Monday, October 09, 2017

An open letter to my Facebook friends on the occasion of this morning's bit of bother


First, time to get honest about our relationship. Mostly we aren’t really friends, are we? I’m connected to 2,400 Facebook “friends,” and it might be a stretch to imagine that even five per cent of them are genuine friends of mine. So how about we think of each other as “connections” instead, all of us with our various reasons for deciding who we connect with on this odd thing we know as Facebook.

My connections have grown vast since I first opened my Facebook account a decade ago. But right from the get-go I took the approach that if you’re a real person and plan to contribute something to the public conversation beyond trying to get my vote or my money for your multi-level-marketing product, I’m up for connecting.

I happily connect to people without knowing whether we share the same opinions, values, world views. I appreciate diversity of thinking and culture, even when it’s uncomfortable. I almost never “unfriend” a connection, having decided long ago that freedom of speech is a foundational element of democracy that I want to actively support.

But that’s not to say I won’t give you a rough time now and then when you post something that irritates the hell out of me.

I sometimes wonder if it feels like a shock to a Facebook connection when I get prickly over something they wrote. If so, my apologies to any in my Facebook network who assume our being connected means that we agree on all the issues of the world, or at the very least have a tacit agreement not to acknowledge said differences publicly. I don't see things that way.

No worries that I’ll be prowling through all your Facebook posts, barking at you for this or that. I’m only reserving the right to get crabby when you come onto my Facebook page and say whatever you’re saying. Our pages are kind of like our houses, so when a person stands on my doorstep yelling their uninvited views through my door, I figure I’ve got every right to yell them right back out the door and off the property.

Here’s my promise to you: I will never be rude, or at least not until way late in a lengthy and fruitless back-and-forth that is getting tedious. I will do my best to make myself clear without malice, meanness or abusive language. But I won’t always be nice.

One thing my connections definitely need to understand is that I offer no protection from other people in my Facebook network who play much rougher than I do. Those who post on a post of mine are on their own to settle any differences between each other. I usually walk away from comment threads once they get completely out of control.

Every now and then, I do unfriend someone. If a person is relentlessly awful - racist, homophobic, idiotic or otherwise generally horrible whenever they post something on my page - they’re gone. One guy threatened violence, so he got the hook, too.

Should you feel the need to unfriend me after suffering one of my attacks, please don’t hesitate. I’m just fine with that. Whatever our reasons for connecting on Facebook, we are free to bail when the cons start to outweigh the pros. A lot of times we don't even know each other, after all. Also, many people take great umbrage at having their views challenged. Who knew?

I suspect I’ve lost some “friends” over my sex work perspective as well, so might as well get that one on the record while we’re being honest with each other: I am a committed and unequivocal supporter of sex workers’ rights to work and live free of discrimination, stigma and bad laws that routinely cause far more harm than good. I will come after you like a Cooper’s hawk on a plump robin if you come over to my page and start posting uninformed BS about sex workers.

Other than that, welcome, friend! I expect we’ll (mostly) get along just fine.

2 comments:

Shannon Whissell said...

Awesome post, Jody. One of the things I count on with the conversations on your FB profile are your reasoned, informed responses. And while so far we are mostly on the same side, I know that if the time comes when we aren't necessarily in agreement, I will endeavuour to meet you with the same informed respect you show to others.

Who would have thought simply sharing someone else's ad would have created such a tempest?

Paula Sweeney Fletcher said...

I'm staying.