Oh, Those Prickly Sorority Sisters

winter palace

Oh, Those Prickly Sorority Sisters…..

This week I experienced the disdain of offended sorority sisters – for, I learned, once a sorority sister, always a sorority sister – and a criticism of an anonymous sorority house (and I do mean the actual house) was taken as defamation of members, one and all.

While putting off working on my book, I, naturally, went to Facebook. There I was confronted with a post from Southern Living detailing the interiors of some southern sorority houses. I admit, I did not read the article, so put off was I by the graphic, which featured one interior that would put St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace (above) to shame. Truly, all it needed was Carol Burnette descending the stairs wearing the velvet curtain (and rod) from her wondrous spoof of Gone with the Wind. And I also admit that I could not resist writing a rather snarky comment, containing, perhaps, the word superficiality.

I blithely went on avoiding the work of the day, and a few hours later, when, of course, I returned to Facebook, there were responses to my response. Go figure! There was an accumulation of “likes.” Who doesn’t appreciate that?  But many of the comments were blistering. I was called out as bitter, stupid, ignorant, liberal, and a Communist. One responder was sure that I lived in a pigsty and encouraged me to eat <expletive deleted>. None of these comments made me feel more affectionate toward sororities, though, yes, I do know about the “extensive” charity work they do. And, truly, my snark was not about the women who choose to belong to these groups (indeed, “some of my best friends,” including one to whom I gave birth, were in sororities) but about the lavishness of the houses they choose to live in.

Needless to say, these responses seemed more than a bit defensive to me, while, unquestionably, I found those judgements supporting my view to be logical, well-reasoned, wise, and in the best of taste.

And so I went to thinking about Facebook, about how we can inflame and be inflamed by comments of strangers that run the gamut from off-the-cuff, to snarky, to mean-spirited and vitriolic. And how one person’s snark can be another’s body blow, since we all bring our filters and our demons to the page.

Well, yet another lesson learned. But I still think I’m right about that lavish staircase.