The other day I wanted to add an entry to the Vallarta Birders group here on Facebook. Though it isn’t the most numerous group, in terms of members, I still thought it would be a useful platform to use to present what I had in mind, because it has a lot of foreigners in it, and they would be my target.
But when I started to look for the group, I couldn’t find it. At first I thought I just remembered the name wrongly, and started to search in alternative ways. But nothing came up. And this also happened when I eventually tried to search for content to an entry I had made myself.
It didn’t take long, though, to then understand what was happening (guessing, I know), because a few days earlier, I had told the woman I love (still) some truths, she didn’t like to hear, and she obviously got so mad at me that she decided to not only delete me as her Facebook friend but also to exclude me from this bird group that she happens to be the administrator of.
My motivation for writing this entry has nothing to do with this as such. I understand if she got upset, and I might even appreciate her reaction on a personal level, because it gives me hope that she after all has some feelings for me, if she decides to react this strongly.
I don’t know exactly how they have implemented it, but I expect that the entries I have made will still be visible to the remaining members of the group. And this makes me wonder what will happen if someone comments on my entry now, or wants to ask me something directly. The alternative, that the whole thread has been deleted, sounds a bit too extreme, doesn’t it..? But of course there also exists the possibility of the solution, as often used in online forums, that only my entries have been blacked out, leaving the thread amputated and the context lost (the poorest one).
Whichever, the fact is that Facebook by allowing this, is ignoring the democratic process and the right to free speech. Nothing less! Without any explanation or dialogue it is possible to silence away any of those you as an administrator don’t like anymore, for whatever personal reason. It’s not acceptable.
Obviously there should exist a procedure where the person who decides to take such a drastic step, as to exclude a member, has to confront the ‘condemned’ and explain the reasons why, allowing for an understanding to be worked out. And of course there should be an easily accessible way for this member to complain to Facebook when such an understanding is not reachable. Saying this, admitting that I’ve not investigated if such an appeal option already exists. But even if it does, it should not be allowed to convict without a trial, which is what I’ve been victim to in this situation.
But then maybe some of you are thinking: Ah, but Facebook is just a private initiative, the group you entered is also just a private initiative. Bad luck if you’re excluded. It’s their right. Go create your own groups if you’re not welcome in the others.
But that is a very cynical and short-sighted way of looking at it, if you ask me. By growing to be the de facto global platform through which ideas and opinions are flowing in the world of today, it is no longer valid to claim lack of moral responsibility due to being a private enterprise. I totally agree with the idea of having a single platform on which the whole world can unite. The more united the better. But it has to work on conditions that are based on a good moral foundation that corresponds with the very same idea, we are talking about here: To unite.
Some might say I’m lying, when I say that I don’t consider myself to have a big ego. I agree that I do have an opinion about a lot, and often a strong way of expressing it, but I honestly don’t think it is about emphasizing the importance of myself as a person. In my ideal world we all contribute to the wholeness by that which we are best at. And if this wonderful woman, who created this Facebook group, has done it good, I don’t see why I should try to compete with her. I prefer to join in, adding to, and focus my energy on what I’m good at.
I’ve done nothing wrong according to the guidelines as a member of a Facebook group, and should of course therefore, per definition, not be subject to an exclusion or other kind of sanction. It’s as simple as that.
You then might ask, in the specific situation, if it would really have made a difference, if she had been forced to communicate with me before deciding to exclude me? Perhaps not. I mean, I probably would have decided to leave the group voluntarily to not upset her even further, but that is totally irrelevant to the problem. Imagine if we all could be convicted based on emotional impulses of the leaders who find us inconveniently present in their lives. We’ve been there before, haven’t we, and it is not a nice world to live in.
So Facebook, if uniting the world is really your main mission, please listen to my request. And if you could implement the changes with retroactive effect, starting like a week ago, I shall be the first to complement and congratulate you!