Recently, I’ve been wondering about this a lot. Most of us conduct at least part of our daily social activity online, and for many, that social giant Facebook is the site of choice. I’ve been actively using Facebook for several years, and have built a fairly large following there, mostly due to my work as an author. So, with literally over 10,000 followers between a personal profile and my business page, it’s an active spot. Lately, I’ve spent less and less time on the site, and I’ve slowly begun to realize that less time is better for the psyche in many ways.
Facebook has been linked to suicide, depression, and any number of psychological and emotion issues people are dealing with, and I think as time passes, it becomes clear why. For a social media, Facebook is often the polar opposite and more rightly is anti-social media at its best. I don’t claim to understand why people feel the need to be a different person when they are safely behind their screens, but it seems to afflict many on a regular basis. There are things said, done, and touted by folks who’d never behave in the same fashion in their “real life” dealings with others. At least I hope they wouldn’t! People become bullies, bitches, judgemental asses, and a host of other equally nice things. All that aggression is what makes everyone into a potential victim, or a potential abuser in some way. And this is social?
Only yesterday I signed in and was scrolling my newsfeed on Facebook. I was only ten seconds, literally TEN seconds, online when I was treated to someone “outing” her husband and the woman she THINKS he is cheating with–apart from the fact that this is none of the general public’s business anyway, she had no real evidence of his cheating, just her “instinct” that he was bonking her good friend… If she’s right, it’s her personal business, not the world’s–if she’s wrong, she’s never going to be able to take it back, or contain the fallout for her husband, or the friend who will forever be labelled by her accusation. Scroll a little further, and I’m treated to a cheerfully posted news item about some poor bugger who’s been castrated with a meat clever and is in critical condition after he was found attempting to rape a girl. The poster commented “I guess he won’t be trying that again.” Flaming hell… Is this really something to be smart-ass about? Pictures of village people smeared with blood after their act of “justice” is not my idea of social media content I want to see.
I realize we all use these sites for differing reasons. For some it’s business, for others it’s keeping in touch with family and friends who are not always close. But wow… I have a popular fan page on Facebook, and it’s been hounded often by people who love to hit that report button. I post male models almost daily, though less now because of the problems, and I’ve seen some bizarre and ignorant shit happen, too. One day I posted a photo of a young model lying on a table, the curve of his ass was showing, but nothing else private. That photo got shared a lot, then I began seeing comments from people NOT on the page. One woman told a friend who’d shared it that she loved her crochet patterns, but didn’t want to see a naked man on her newsfeed, so she was reporting. Apparently use of the “hide” button is not an option. The same photo inspired some middle eastern gentleman to remark “a naked man!” and he informed me he was reporting me for pornographic content. I suspect had it been one of the naked, buxom bimbos seen all over Facebook he’d have been less inclined toward reporting content. It’s not the first time, and I suspect it will not be the last time, so I’ve asked the page readers to be cautious when sharing, because I’ve been banned from posting for as long as a week over this stuff, and it never violates policy, just prudish sensibilities.
Then there are the authors, of which I am one. I try NOT to bombard the newsfeed with promotion that is essentially useless anyway. But the new thing I’ve noticed cropping up is the ranting and raging by authors–in public venue. That same scroll along the newsfeed treated me to several authors behaving badly. One using four letter words generously while she bitched about how her first book was slammed because it lacked A, B, and C, and now that book two is out, she is being slammed for too much A, B, and C. She concludes this peppered post with “Screw everyone.” Ok, if you need to vent, do it–but is it really a good idea to do it on your public page? Potential publishers DO notice this stuff, as well as other industry people. Is this the impression you want them to take away–your total lack of respect or judgement in dealing with criticism? Then there are the authors who are making HUGE noise over grievances with their publishers. Again, a little circumspection seems to be in order here. People DO watch and see this stuff. Readers may be cooing and ranting at the injustices done to you, but industry people see a potential nightmare if they sign you. Publishers and agents aren’t stupid, they don’t want troublesome people disrupting their business, and if you’re screaming to all and sundry, you label yourself in a negative way. There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with issues, public crucifixion isn’t generally the best option, whether you are right or wrong quickly becomes secondary to the noise you’re making about it. The bandwagon is usually large and accommodating, but it attracts a whole lot of ugly, too.
There’s a reason smart “public figures” don’t tend to get involved in public statements about religion, politics, and the like. These are hot buttons and should really be avoided like the plague. Things always circle back, what is posted to the internet never really goes away. I’ve been as guilty as the rest in the past, letting my temper get the better of me. BUT, in recent years, I’ve grown less prone to getting caught up in other people’s crazy, and a whole lot more protective of my own presence. I don’t necessarily agree with the policies of Facebook, but in truth, the misconception that what we post on OUR pages is indeed ours is patently ridiculous. Read those terms of service, and realize the site you’re on is not yours, it’s space owned by someone else, and you agree to that owner’s terms when you click “accept” and open your account. The contradictions, the abuses and violations, they’re everywhere on the site. Pages devoted to sex, violence, hate, etc. Often they go unreported while relatively innocent but popular pages come under scrutiny. This is the reality. ALL social media is filled with violations of policy, and people eager to be malicious and self-important so they report anything and everything with impunity. Go hard, as a friend of mine says.
In the end, life has a funny habit of snapping back like a boomerang, and it will hit you hard when you’re being deliberately destructive toward someone else. Hell, I’m on a block list half a mile long with some–and most of those people are blocking because they’ve been told to, so here again, we have a total lack of sense being shown. Do I care that strangers block me, attempt to spread crap like fertilizer, etc.? Not anymore. I did once. What’s happened since has just made me see that Karma is indeed real, and sees all. I’ve walked away, and I’m still standing, still working, still signing contracts for books, etc. What I am not doing is engaging in stupidity, vengeance for imagined slights and affronts, and I have no block list because I refuse to behave like a petulant a two year old–or be told who I can and can’t engage with on any media site. I still won’t be visiting Facebook a lot, because it’s simply become too dangerous to good mental health! I’d rather create than destroy, and be real instead of being an online bully or troll…
It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada–to everyone in my public world and my private life, thank you for being part of the journey. You make it worthwhile in more ways than I can ever say. May your path be clear and trouble free…and may your social media be a more social experience than it is anti-social. If this makes even one person think, then there’s a new blessing to give thanks for, as well.