instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Law of the Internet Savage

Let me propose the following law: In Internet discourse,
Passion * Charity = Constant
That's an over-formalized way of saying that the more passionately someone writes about a subject, the less charitable their writing is toward those who disagree.

The reason, I suggest, is that passions are powers of the sensitive appetite, while charity is a virtue of the intellectual appetite. It's the job of the intellect to align the impulses of passion with the demands of charity, and when we write passionately we often simply give our passions free rein, letting them direct our will without reason getting in their way.

I say "we often" do this, but of course everyone doesn't always do this. What I call a "law" above isn't a law so much as a tendency. Since it's a tendency to let the passions override the reason, and letting the passions override the reason is to live more as a beast than as a man, I will name it the Tendency of the Internet Savage. At least I would, except nobody names anything "The Tendency of [X]." I will, therefore, name it the Law of the Internet Savage.

Christians have, of course, been given another law, to love God and neighbor.

The Law of Christ offers less of an immediate visceral payoff than the law of savagery. Which may be why we spend so little time discussing things from the right hand edge of the graph.