OK that may sound a little dramatic. Obviously I’m going to log back in again. Facebook has become my way of staying in everyones business without having to actually deal with the person. I like being able to communicate with people from all over the world from the comfort of my living in my pajamas. The idea of having to go out into the world and “people” gives me the hives and I’d much rather stick myself in the eye with a fork (dont quote me on that).
I’ve just come to the point where Facebook no longer serves a valuable purpose for me or one that proves to be productive and good for my overall health. I’m sure in the past year alone have been on the verge of a heart attack more than once. I could argue that I need Facebook for business purposes to stay connected which is true since I do a lot of my marketing on Facebook but the honest truth is most of my time spent on Facebook is not spent doing business or networking. And no matter how many times I try to separate myself from certain topics in certain digital spaces within Facebook I always seem to find myself sucked back in as soon as a trending topic comes across my feed. Because being the Libra that I am I always have to say my peace. I’m working on that.
I have been a member of Facebook since 2007. But I didn’t become a regular user until somewhere around 2009. Prior to that I was on a slew of other community websites. Back then we did not call it "social networking". Going back as far as my freshman year of high school, I have always been an active member of the online community. I got my start on Blackplanet. I like to tell people that I am old enough to remember when I had to go to the public library, scan an actual photo of myself, and then upload it to Blackplanet. Way before camera phones and immediate uploads were a thing.
Over the years I have been blessed and cursed to see mini community websites come and go. Dimesonly, Crushspot, cpixel, myspace and several privately own communities where I was fortunate enough to make friendships that I still maintain to this day. But back then social media, as we call it now, was something completely different. We did not have a lot of the noise that we have now. No one was looking over their e-shoulder to make the PC officers weren’t present to throw our asses in jail if we said something “problematic” or “triggering” as the kids like to call it. We did not have to worry about always being politically correct out of fear of being attacked or dragged. Back then digital life was much more cut and dry. You were either cut out for the work or you weren’t.
I came up in the digital time of chats. Yahoo and AIM chats were king. Only the best of the best survived in those rooms. You had to be cutthroat and have thick skin because it was a guarantee that at some point you were going to be next on the chopping block. Beef was handled differently and very seldom spilled over off-line. If someone pissed us off we would Photoshop their face on a few graphics, played the dozen with them a few times, did a little harassing and maybe a little arguing but when you unplugs the dial-up cable so that your mom could use the phone that is where the beef stayed. Some people made it through and others disappeared. I’ve seen people fake their own deaths and then pop back up months later as if it never happened.
Those were the good all days. A time where you could speak freely without someone coming in your comments and spilling feelings that no one asked for and most don’t truly care about.
Facebook seemed to change all of that...
I have been actively running my mouth on Facebook for years now. I am not doing anything today that I was not doing 10 years ago. The only difference now is that I have a slight following that has continued to grow in size since summer of 2016.
Sometime in August 2016 I did a post with a screenshot of my response to a man who had inquired about what it was I brought to the table to which I responded that I would not be providing him a synopsis of my “resume" and that I was the table. I informed him that he was presumptuous in his assumption that I would even be interested in him in the first place. This post spread like wild fire. It wasn’t the first time that I had went viral, as my business page has gone viral many times over the years prior, but it was the first time that I had gone viral posting as myself on my personal page. That post alone got over 10,000 shares and hundreds of comments. It was overwhelming to say the least. Not too long after that post went viral, I went viral again for addressing Trick Daddy after he made disparaging comments about black women in comparison to white women. That post spread even more amassing over 90,000 shares and even getting a response from Trick Daddy himself (I wonder if he is still looking for me and if im still banned from Miami, tsk). Those two posts alone brought a massive amount of attention to my page and naturally increased my following and my friend list number.
As the months went on I found myself engaging in conversations and discussions that were not necessarily of real importance or value to me but because they were a popular topic and they were trending on my timeline I would indulge in the conversations. Most of these conversations were dealing with social justice, women’s rights activism and if I’m going to be completely honest a lot of it was drama and mess. And although I never intended on being a figure in some of the spaces, because of my outspokenness my page numbers continued to grow. And as we all know the more popular you’ve become, the more haters (for a lack of a better word) are attracted to you.
It was fun. I cannot deny that. But fun it only last for so long.
Mo’ followers, mo problems...
I never wanted to be an activist anything and to be clear I am not. I simply create conversations relating to topics and subjects that matter to me. It was never my intention to be in some of the spaces that I have found myself in over the last three years. I run my mouth for “me” and speak on behalf of myself and if people so happen to agree with me on whatever that topic is that simply means that I am not a lone ranger out here hunting the wolf. Prior to this, I was working heavily on my business.If anything I wanted to be known for my PR and marketing capabilities. I am kind of the shit if you didn’t know. I wanted people to focus on my writing and working with me to grow their brands and position themselves for media placement. That’s what I do.
I got a wake up call in 2014 that sent me over the edge which prompted my random vents on dating and relationships. I guess the tone and delivery of my “non business related” topics appealed to a certain demographic of black woman that I had never really encountered before or knew existed. Like many women before me I was completely ignorant to most of the issues that were being discussed in these circles. I still had my head in the clouds and my nose wide open. It was thick out here. These women were women who were tired of the mistreatment they were receiving from black man, they were tired of walking around in there on victimhood and they were looking for ways to escape and they were looking for someone to be a voice for them where they were afraid to speak because they would not be heard (words from my inbox). I found that I really did have a true passion for helping black women understand why they were having such a hard time getting the things out of life that they deserved. Soon I found myself completely submerging myself into these hard discussions.
I began surrounding myself with women who thought like me and shared similar interest as I did. I began to mingle digitally with women who shared similar messages and shared similar ideas as myself at the time. The more women I added the deeper I found myself submerged in these spaces. It was the first time that I had been able to effectively communicate and have real discussions with other black women on an “intellectual” level. It seemed like a dream come true. But you know what they say, when something is too good to be true it usually is. It eventually got to the point where I decided that I was going to create a group because my posts were attracting so many commenters that I was finding myself continuously being banned after being re-venge reported by someone who’s feelings were hurt because I told them the truth.
Usually this was done by a man but I’m not going to sit here and pretend like women don’t be on that bullshit too. I see you.
I created a group after being pressured by former friend of mine to create this group and this atmosphere for my followers to come and have discussions with me. I didn’t really want to create the group as I felt that I was not prepared or ready for that. I am a Libra and I like for there to be organization and structure. If I was going to create this atmosphere I wanted it to be useful and not just another place for people to come and talk shit and make excuses.
That’s exactly what ended up happening...
A group is only as good as it’s most active members and I am not ashamed to say that my most active members were shady, toxic and had absolutely no interest in self development or doing better. They used my name, the group and my popularity as bargaining tools and weaponized my brand to terrorize, bully and attack people from all angles and for no reason. It got to the point where it was completely out of control and I had no idea how to reel it back in without ruffling feathers.
After having a long talk with one of my friends I decided that I was going to cut the cord and I made an announcement in my group that I no longer was going to allow or accept the groups name to be used as a calling card for drags and drama because I had bigger plans for what I was trying to do. I’m sure you can imagine that this did not sit well with that certain group of individuals who had created such a toxic atmosphere within the group that there were people leaving left and right and I had no idea why. It was only later that I found out from many people that they’re leaving was a result of those individuals never being checked or contained. As a result I had to endure an entire year of backstabbing, backbiting, lies, and everything else you can imagine. To this day some of those same girls can still be found in dark holes of Facebook land speaking my name hoping to get some form of relevance from mentioning me. Needless to say, 2017 was a very rough year for me.
The problem with growing a following whether it’s by design or through strategic planning is that you become this sort of representation for whatever group of individuals that it is following you. These people come to you because they’ve seen something that you've said that they agree with or they something that you said that they don’t agree with and you are either held to certain standards that you never agreed to be held to or you are knocked down off of your horse and beaten until you are practically unconscious.
You are literally at the mercy of your followers. You lose a piece of yourself every time someone hits the follow button because you are now having to monitor the things that you say as well as the things that you do because you don’t want to offend or be the next victim of a vicious drag war. I myself have been the subject of many attacks by individuals I have fallen out with or simply don’t like me because I have the amount of attention that they wish that they had for their own platform.
And it’s not just on smaller individual levels that this kind of thing happens. We see it with Internet celebrities who achieve high levels of popularity through going viral for something that they posted on social media. Suddenly they go from nobody to someone who is being watched by millions of people who can’t help but give their unsolicited opinions on your life. Suddenly, thousands of people think they know everything about your life just by reading one social media status or watching one 60 second clip of you saying something on camera.
For example, recently Cardi B did an interview where she shared how she was less happy now that she was in the public eye. She shared how her newfound fame has opened her up to critiques, hate, and has placed her in a position to where she feels as if her life no longer belongs to her. She went on to say that at times she feels as though she is now living for her fans, which is depressing because she no longer has control over what she says and what she does because one wrong move will affect her ability to take care of her family. Other Internet celebrities who have achieved certain levels of popularity have shared similar sentiments. Even mainstream artists have had to take a break away from social media because of the nonsense that they are constantly beat over the head with by fans and haters. Nicki Minaj had to remove all of her social media profiles and changed her phone number. Rihanna has deactivated on multiple occasions and even Beyoncé only sticks to posting pictures of her husband and her baby. To bad we can’t get the people who need to remove themselves from social media to do the same (coughCHRISBROWNcough).
To be completely clear, I am not blaming Facebook for the issues. Facebook is just the platform. It’s more so the individuals.
“Why dont you just make a new page?”
This sounds like an easy enough thing to do and to some it sounds like a good fix. But I tried that and I came here to tell you that it does not work. The problem is unless you go by a completely different name and opt out of ever showing your face on your new page (which Facebook makes it impossible to do and for good reasons) it is impossible for you to stay hidden for any long periods of time. The same individuals who found you before are going to find you again especially if you are someone who has a tendency to go viral or get a lot of shares or interaction on your page. Some people go to great lengths to find you in your new page on Facebook. Some people are truly obsessed with the lives of others and cant bare to be left on the outside not knowing. They are the ones stalking your page and timeline from blank profiles and pages with cartoons for profile pictures. So creating a new page really does not solve the problem.
But it’s not just in these digital black woman spaces that I was active in that shared this issue. The same kinds of issues could be found within the numerous private groups that I tend to secretly lurk in. Business groups and self development groups all have the same kind of catty drama and toxic energy. Everyone is trying to be smarter than the next person everyone is trying to be the next big thing. No conversation, no matter how intimate it is, is ever truly private. People intentionally try to rile you up in hopes that you say something or do something that they can screenshot, post on their page with a crafty caption and drag you for. I am guilty of doing this myself.
Let’s be real, Facebook has gone from a place where you could come and voice your opinion‘s, and have conversations with your friends to a literal battleground for all of these different subgroups and subcategories of people. There is literally no space on Facebook where you can going to be completely free to speak your mind and say what you wanna say no matter how problematic or non-problematic it may be.
Pause: I think it should be understood that what classifies as “problematic" in it’s self is subjective. Because what’s problematic to one person may not be problematic to another person and it is completely illogical and irrational for you to expect and assume that every single person is going to agree with you, and jump on board with your idea just because you called them problematic or see an issue with something they have presented. There is a seriously dangerous problem with group think and cult following on Facebook. And anyone outside of that group is at danger at any time. It should go without saying that one single person does not hold the answers to all of humanity and no single persons holds the rights to all knowledge or understanding.
Social media in itself has made it very difficult for people to be themselves anymore. It’s interesting because when I have individual conversations with women who follow me on any of my pages I am always surprised to find out that they have a totally different perspectives then some of the people that they are friends with on Facebook. And I have heard way too many times that they are afraid to disagree or offer a different perspective because of the fear of being dragged, screenshot, and harassed. Now, with Facebook having what could possibly go down in history the worst community monitoring system ever people are in fear of losing their accounts or in fear of their business page being attacked with revenge low rankings because someone didn’t like what they posted and decided that they were going to be spiteful and try to get the page shut down.
For people who are actually trying to build brands and use Facebook as more than just a place to vent and rage this is a headache to have to deal with. Right now I am banned for seven days on one of my pages that I use frequently because someone got upset that I restricted their access to my page after seeing them in my comments being disrespectful. Isn’t that some shit? Someone can just come to your page and be disrespectful to you, you address it, they get upset, report your page and the next thing you know you are banned and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Everyone has an opinion and everyone feels they need to be heard...even if that means speaking over you on your own page.
One of the more annoying things for me is when someone goes out of their way to come in to my space and try to argue with me about a point that I’ve made. Usually this is someone who has been on my list or following me for months and although that have never engaged in conversation with me it never ceases to amaze me how boldly they will magically appear to try to correct me or as they call it educate me where they weren't asked to. I cannot begin to count how many times someone has come into my space to try to tell me how I need to word my statuses or what I need to say or do to appease them or a group of individuals that I wasn’t even referencing or speaking to in the first place. The joke usually falls on them because very seldomly do I go off on a wild rant and just post random nonsense. I have a reason for posting the things that I post and I strategically word my post to invoke emotion in some form. I am a writer, that’s what I do. I said what I said and no amount of arguing is going to change what I said. Deal with it.
I’ve been in these innanet streets a long time and quite honestly boss, Im tired...
Years ago many many moons over I was known in digital circles as one of the meanest chicks around. I was nasty. There was about a 4 to 5 year span where I had a profile on every major community website and I was known for coming in and causing hill. There are people to this day who still don’t like me for things that I said or did to them back in 2004 on Crushspot. Much of that was me lashing out and dishing out the anger that I had a side to me or someone else because I refuse to deal with what was really bothering me but we’ll talk about that another time.
In 2006, I disappeared from the Internet all together. I think the only profile I still had up was a MySpace page and I barely got on that. But I didn’t log on to any social media websites, I didn’t interact with anyone from the Internet, I literally disappeared and just lived my life outside of the matrix. I return to the Internet for time in 2009 launching with an entertainment blog and at the time Twitter was the main networking site so naturally I created an account to assist with marketing and promoting my blog. It didn’t take me long to realize that outside of the massive amount of attention that Twitter requires, it was a sea miserable trolls. One of the reasons I stopped using Twitter years ago was because I did not like the emerging drag culture. I decided rather quickly after about a year of being active on Twitter that the atmosphere was simply not for me. I hopped back on Facebook because I felt that it was more structured and because the time my post were literally restricted to just my friends list I had absolutely no drama at all.
When I left my ex-husband into 2013, I backed away from social media again to take some time for self-care. I still did my Obligatory posts in reference to my business and my blog but on a personal level I didn’t really post much on my personal page. I can honestly say that between 2013 and 2015 those were my most peaceful years.
Had I known now what I know then I would have definitely been more selective in who I allow in my space and on my timeline.
On January 1st of this year, after almost two years of having a following of over 10,000 on the personal page that I had been using since I joined in 2007, I had enough and I needed a break. I deactivated that page and moved over to a more quieter page only adding people who I had built a genuine e-friendship with and enjoyed talking to and opting to be more selective in those that I added in the future, opting to put my more controversial conversations on a separate brand page unattached from my personal so that I can maintain some form of peace in my personal of space.
Scrolling my Facebook timeline use to last no more than 30 minutes. The only people that were on my list were fellow entrepreneurs and family members. There isn’t much to argue about when you’re talking about business. These days scrolling my timeline is like running through a field full of buried mines. You never know which post is going to be the post that you like or comment on that’s going to create a shit storm. I am ashamed to disclose the amount of hours that I have calculated dedicated to arguing with someone who I will more than likely never see or deal with off-line because our social circles would never cross paths (sorry, it is what it is). And no matter how many times I try to weed out certain types of posts by unfollowing and snoozing people who continuously post things that I may not particularly be interested in discussing anymore something always seems to fall through the cracks.
Just like high school you have your digital groups of individuals sectioned off feeding off each other‘s energy to see who can cause the most damage before someone bursts. You’ve got your hoteps. Your sheteps. Your feminists. You’ve got pick-mes in the far right corner of the lunch cafeteria. You’ve got the anti-men and and anti-women groups. You’ve got the artists. You’ve got the entrepreneurs. You’ve got 50/11 other different small subgroups of Black folks all crammed together in one small digital space all competing to be heard over the next person. All competing to be the top dog and properly crowned king and/or queen.
And don’t get me started on the click bait post putting gingers at war with one another for the sake of going viral continuously being reposted in full faux outrage. Because let’s be honest, it is far too simple to simply not share and draw attention to the ignorance but instead I can scroll my timeline and see the same post re-posted by 10 different people within an hour. All upset.
Meanwhile, I just want to post horrible memes and make jokes every now and again without someone busting in my comments like kool-aid man with a long list of FYI’s and violations that Ive somehow made.
Having to continuously make a conscious effort to analyze and analyze again everything that you want to post no matter the context or content is extremely exhausting especially when a platform that was created for fun.
Right now Facebook has me missing the good old Internet days of social networking. Take me back Myspace. I promise, I’ll be good. Until then, I’m logging the hell off.
Owner of Love My Black, LLC + Eighty5OH8 -Award Winning Blogger/Author | Viral Troublemaker | Mother of One | Brand and PR strategist