“Our social tools are not an improvement to modern society; they are a challenge to it.”
― Clay Shirky
I’ve started looking at my Crackbook feed again. It’s a cycle for me. I look at the feed. Then, someone PISSES ME OFF! Then I say fuck it, it’s all a bunch of crap! I ignore the feed for a while, sniffing my wounds. They have the same smell as a patch of my burnt flesh that’s healing. Awful, yet compellingly delightful. Finally, the wounds heal enough that the smell has stopped mesmerizing me and I go back to the feed.
This time I’m focusing on the cute animal posts. Dogs and Cats living together. A rodent wearing a crocodile head. A dog that has the same suspicions about broccoli that I have. Google it. I try to ignore all the bullshit. Unless of course, it’s actually funny and not just mean and stupid.
And there is a lot of mean and stupid out there. You’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it. Of course, since we are all different, what we think is mean and stupid is different as well. We’re an entire population of crazy people all thinking that we’re the only sane ones.
But you know what? All of these people and their opinions are just not my business. I really don’t have an impulse to try and live in the middle ground. I don’t want to jump through hula hoops trying to not piss everyone off. It’s impossible. And I would be hurting myself to even try.
I have to come up with a model, a system of how to navigate social media. And I have to decide how I want to respond to it. For me. Not anyone else.
I’d like to share how I’ve decided to deal with it. Your system might be very different.
To me, the post on my own feed, the start of a thread, is an offering. I’m putting something out in the world. Your posts on your own feed are the same, you’re putting something out in the world. It’s an offering. In Improv, it’s often the first line of dialog, or a physical action, that sets the stage for the scene. On social media, it’s a conversation starter.
As an offering, it’s a sacred thing. It’s yours and mine. We own our own offering. For many people, their offering is of a very personal nature. It takes courage to make an offering. As such, it should be respected.
For me, I tend to post quotes that show the frame of mind I’m in at that time. They are a truth for me. And since they are quotes, people tend to not get their backs up. They are easily ignored. I also post my blog posts from Raged and Confused. I’m pretty sure no one is reading them, but that doesn’t stop me.
Because I see my posts as sacred, I’m very protective of them.
Other People’s Offerings
My posts are sacred to me and other people’s posts are sacred to them. As I rampage through the feed, I see a lot of things I don’t agree with. A lot! But these posts are not mine to shout at.
I generally just pass by posts that I don’t agree with. I’m not a fascist, ready to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with me. Lots of people don’t agree with me. I’m fairly polarizing. And I don’t agree with everyone. I just remember the Golden Rule:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I don’t want to be attacked, so I don’t attack others.
That said, if I see too many posts that make me feel bad, I’ll quit following them. If we were never close, I might just defriend them. I’ve been defriended by people who I’m not close with. And yeah, there’s a bit of a niggling feeling, but maybe they felt we are not a match. That’s okay. We all need to be a bit more discriminating! I know I do.
Now, I have tried to have a conversation when I’ve felt strongly about something. I try to do it nicely, in a non-violent way. But every time I’ve tried, it’s bit me in the ass. So now, unless they are actually close to me, I just let it go.
Your posts are sacred to me, as are mine. You have a right to your own opinion.
My Rules for Commenting:
- If I can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
- If they are asking for advice, and I actually have some, give it. But nicely and kindly.
- If I know them to be a jokester, or they appreciate my jokes, I might make a funny comment
- If they are not a jokester, I don’t make jokes.
- I might share a story with them, as long as it doesn’t hijack their post.
- I might make a statement of agreement or support.
- I’m very careful about constructive criticism or alternative ideas. In fact, I rarely give it.
- I find the least damaging thing I can do is to just acknowledge that I heard them.
- If I feel close to them, and they seem to need to talk to someone, I’ll give them a call. Not do it on Crackbook.
My Rules for Comments on My Own Posts:
- If I don’t know someone and they troll/shame/blame me, I delete the posts. That person has nothing to offer me. If they continue, they are banned.
- If I know you and you troll/shame/blame me, and I value the relationship, I will try to have a private conversation with you. If you can’t respect my boundaries, you’re gone.
- All commenters on my sacred post shall remain respectful of each other.
- If someone has an alternative view, and they are respectful about it, I’m fine. If I don’t understand, I’ll ask for clarification. That’s called being an adult.
- I have no tolerance for violence towards me, and that includes trolling, blaming and shaming. You need to do that, do it on your own feed. The rest of us adults can just ignore you.
Trolls, Hijackers, and Shamers, Oh My!
Yep, these are the people who violate the Golden Rule. I really don’t like them. And, it’s a rabid dislike. I admit it. It’s a flaw. To be perfectly honest, I don’t see it as a flaw at all. I see it as boundary setting.
When I first started thinking about this post, my intention was, if the culprit was on my friends list, to have a conversation with them about it. I wanted to set boundaries and keep that relationship. That didn’t work so well.
When I restarted Raged and Confused, someone decided that it was a forum to engage in shaming and blaming. I tried to have a conversation with her but she just heard what she wanted to hear. I told her to “Have at it, but never do it to me”. She said “Yes, shaming and blaming was a good start to getting people to change their behavior.” There was something clearly wrong with her noodle. We weren’t close, and I couldn’t remember where I met her in the first place so I had to let her go. I doubt she even noticed.
I make a lot of posts about people attacking and shaming/blaming. One day, someone responded to my post saying “Exception! Fuck Trump!” Before I even saw it, one of my Trump supporter friends jumped all over him calling him an idiot.
The first friend hijacked my heartfelt post and turned it into a political platform. That was a selfish thing to do to me. The second responded too harshly to the hijacked post. They both broke the Golden Rule.
I got after both of them for it and they both apologized. As is appropriate. They have wildly differing politics but they both mean a lot to me. No defriending had to occur. And to those in Seattle who are Trump haters, my Trump loving friend and his mother saved my life when I was a teenager. He is in my heart. Be very careful…
The Defensive Troll:
Warning: Long rant, go to the next section if you must.
In Seattle, there’s this thing going around where people pick their pronouns that they prefer to be referred by. Many improv classes start with people sharing their names, what they want to get out of the class and what their pronouns are.
Now, deep down inside, I don’t really understand the pronoun thing. But it seems to be important to people, so even though I don’t understand it, I try to comply. Considering I have a hard time just remembering names as it is, unless I’m close to a person, I usually don’t remember all the pronouns.
I’ve been volunteering at The Pocket theater and I’d made a post about it closing. I happened to refer to someone and used the wrong pronoun. Someone else got on my feed and corrected me in what I thought was a curt and unkind way. So, I PM’d them, explaining that when I’m corrected like that it makes me feel bad. I thought that was the right thing to do. Say it in a non-violent way and privately.
She replied to me saying that the first thing she does is scan the post looking for issues like pronoun misuse because when she sees it, she feels bad. She said that she felt the need to defend the other person.
Well, I read this and pretty much lost my mind. The idea that someone was on my friends list, going through my posts looking for problems so that she could get after me publicly, made me completely lose my head.
And you can imagine, things have gone downhill from there. To me, this is the essence of troll behavior. And I don’t accept troll behavior.
The last time I teched at The Pocket she was doing the box office. She sniped at me. Me:“The tea kettle is boiling; do you want me to turn it off?” Her: “I NEVER ASKED YOU TO ANYTHING FOR ME!” And it didn’t stop there.I had no idea what she wanted from me. I tried to just avoid her. Yelling at me didn’t work, she had to change her tactics.
She said that she just really hates how we left it on FB, she said nice things about valuing me. Okay, we can try and talk. By this time, I’m convinced that she’s mired in victim mentality and I try to tell her that being true to yourself and owning the gender you feel you are, are heroic acts that take courage. Part of that courage is because not everyone is going to agree. The message I was trying to get across was that I wanted to treat her like the courageous person she is and not like she’s a victim.
She didn’t like what I was saying. “PEOPLE NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS!” Yeah, they do need to take responsibility for their actions! All this drama over a fucking PRONOUN! And it wasn’t even her pronoun! She’s not the one I owed an apology to! And the person I referred to doesn’t even use social media that much!
I sent the other person an email telling them I’m sorry I used the wrong pronoun on a post they’d never see.
I don’t know what to do about this person. We’ve previously had some heart-to-hearts. I’ve tried to talk to her. But I will not accept troll behavior. Period. Maybe it’s time to let her go.
Thanks for listening to my side of the story.
I’m still trying to figure out how to use social media so that it doesn’t piss me off. I’m trying to follow my own rules. I’m trying to be understanding that some people have something going on in their noodle that makes them act inappropriately.
But I have to admit, it’s been hard. It makes me angry and I get even angrier all the time.
I need to have relationships with people I actually can see and hug. Crackbook is a Band-Aid. It’s just not real. I find it disturbing that it affects us so much. There has to be a better way.
Oh, and for my Xmas present to myself I defriended the troll.