Recently other more eminent gentlemen than I have written on how Catholics treat each other on line, this is a very pedestrian account of some recent events. I cannot begin to reach the eloquence of those who have written before me, so I won’t try.
This time last month saw a bit of a kerfuffle happening on social media. A threat had been made on a blog and it was believed I was responsible. I was blissfully unaware of all this as I was on holiday with everything but Facebook and my personal email account deactivated.
But then the emails started to come, I asked to be told no more and deactivated this also, checking in every other day on a hotel computer in case I missed some exciting news. Towards the end of the holiday I received an email telling me I had been exonerated, and a second from the man who’s blog had received the threat offering the hand of friendship.
To say we had not been friends before is an understatement and I was most grateful of his action. I have upset people in the past and offered apologies only to be ignored. I accepted, delighted to put any discord to rest although I am uneasy with my own view of those to whom I have apologised and heard nothing.
In the past two years or so I have made mistakes on Twitter and I have never been shy to admit it, I have also looked to correct my errors, in fact the very reason this blog exists is due to the need to correct a perceived misrepresentation on my part. In that time I have also made friends with people who have watched from the peripheries and offered me support. Some of these had made me aware of a group referred to as ‘The Other Place’ which had been started by a very small group of people to coordinate sockpuppet accounts that would post on a specific blog and defend orthodox Catholic positions from liberals and non Catholics. I had referred to knowing of this group in the past, I once asked on Twitter if one of their accounts, called Wylder Hall would be joining us, it appeared to go unnoticed.
My new friend made me aware of more recent activity in the group, I had been the focus of attention to someone with whom I believed I had made peace, I was told by she and one other in the spring of 2014 that they had nothing against me so please leave them alone. Although it was upsetting to see both these accounts make unkind comments about me from time to time. I have been encouraged by others in the past to take such comments further, I have even had offers of funding for legal action. My stock answer was I would need a year to see how i felt, knowing that the statute of limitations of defamation and libel is a year and a day. Such action would do nobody any good, least of all me or my patron. And the man who was man enough to offer me a hand of friendship is now among those whom I admire most in all the world, not for what he has done for me, but for what he has done at his own personal cost.
Another Twitter account which had been raised using the name of a blog contributor of 1 June 2013 which attacked just about everything I tweeted, was also discussed at this time. A name for the author of this account was put forward, whether this name is correct or not I have no interest but it’s a clear indication that such toxic accounts damage people other than those whom they target.
One or two others have been in touch privately offering a hand of peace after I had we had fallen out over my unwillingness to acquiesce to my detractors and pretend none of this was happening, I am delighted to have these friends back again.
“The Other Place” is more or less deserted, by choice or otherwise This will not see an end to the overzealous heresy hunting we witness but hopefully might see an end to the name calling (ie Strawman) and ad hom hashtags (ie #heterodox #epicfail) used by some of Twitter’s more excitable contributors.
At this time a quieting from a couple of the attacking anonymous accounts has also been observed. I believe this might be that they have been reminded, one subtlety on not so, that their true identity is known. This has seen a decrease in their bravado, if they want to throw off the sock and join us in reasoned debate it would be great, the rest of us are all getting on like chums now.
Gareth Thomas said:
Bonum est confidere in Dominum. I am not the only one who realized the game was up: false divisions among those who broadly agree on the essentials of faith serve the purpose of only one person. He is usually dressed in red and carries a fiery fork!