All lies and jest,
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.
It’s often tempting, when so many people are wrong on the internet, to think that no one listens to counter-arguments or contrary views. Everyone seems to be trapped in epistemic closure, clinging to their tribal beliefs.
But then, despair often is tempting. And yet people do read and learn from posts they disagree with. Words do change minds. For instance, Louis Marinelli, who created and moderated a number of web properties for the National Organization for Marriage* and drove the bus in their 2010 “Summer for Marriage” tour, resigned from the organization this spring. Why?
Cathy, I’m lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping.
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike,
And they’ve all come to look for America.
It turns out that dealing with gay and lesbian protesters on the tour and corresponding with marriage equality advocates online made him see them as real people. Then looking at the tone of the NOM pages, which he describes as “hateful”, and doing a bit more thinking about the difference between civil and religious definitions of marriage finished his transformation from opponent to supporter. He has since issued a comprehensive apology and retraction, and now supports full civil marriage equality.
Nice to see. And good to find someone with the guts to apologize online. Lots of people on many sides of many issues could use to learn that one.
He looks around, around—
He sees angels in the architecture,
Spinning in infinity,
He says, Amen! and Hallelujah!
I was wondering what writing, precisely, persuaded Marinelli. I read the blog entry that turned his views around, expecting it to be pretty amazing. But it’s not. I mean, it’s clear and well set-out, but it doesn’t say anything that marriage equality advocates haven’t been saying for ages. The difference was that someone was ready to hear it.
He’s a one trick pony
He either fails or he succeeds
He gives his testimony
Then he relaxes in the weeds.
We never know, when we write online, who in our audience is at one of those tipping points. Nine out of ten passionate posts on important topics, or ninety-nine out of a hundred, might as well be writ on water. But all it takes is once; one time pays for all.
I’ve reason to believe
We all will be received in Graceland.
* See, Jim, there is a place for Wikipedia links.