Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

To my new age friend who unfriended me

Dear New Age Friend,

I’ve just noticed that, next to all your comments, Facebook helpfully said we had ’18 mutual friends’, which means we’re no longer ‘friends’, which I guess means you’ve unfriended me. Boo.

Was it something I said? Was it that post where I showed how psychics use cold reading to guess things about people? Was it the one where I explained how ouija boards work? Oh, I know. It was the one where you said that we “create our own reality”, and I asked you if people who get terminal illnesses have somehow created their own reality.

Why did I comment? Well, let’s face it — I’m kind of annoying. If someone says something wrong on the Internet, I like to get in there and set things straight, like that ever works.

But there’s more. Deception pisses me off. I saw that you were getting tricked by phony psychics, buying “inspirational” books by screwy swamis, relying on astrology and numerology to guide your life. You’re getting cheated, and I hated to see that happen to you. I think I was hoping that if I gave good information, something would happen and you’d start thinking a little more critically. Guess not.

Our exchanges fell into a predictable pattern. You’d never address my comments directly, but instead you’d post some quote by Osho in new-age passive-aggressive style, like:

“The day you think you know, your death has happened – because now there will be no wonder and no joy and no surprise. Now you will live a dead life.”

Or you’d bristle at my ‘tone’, which is another way of ignoring someone’s argument.

Or else you’d say that it was wrong to talk sense and reason because I wasn’t “respecting” everyone’s points of view. It’s a funny thing about respect: People whose views are the most tenuous seem to demand most vociferously that those views be respected. What you didn’t seem to realise was that not all points of view deserve respect. Ideas deserve respect in proportion to the amount of evidence that supports them. As for me, I don’t want my views to be respected. Slash away! If they’re wrong, I’ll change them, and I’ll thank you for helping me.

You insisted that it was important to keep an open mind, and it is — when the facts aren’t available. When they are, it makes no sense to “keep an open mind” — that’s like choosing between information and ignorance. It’s true that we need to stay open to new facts, but you weren’t even open to the facts we have.

Admittedly, you played nicer than your friends. They’re the ones who put “science” in quotes. I’ve noticed that they got nastier the more money they appeared to be making off of new age woo. When science didn’t support their views, they acted as though all of science itself was wrong instead of them. They are really dishonest people, and you should have nothing to do with them.

Maybe I pushed you too hard. I wasn’t relentless, and I didn’t comment on everything you posted, but I did try to give good information. I’m an educator — that’s what I do. When I thought you were credulous, I tried to be grounded. When you spread woo-woo, I suggested that there might be another explanation. I guess I intruded too much on your idea of a world where anything was possible, and where mysteries are supposed to stay mysterious.

3 Comments

  1. I love that feature of facebook. I couldn't even tell you the number of facebook friends I have (even though it is under 100) or begin to list them all and hope to find out why my number had dropped by one (if I noticed, which I wouldn't).

    I have noticed twice recently, that ex-friends appeared in the friend suggestions box (obviously unfriending me after I said something objectionable) but I ignored it. If you are offended, it's probably for the best. I am tending to get more 'offensive' as time goes on.

    Then mysteriously these people showed up again, either out of friendship or curiosity. Without me saying a single word. I haven't mentioned it to them, and I have been careful NOT to censor myself because of their presence. Maybe they will accidentally learn something while they are stalking me…

  2. The same things happen to me. It is a burden those of us who wish to help others escape their delusions must bear unfortunately.

  3. I've been in this same position several times. Thank you for expressing so well how some of us feel about not wanting to let bad ideas float around unchallenged, even if that annoys people. Shared on Facebook! 🙂

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