I have some friends who are amazing. Besides their writing, day jobs and family life they create Facebook groups for authors to support others, they spend hours setting them up, organising group activities and platforms that benefit everyone, listen to group members problems and suggestions, trying to sort them out and nurture the culture of altruism – a word that is so rare in our self-centred modern world. I cannot believe how wonderfully patient and relentless some of them are.
And yet, not a day goes by when I hear about one of them getting grief from the benefitting group members, either because of a disagreement about the group content, or because the member has issues in their life and needs to vent at someone. The latter seems to be on the increase.
I’ve scaled down my involvement in social media dramatically because of such personal attacks in my role as administrator in FB groups. In my two years as administrator I have seen too many wonderful people give up because they just couldn’t take it anymore. It is a great loss to the community. Some days I am not sure how much longer I am going to last in the role.
Last week I was on holiday when things kicked off in one of my groups. Group rules called for strictly PG rated material – according to a poll amongst all members. When reminding a member of the rule she got abusive, accusing us of picking on her, on censoring the arts (the exposed breasts were part of a classic painting) and throwing her toys out of the pram by saying she was leaving this ridiculous group. Goodbye. End of dialog.
A few hours later I saw by chance that she was relaying the entire conversation to the group, not how it happened but distorting the truth to make herself the victim of art censorship. [NB I voted against the PG rating in the poll btw but was overuled, so this has nothing to do with me being prude]
She carefully didn’t tag the administrators when talking about us so that we couldn’t put our side of the story across.
In the end I had to remove her from the group because of her manipulative tactics.
Now her FB wall is full of trashing the group and the admins. This is not the first time this is happening but one of the few times where it went so far and personal.
Two evenings of arguing and justifying my actions on Facebook that I will never get back. Said member isn’t interested in listening, she needs a funnel for her problems and me and my colleague served that purpose.
The thanks for our time: bad-mouthing on her FB wall.
And she got what she wanted: It did annoy me, she had my attention and my anger and I will think twice before setting up another group in the future.
I’m not telling this story so you feel sorry for me, but to put out a call for more politeness and decency.
They are saints, and if they apear to be off, please remember that they might have had a lot of bad experiences that day and their patience tested to the limit.
Let’s all please just always take a step back on social media before we get into arguments and write snidy comments. More gratitude and appreciation will get us further.
Wanda Hartzenberg and her team
Amber Lea Easton
Sarah Jane Butfield
and tons of others’ whose names have evaded me right now