Most of you also follow my partner in crime, William Kendall--and know that he's been suspended from Facebook, well, a few times. Somewhere along the line in the almost seven years we've known each other, we went through a personality reversal of sorts. I used to be the one with the temper, who would attack if someone looked at me the wrong way. These days, he's always getting in trouble for sounding off and I've never been suspended. I'd like to think that in my case, it's a matter of wisdom coming with age, but if I'm to be honest here, I'm just too old and tired to waste precious time on idiots.
I have two personal rules for social media: if I disagree with someone, I don't get offensive or insulting. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether they agree with me or not. And I never debate anyone on their personal pages. That would be like insulting someone in their own home. Disagreements are for groups or product pages. I refuse to lower myself to troll level.
I have two Facebook pages--my author page, open to everyone. What good is an author page if no one can see it? The other is my personal page, only open to friends. Some of those friends are local friends, others people I've known in my twenty-plus years as a published author. Some of them I've only known online, but are as close to me as the friends I've known most of my life. It didn't start that way. When I first set up my personal page, I was, like just about everyone else, eager to accumulate as many "friends" as possible.
I'm open to friends interacting on my pages, but at times, responses have gone from silly to insulting. Example of silly: Collin and I are big fans of the Minions. We're always sharing Minion images and links with each other on Facebook. My Facebook page header is a Minion banner Collin created for me. One friend made a point of letting me know she doesn't like the Minions. I've never been quite sure why she felt she had to tell me. I wasn't offended. It doesn't bother me if she doesn't like them; that's her choice.
As for the other end of the social media extreme, I used to frequent the IMDb message boards. That's where William and I met--in a group dedicated to the movie Angels & Demons. I remember once, encountering a particularly nasty troll in a discussion of a young actress who'd recently passed away. The troll had gone to the trouble to check me out--Facebook, Twitter, the whole bag--and made some very insulting remarks, ending with the statement that I probably didn't care what he/she thought. My response was something like this:
"You're right about one thing--I really don't care what you think. But since we're sizing each other up here, this is my take on you: no friends, no job or a crappy job, living in parents' basement or garage, no prospects for the future. At least I have a life. What have you got?"
I only checked that thread once or twice after that. I'm not sure if the troll ever responded.
Getting back to the present. This election has brought out the worst in people, even some otherwise very nice people. Last Saturday, coming home from the monthly writers group meeting at the church, I told a friend about a story I'd seen on Facebook about Donald Trump delivering Play-Doh to the flood victims in Louisiana. When I got home, I shared the story on her Facebook page so she could see it for herself. There was soon a response from a mutual friend, who is clearly not a Trump supporter. It was the commenter who followed him that made me think an online brawl was a distinct possibility. Also a mutual friend, he had posted on his page early on that he refused to get mixed up in political issues at all, so I was surprised that he was not only commenting on this, but came off a little angry, accusing us of having an agenda. Words were exchanged between the two men, neither of whom I'd ever seen even raise their voices in person.
And then there's the incident on my own page that same weekend. Also political in subject matter. Collin and I are fond of taking some of the quizzes offered on Facebook. We took one that was supposed to tell us which candidate we're most like on viewpoints. We both got Hillary Clinton, though we'd been Bernie Sanders supporters. I commented, then a friend from the aforementioned writers group commented with a suggestion that it wasn't Hillary's positions that were the problem with her. I responded with the admission that I do agree with most of her positions on issues. That was followed by an insulting remark posted by one of my so-called Facebook "friends," a guy I've never actually met who was only on my friend list because he's a writer.
He'd been getting on my nerves for a while, always posting links in the comments section to stories I shared instead of just commenting. I never clicked on any of the links, choosing to ignore them. I haven't the time or interest in getting into lengthy debates, friendly or otherwise. I share stories, some I haven't actually read, simply because I see something that's funny or absurd or interesting. I'm not doing it to start an argument. I let it all pass until he insulted me. I'd had enough. I didn't respond to his comment. I just promptly unfriended him.
Got any social media horror stories to share?