identified with theists, extremism also exists in every faith. Basically they chose to follow the extreme interpretation of their doctrines, which could have toxic effects. They see themselves as experts or pure, much like the bigots and yes, do avoid these undesirables when looking for a chat. A good example is the Westborough Baptist Church follower.
7. Neckbeards/Internet Atheist
This one deserves a category of its own. Though we could classify them as angry bigots or fundamentalist, the fact that they are basically unkept antisocial kids with poor understanding means they are different breeds. There is a good reason why they are called pseudointellectuals. They claim to be gods among men, but they rarely understand what they are saying. Usually they will start dumb argument and ends up personally attacking their hapless victims. These guys are known racist, misogynists and bullies. This might explain why they are loathed even by fellow atheists.
Ever seen an unrelated post about job hiring, products sales or networking schemes? Those are the handiwork of internet spammers. We all know how annoying it is to see this post that doesn’t relate to any religious discussion, and we are not interested with what one is selling! Good thing though that thanks mostly to Facebook anti-spam bots, they are pretty easy to regulate. And even if it escapes Facebook’s purges, any moderator won’t be stupid enough to let the trashy post stay undeleted.
And now that we speak of unrelated posts, we hated when someone posts their selfies just to gain attention. And how about posting hateful stuffs just to provoke stupid arguments, or anything ridiculous to see how group members react. That’s how baiters operate. They will do anything to gain attention or to cause discord in the comment sections. I once saw someone show this link leading to a woo site, while the younger group members argue in the comment section. And please just ignore the arsehole or report him/her if you see one.
We get trolls in any group. Those low lives that lurk in the comment section to offend clueless members. These guys are as nasty as they are as cowardly. With fake accounts they will stalk the comment section and spat at their victims. Yes, it pays to ignore the trolls but heavy moderation is much better. In some cases there is this troll that reaped what he sowed when he got savaged by his own victim. But we could all agree that every trolls don’t deserve a space in any groups.
Each group have rules regarding offensive posts, but these guys are good at evading punishments. Simply they knew loopholes or have close ties with moderators and admins. Hence they got away with their hateful trash. I know a religious group where the moderators have more internet atheists than theists. And internet atheists there have knacks on using well written words to get through moderations. And the result is the vilest place in Facebook.
By the way, I could tell that their posts are vile despite being allowed by the admins, as Facebook removed those days later after someone reported them.
You beat someone in a debate, or an obsessive fellow is calling you out for a debate. Then days later your messengers are crawling with their threatening messages. Suddenly you found yourself being followed by faceless accounts, with their vile comments in your every post. These psychos are virtual cancers. You could either block them or report them, whatever suits you. Having a stalker is also a result of poor moderation, as the admins are not doing enough to get rid of bozos in the group.