So I returned to Facebook recently and I returned with a new attitude. I was going to ignore the nastiness and pettiness, I was going to ignore all the derogatory and smart ass comments, I was going to ignore all those opposing opinions, I was going to ignore all the “God loves you” memes, I was going to ignore all the Political garbage, I was going to overlook the MILLIONS of game requests and I wasn’t going to get involved in any bickering. I was simply going to have fun, share my thoughts, let people know what was happening in my life and just enjoy the application in general and they could respond however they liked.
About 6 years ago I was sitting with some friends in their living room talking about the fact that there really were no gay interests locally. We were far enough in the suburbs that there were no organizations and the closest gay bars were about a 40 minute drive away. As our conversation progressed we decided to form a social group for local gay people and our supporters. Facebook was around then but not as widely used as it is now so it really wasn’t an integral part of the formation of our social group. Now this posting is not about the group but leads to the utilization and importance of Facebook as it became more prevalent in operating our group and in turn led to an exchange of nastiness, even though we were all friends and acquaintances we allowed the anonymity and distances we felt to because of this keyboard and monitor buffer to forget that we were conversing with real people with real feelings.
Facebook is actually a wonderful tool to use when running a social group. It helps members interact and it is wonderful for arranging get-togethers and parties through its events option. But it also allows these members to be downright mean. Posting everything from personal attack to sexual advertisements. I actually had to delete one member that posted a request for members to freeze their semen for him. I explained that he had obviously mistaken this social group for a sex group and that we would not tolerate such interactions.
I ended up running the group for nearly 5 years and during most of the time over this half decade I did it myself. There were times when others stepped in and helped out either by assisting or even leading the group for short periods but I would usually re-assume the leadership. Initially to communicate our upcoming events we would simply use a Website that I developed as well as mass mailings to people on our email list which at its high point exceeded 400 people. This worked for a long time however it reached a point when people were less likely to review our website because they were spending so much time on Facebook, and lets face it, most people don’t know how to do anything on a computer other than review Facebook or play Angry Birds or whatever other game is all the rage at the moment.
During one particular “lag” period our group experienced and after we started using Facebook there was a wonderfully sweet person that would post daily (and sometimes hourly) pictures to the group, generally hearts, angels, flowers, and other sickeningly sweet offerings. We weren’t really having any events during this period and the lady posted these pictures all throughout the day at nausea. A few new members joined during this lag period and since no events were being scheduled all they were seeing were the postings made by this lady. Finally a new member posted “Is this what this group is about? Pretty pictures? I’ll be quitting now.” Personally I was in total agreement with this new member and I had felt that these “pretty pictures” were over-kill for quite sometime.
I didn’t want to lose this new member because I felt that each and every person that was part of our group was important and key to our existence as well as diversity. I reached out to him through private messaging as he had kept his promise and dropped from the group. I explained that I too was a bit annoyed by the postings and was trying to determine a way to subtly mention to this lady that she should keep the pretty pictures to her own timeline and only post items pertinent to the group, I also explained that as the summer months were approaching he would see an increase in our activities. Our new member was satisfied with this and decided to rejoin the group. I was surprised however when the person that was co-operating the group at the time told me we should “throw out the new member” because at least the lady was posting something and contributing and we did not need someone totally new coming in and sharing negativity.
I told my co-leader that I agreed with the new member and felt we should address the issue with the lady. My co-leader became angry and turned this discussion into an equality issue stating that the men of the group were posting jokes and such and no one was complaining. She felt that this was a move by the gay men in the group to segregate and eventually remove the lesbians. I told her that this was absurd and that I simply felt the stuff that the lady was posting was more damaging to the group and decided that we should ask members to refrain from posting any jokes, pictures, or opinions that did not pertain to the group. Now in my co-leaders defense there was a man that occasionally would post jokes and she mentioned him in particular again arguing that this was an attack on the women of the group and I told her that while I agreed even though this man only posted one or two jokes per week as compared the overwhelming number of pretty pictures this lady was posting there was no sexual discrimination or anything divisive in requesting the cessation of the pretty pictures. I also told her I would speak with man personally and tell him as well to refrain from posting anything other than topics that might truly be of interest (i.e. events or pertinent conversations).
Now this is not just opinion but fact, after the pretty pictures stopped the group began to thrive, I truly believe that the daily posts by this woman gave the impression that it was somehow a “cultish” type “online only” group. Without the constant bombardment of pretty pictures people began interacting. I’m not saying that what this lady was posting was hindering the group but apparently it did cause reluctance of others to post, or maybe it was coincidence… I can’t explain what people were thinking. Okay so far I have been rambling more about the social group and less about Facebook but this is one of the first instances where Facebook postings came under fire. The lady who was posting the pictures was very sweet and didn’t mean to cause any harm but her posts were very annoying, especially since at that time it appeared that once a member of a group there was no way to stop notifications so your phone would buzz with every heart or angel she posted..
I am an atheist and I am constantly being bombarded with all the “beautiful” and “annoying” god loves you posts. I think its sweet some people need their faith and belief to keep them on track and moral. I personally don’t need a imaginary deity to keep me moral, or at least my definition of morality which I believe is pretty much on par with what Christians believe as being moral. It is scary though when Christians ask me how I know not to murder or rape without the bible, god, and faith. REALLY! These people think that without this book controlling them they might actually be capable of murder and rape? Without these ancient goat and sheep shepherd’s stories and myths we would be killing each other for the sheer fun of it?
Its no joke to say that I could get 50+ god loves you messages a day and I always tolerated them, at no time have I ever said to anyone “Hey stop forcing your stupid god crap on me! Do what your bible says and keep prayers private!”… Nope, never have I responded this way to the daily battery of annoying posts but let me re-post my one or two or maybe three atheistic AND TOTALLY LOGICAL messages and I am attacked by these so called “loving” and “caring” Christians. These (at least in the U.S.) “patriots” that claim to be “defenders of the Constitution and free speech” (as long as the Constitution and the free speech agree with their beliefs) I guess these attacks are their efforts to demonstrate to the world how devout they are (even though many of them have never even set foot in a church or read the bible – which I have done both) they assault me behind the shield of Facebook and anonymity. One of my cousins even disowned me… Can you believe that she severed a familial relationship with me over an imaginary entity!! And because I shared some posts that I didn’t even create!! So I stopped sharing my atheistic views and postings, why I let these idiots influence me I will never know but I learned that if my thoughts weren’t consistent with what others want to hear then they will retaliate with hate, turning our (what was supposed to be) fun and interactive Facebook community into a tool to spread their anger, divisiveness, their nastiness, oh and lets not forget their “beautiful and loving” religion (you can’t have a god of love and religion without including hate and intolerance).
Its so easy to be mean and hateful using Facebook and as a matter of fact I was mean last night in response to someone being critical of my recent ramp up and increase of postings and this angry reaction was what prompted me to once again deactivate my account and I will talk more about that later. I need to take a Facebook break again. I already wrote about some of my previous Facebook issues in my posting called “FACEBOOK! Argggghhhh!!!!” but I wanted to go into more depth since my return to Facebook has resulted in yet again rather than making me feel good about myself, having fun and sharing my thoughts and beliefs (or lack of), rather my “friends and family” leave me feeling as if I am just an annoyance and someone only to be tolerated and attacked, as less than human whose opinion means nothing while their hate spewing means everything.
I am not totally guiltless, sometimes I’m the pot calling the kettle black, I mean I have been involved in several spats online simply over misunderstandings between how others took my postings or how I perceived their postings, and it is easy to hide behind the Facebook “wall of distance and anonymity” but the only time I have ever really retaliated has been when those misunderstandings were verbalized on my timeline or news feed and directed towards me and I can tell you that every time I have hit enter while I did feel good for a short period it was always later when I would re-read what I had said and would think… “Did I really need to respond in that way?” and wonder why I just didn’t step away from the keyboard and take a break. (Part of that answer might be because I was drinking when I read the posts but even then I’m not a hateful person, at least I don’t think I am. Why do or did I respond with negativity. I should have taken the high road.)
Back to the gay social group that I was running… As I said I have invested a lot of time in this group, 5 years perhaps with a few “lag” periods. It should be noted that when I let the group lag it lagged, no one else stepped in, if I didn’t keep the group going it would die. No one offered to help during the lags, generally no events were planned and nothing would happen, no one other that the female co-leader I mentioned above would participate or even attempt to keep the group going. (My referencing her as female co-leader rather than simply a co-leader is critical to future postings when it will become apparent how “divisive” she would become in her attempts to create an “all female” group at the expense of the existing group and its male population, sometimes women will separate themselves in the name of equality which doesn’t make sense to me.)
Without going into a lot of detail I had given up the group which was the beginning of its demise ending its 5 year run. It was taken over by a gay male couple and initially I was very impressed (and so a bit jealous) of how they were operating things, they were going the route that I had always intended and even though I hadn’t recognized it as jealously yet I thought “Wow! This group is going to survive without me” and it did do well for a few months however those that were now running the group starting ignoring the bylaws and rules that had been established over the 5 years of lessons learned, the fight against discriminated and intolerance within our own community, our little group was eroding. There were turning the group into their own private party list, an effort to increase their popularity. In fact they started discriminating based on race, income, and generally making it their own private social club (Again, I will go into more details regarding this in future postings). So I started taking back over, I expressed my displeasure with the direction the group was being taken, looking back I should have just stepped out of it but again I think now, with a sensible head, a lot of what I was feeling was jealousy, the fact that I wasn’t missed as the leader, the fact that others could take over as if I had never contributed at all.
Needless to say that the people that were restructuring the group weren’t happy with my interference and decided they in turn would post negative comments about me on Facebook. Now my criticism was not public, not at first, I shared my thoughts with them on a one-on-one level but they decided to put our disagreement on Facebook (of course I think the instigator was drunk at the time) the attacks started out mild and over time became very personal and hateful, such as when one of them referred to me as a “snake” to the nearly 400 +/- members of our group. I didn’t take well to this and I did respond negatively in one of those next morning “What did I do that for” revelations, however it was too late… I lost some friends over my directness in regards to the racial slurs that I had heard from these members and accusation regarding the tolerance of this racism by other member including my female co-leader and determined that the best thing for me to do would be to leave group (as well as Facebook). The result, essentially the group is no more, but again I’m not trying to write about the group today and will delve more into the details of all of the above later.
Okay 6 or more months had passed and I had learned to live without Facebook. It wasn’t a bad thing to live without but every now and then I felt the pang of loss thinking that I was missing something happening in the lives of my friends or was simply falling out of touch, but really what difference did it make, the world trudged on without me, just like it would and will do when I am permanently gone, dead. Seeing how people do without on Facebook is in its own tiny way seeing how they will do without you permanently. So at some point I reactivated my account. I didn’t jump back into it with both feet, rather I stuck my toe in the water and slowly submerged myself into its depths. A month later I was drowning in political opinions, attack on and support for gay marriage, millions of reminders that god loved me and game requests including numerous inspirational comments and other such garbage. Everything was back to normal, as if I had never gone. Every so often a friend would post a picture of their dinner or cocktail, or check in at a location but rarely would anyone share their thoughts or tell what they were doing. Facebook has become more about reposting memes and bragging, trying to make others jealous of the lives they are living rather than caring about those people on their friends list. These friends are just patsies being used to force personal thoughts on people. Somehow I don’t like the personal connection anymore, I would rather delete all my friends and be totally anonymous, that way when I’m attacked its by some nutcase I could careless about and not some person I might run into at the grocery store. Despite part of my reactivation goal was to be totally optimistic and positive and post things of substance…you know things that were happening in my life. Happy things, the types of things I just mention were and are not happening anymore in the Facebook experience. I wanted to have fun. At first I was glad to be back in the world of Facebook… that is until I started recognizing the same ugly sarcasm, the hateful comments, the embarrassment that these so-called friends dished out. NASTY PEOPLE!
Some of my “Facebook” embarrassment I bring on myself, sometimes (or rather a lot of times) its alcohol driven. I like to think of myself as a fun drunk. I’m not one of those that starts crying, or moaning, or telling people they are the best friends I have had in some inane slurring rambling. I want to try and have a good time, make people laugh, and sometimes my humor doesn’t translate, but I don’t believe I need to be crucified. One night i was at a small gay party… there were 6 of us and an hour before the party had started I had gotten my nipple pierced which I talk about in my posting called “Mid-Life Crisis?” I had taken 2 Percocet’s with a beer before the piercing to help with the pain of the piercing. I also take an anti-depressant daily which warns me not to drink and then what it I do? I drink anyway, at the party and I drank and drank and drank…I mean I was a mess! Well I ended up naked… don’t ask me why… its way to complicated and I will talk about it at some other posting…(for some reason when I get too drunk getting naked is something I do, one of those things I sometimes, but not always regret. I think a lot of it has to do with my camping at The Woods Campground where clothing is optional. Ever since I freed myself from clothes I don’t like the bound up feeling, especially of long sleeves or long pants. Everyday when I come home from work the first think I do is strip down to short, no underwear, no shirt, barefoot. That my most comfortable state.
So as a joke (again not to go into it and I remember this clearly) people had stepped out of the room and I wanted to “shock them” when they returned. I think it worked. They laughed and smiled, I wasn’t being sexual, I was just being “naked”. However one of my friends decided to call me out on Facebook, they decided that my actions should be made public and it wasn’t in a fun way, it was an assault, I later found out he referred to me as a jerk for doing this, okay so maybe I was a bit of a jerk, but believe me some of the stories of orgies that I have heard these parties develop into, or where the hosts single out the youngest and most attractive men to bed before the party is over I think that criticizing me for my (probably out of line) joke was over the top. If I had offended them so badly they could have sent me a private email or even later told me in a private conversation “Hey, what you did the other night? No cool”. My feelings would have been hurt but at least it wouldn’t have been shared with everyone I know in the world.
So this debacle went from being between 6 of us to the whole world knowing. Okay, even this I can live with, its not that big of a deal I’m not ashamed of my body and not ashamed of the fact that I was naked for a little bit at a private party…(it was a joke… and being pretty drunk I followed through, maybe not appropriate but then again, it was innocent). I don’t regret getting naked, what I regret is my friends’ response. So once again Facebook created a situation that escalated something that should have gone no further than between a few friends to HUNDREDS of people. Now hundreds of people were told about my inebriated outrageous behavior, including the few work friends I had. It wasn’t so much that people were told because I knew that I would certainly recount this story to others in one on one situations (it was funny, at the time people laughed, even if they were uncomfortable but I don’t think that any of this group where, all but one of us have seen each other naked before as all but the one of us had go together to The Woods Campground where all but one of us has gotten nude in public) but it was the way they were told. The person posting it made sound more tawdry than it actually was. But despite my embarrassment I did not respond negatively, rather I was pretty up beat about the whole situation and even joked about it with those that commented (despite my thinking… “why did I do it?” something that without Facebook’s involvement would have never concerned me or given me any regret.) After they posted and posted and again and posted again and again, not dropping the damn thing I commented something in regard to there at least being entertainment at the party in the form of a stripper.
This last week I started posting more aggressively. I started sharing all sorts of aspects of my life, what I was doing, where I was going, etc. I wasn’t thinking about the people seeing the posts, I was thinking about my own entertainment on Facebook but wouldn’t you know it. Again, someone had to be mean, had to attack me. This one “friend” commented at one point when there was a 3 hour gap in my postings why I hadn’t posted… he wanted to know if I had “taken a whiz”. This bothered me a bit. I started thinking… “Am I posting too much?” but I was still able to joke about it, I told my friend with a responsive post “Hey! I took a whiz”. His post/question to me was passive aggressive and so was my response.
But the other day I finally deactivated my account again. The person that posted the “whiz” comment spoke to a mutual friend that does not use Facebook and he felt it critical to mention to our friend that he should consider himself lucky that he doesn’t use Facebook (and to word it as he did to my friend) “Otherwise you would hear when (insert my name) takes a shit”. Now was this called for? If he doesn’t want to know what I do in my day to day activities he should delete me from his friends or limit what he sees. I have always put up with enough of his Republican postings and pro Tea Party ranting’s on Facebook without uttering a single complaint, I have always tolerated his view points despite being the total opposite of my opinions, I simply ignore his postings that to me are often offensive. But yet let me use Facebook for what it was intended for and I am harassed and attacked.
His comment made me feel like maybe I was over doing it, suddenly I felt flush and embarrassed that I was sharing my life. Maybe I’m the one that misunderstands Facebook, maybe we aren’t supposed to post pictures of our families and things that happen to us. Maybe we are only supposed to post pictures of our dinners, check in when we walk into a 7-11 and post only the views of our friends, not our own. I HATE FACEBOOK! No, I hate the way people use Facebook. I’m sick of you idiots dictating and commenting about how and why a person want to use the god-damned app. Basically I’m saying FUCK YOU!
Why did this person feel it necessary to take my comments which I felt were fun facts (not political, not religious, not hateful, etc) just things that I was doing and what was going on in my life and turn it into something so negative that he actually made me feel ashamed for posting it? My response was to apologize to all my friends that I was “annoying” for using Facebook for what it was intended for I told them they could go back to posting their god comments, their political nastiness, their love or hatred of gay marriage, game requests and what ever other impersonal crap they were posting and they didn’t have to worry about my posting my memories of my life, the thing that maybe a year or two from now I can look back on and say “Oh, that’s what I was doing.” so instead I got to look at their god-damned political rantings when I get that “A year ago today post” that Facebook puts out. Nope. I’m not doing it so again, I deactivated my account.
I know that at some point I will return to Facebook, there are aspects I really like such as the “map” feature or the “check-in” feature. I just don’t understand why people have to be so nasty when they are behind the Facebook curtain (myself included… because I know that if I were in person I wouldn’t respond to the negativity as I always seem to do despite knowing when I review it later I am going to regret my actions. But I tell you want, when I look back at that idiot’s Republican posts about how welfare is destroying this country from 2 years ago, at least I will know that I was with my dog that is now deceased, or working on my yard, planting new flowers, or talking to a friend I hadn’t spoken with in a year. I won’t be posting that I was taking a shit unlike what this idiot told my other friend because taking a shit is about as important as his political posts claiming Obama is ruining our country and wants to take away his guns.