I’m doing (another) stint in Facebook Timeout. Every ban I’ve ever gotten has been for really stupid reason. “Harassment” was the official reason a few times. Harassment in these cases means I disagreed with someone’s opinion and they got mad. No exaggeration. I’ve been part of and seen respectful ,well constructed comments reported and resulting in a ban. Every single time, the commenter who was being disagreed with was stating opinions that would fall under the following categories : racism,homophobia,sexism, misogyny ,transphobia, body shaming, classism, religious intolerance….and of course, breastfeeding.Other things ,too, but those are the main things. So, it’s ok to state racist and general assholey opinions of the book of face but if you disagree with those opinions, THAT is harassment. Got it? Yeah, me neither but that’s the way it seems to work.
I’ve been writing and participating in the blogosphere since 2002. WAY before Facebook. I liked it better then. For awhile ,Facebook did help bloggers establish farther reach to wider audiences but with the new “algorithms”, only 10% of a blog page’s audience sees their posts at all. Social media experts have spent the last few years explaining to bloggers that they NEED to have a presence on Facebook and I just don’t agree with that. Bloggers had readers without Facebook . It can be that way again.
The biggest change between blogging “back then” and now is how commenting has changed. This is the thing I miss the most. People used to leave comments ONLY on blogs! They didn’t just leave a comment on Facebook after seeing the title of a post and assuming they knew everything the post was about (sorry,that’s one of my biggest comment pet peeves. For crying out loud, people. READ the damn post before you comment! ).
Maybe it’s because I am incredibly disgruntled with Facebook at this exact second but I feel compelled to toss out the one huge reason that ya’ll, dear readers, should consider being a blog commenter instead of a Facebook commenter.
THIS IS A SAFE SPACE
On Facebook, the lack of privacy means if you leave a comment on a page, all of the people you have friended on Facebook can see that comment. How many people you’ve friended on Facebook do you actually like or want to know your latest fight down at social services with your food stamp caseworker? The lack of privacy keeps people from commenting on pages in a conversation they could use support,advice or be the person to lend experience and support. On this blog, you don’t even have to use your real name to comment.
When I saw this is a safe space, I also mean that people are free to speak openly without fear of being attacked or judged for their experiences while dealing with class struggles and other issues that people in poverty have encountered. Everyone who has been marginalized by society is safe here. Comments that attack or demean anyone based on race,income,ability,sexuality,and gender are not tolerated. As the blog owner, I also have the added bonus of being able to block IP addresses and heavily moderate comments from people not interested in being part of an inclusive and supportive community.
I think of my blog as being an extension of my personal space. Like it’s my living room. When I am moderating comments, I think, “If this person were in my house, would I ask them to get out?” And would I ask them back again to give it another shot?
This might seem ridiculous to think I could craft such a place on the Internet but I believe that on any space I have devoted to curating the content with a spirit of hope & good intention, I have every right to make it so. I think I even feel that it’s my responsibility to my readers that I make this space as safe as I possibly can. My one bit of advice to people while using the Internet is ,”DON’T READ THE COMMENTS!”. The comment section of most places is a triggering cesspool of emotions. I want this blog to be the exception to that. Not only should it be ok to read the comments but it should be ok to leave a comment and not have to worry about unkind responses. It’s AWESOME to have thoughtful and engaging conversations about hot topic issues. Open dialogues are important. The best way to facilitate these kinds of conversations where everyone feels comfortable is to have guidelines that keep abusive attitudes out of the space entirely.
Unless one of the moderators on the Facebook page is vigilantly checking comments, it’s so impossible to ensure this sort of space can be a reality on Facebook. It just isn’t.