Social Media, Comments, Replies and the LGBT Community

Comments, Posts, Replies, etc….here, there and everywhere.  We post little tidbits, our daily experiences, incidents we have watched or participated in somewhere along the line, etc.  And directly under those posts, on every social platform website that I know of, is a place where readers can leave “comments” and generally “like” the post.  Notice there is never a “dislike” or thumbs down icon?  That baffles me.  I think all sites should go back to the 1-5 stars rating system for posts.  

Social media websites, in my understanding, are for us to communicate and talk to one another – right?  Don’t you think that’s what they are for?  .And if you do not care to hear the “comments” or feedback of other people who are reading your posts there is generally a way that you can either “hide” the comments so that ONLY YOU see them, or so that no one can make a comment or rate a post.  You can also make it so that comments must be “approved” before they show publicly on some social venues.

So, what am I driving at here?  Well, I do my posts to have conversations with people; to sometimes just see what others are doing for the day, what their opinion may be about something I posted, or to get other ideas about something that I did, said or that happened to me.  Often the comments are interesting and give me more fodder for thought.  Sometimes they are stupid and are left by trolls – I ignore or delete the troll comments.  Then there are the comment Gremlins, who just wait for you to post so they can send some negative, derogatory or belittling comments your way.  Guess it just makes them feel good.  But you won’t see the Gremlins posting anything of their own that would give you the idea that they are serious about blogging or putting their own experiences out there because they either don’t have the ability to express themselves well in writing or filming, or are personally afraid of their own Gremlins and can’t take the heat.

I always try to be respectful when posting a comment on someone’s post or blog.  I never post to harass anyone, or to school them, but just to put in my own two cents on whatever they had to share in their post, and perhaps to share MY experience with similar circumstances if they are telling us of an incident in their post.  The idea is to have a conversation…or so I believe.  And I also believe that comments are part of the conversation and do get other people to read the post, and the comments.  Which then gets them into the conversation too.  This makes the original post successful – it got us talking – sometimes about more difficult subjects even!  

Public comments aren’t always just for the original poster’s benefit of the sharing experience, but are for the following audience as well.  They got one idea in the post, and maybe other ideas and views in the follow up comments.

In my last blog I said that I had been holding back on my own writings and videos online because of my not wanting to deal with the negative commenters, gremlins, and outright haters.  That was me feeling vulnerable and allowing my fear to dictate my behavior. But as I said in that last blog I am no longer going to let those negative Nancys ruin my pleasure in writing and vlogging.  And I meant that.  

I personally commented on a Facebook post today which I thought was just contributing to a conversation by adding my different view of the topic and also telling of one of my experiences with that same topic’s longer term outcomes.  I did it out of just basically just simply commenting; never gave a thought to it being seen as negativity – which it  was in a way as I was messaged privately and told that she felt that I was schooling her —  which was definitely NOT in my thoughts or my intentions at all. I respect this particular person and do follow her work and enjoy it. I was merely trying to add to the conversation.   

Her removing my comment because she considered it to be me trying to “school her” just inspired – and compelled – me to write this blog.  Again I will say, my intention was NOT to school her about the topic, but to relate to her MY experience with another side of the topic.  

The poster did direct message me afterwards and explain that she removed the comment because it pertained to something that she had “already addressed” in previous posts.  And I appreciated her further explanation, and the very nice conversation that we had.  She’s a good egg, and an important part of the community in my opinion.  But let me dwell on the “already addressed” part of that for a minute because this is something that actually bugs me a little.  I have encountered this “I posted about it before” thing with a few people.  This is especially encountered on Youtube.  People are like, ” if you want to know what I said about blah blah blah I did a video in 2007  – go look it up!”  I think that’s a lazy ass answer from a vlogger to an interested viewer in my opinion.  And often, on Youtube, it’s said with some snide attitude to the viewers too…not cool at all.  

If a blogger or vlogger doesn’t want to repeat answering a question, or discussing a topic again, then when someone asks they should find the link to the previous piece done about it (if you keep a good index of your work this should be a no-brainer) and perhaps private or pulicly message or email the link(s) to the person inquiring and thank them for their interest in the work, for watching or reading and engaging in the conversation.  In my world, this is the polite and professional way to handle an inquiry for information or opinion on a topic that you may have previously addressed, maybe even in detail, in any previous post whether it be in a written blog or in a Youtube or Vimeo video that you may have done.  

This is also the poster’s opportunity to ask the interested party to also make a comment or do some writing or filming themselves about the topic after they see the poster’s work done on it.  This does a couple of things…it keeps important conversations going, and it inspires more thought all around, it can be the catalyst to get a new person blogging or vlogging, it can also lead to the original post/blog being seen by more people (which is always good) and it can spark new, shoot-off conversations and topics.  

ALL of these things are very important to us in the blogging world.  A good blogger wants to build their audience continuously, and wants to be the flame that starts the fire of good conversation; start the discussion which leads to more good things, like change, making more people aware of the different sides of a topic, and the ultimate of changing someone’s mind – making an ally out of former opposition.  And all of this helps us build community and supports change and growth of individuals and even groups.  

I am all about building more closely knit LGBT community.  I live in a place where it’s more difficult to interact with other LGBT people on any kind of a regular basis – rural America.  There are millions of us living this way, out here in rural or suburban areas where it’s just more difficult to have much of a localized community of LGBT people and allies.  It’s always been more difficult for us living outside of the city life.  So blogging and social media are generally my daily chance to interact with my peoples!  I very much enjoy having conversations, being part of discussions, and knowing that I am not alone in the world with my thoughts.  

My girlfriend and I have to really plan to get out to see other Lesbians when the mood hits us.  Occasionally the local Gay men’s club will put on a Saturday afternoon “Tea Dance” for women only, which is really nice of them, as they do understand that the women seeking the company of other women in our area are without our own club.  There are “meet-ups” but they are mostly down towards Boston, and that means at least an hour’s commute each way.  There is a local meet up that was started in February, but I just got an email notice that it needs a new leader within the next 7 days or it will be taken down from the meet up board – of course it will, they want someone to pay the monthly fee charged for having a Meet-Up page.  I am considering saving the group, but haven’t quite made up my mind.  The other leader quit fairly quickly for some reason, makes me wonder why.  And I tried to contact her but she’s removed her email from the account so I couldn’t even do that.  

So, social media is our friend.  And the internet brings us the news of the LGBT community – nationwide and worldwide, which is good.  We both have our blogs, and we will continue to write because it’s something that we both love to do anyway.  We will be attending Pride events in Portland Maine and possibly in Boston Massachusetts, which are both about an hour from us in opposite directions, in June.  I’m sure I will post video accounts of both events when we go!  In the meantime, I hope to encourage everyone to blog, write, reach out and connect with each other and continue to build community around yourself, the support is needed by everyone in some way or another.  And remember to listen to and mentor those young LGBT people in your life, even in your online connections, and remember to reach out when you need it too!  The community is there, we just need to tighten it up a little!!!Image

As I always say “Rock on!”  ~MainelyButch

Facebook Friends…or not…

I kind of lost a friend today over my inability to live up to her expectations of me as a friend.  I don’t quite understand exactly what happened, but she un-friended me after instant messaging me about my lack of paying attention to her; my lack of phone calls and texts and my lack of her feeling that I did not “care” enough.  I don’t quite get it.  I didn’t really even know this person outside of Facebook, not even a little bit.  She had requested FB friendship a while back and said we had common likes and thought we would make good friends, and she wanted to eventually move to the northeast and wanted info about the area.  Never had we actually met, never Skyped or converse on Yahoo messenger and never did we exchange intimate conversations on life.  And most of all never did we shake on it that we would be buddies until the end. 

I knew I might be onto a wacko when she said to me one time “no one ever sticks around, they are friends with me then they stop talking to me like I don’t exist…” or something to that idea.  That statement she made stuck with me in all of my contacts with her.  What was it about her that drove people away?  I think I figured it out today. It’s her demand that you have to pay attention to her in some way on a very regular basis.  Well, I am not the right person to deal with anyone who is needy…it’s just not part of my nature.  Personally I view overly needy people as a pain in my ass.  Now if someone close to me that I love dearly is in “need” that’s not the same as being “needy” in my opinion.  I am happy to help close friends and relatives and even the occasional general acquaintance out with words of kindness or wisdom, maybe a favor sometimes, but act “needy” and you become a pain in my ass. 

I understand that sometimes people reach out to others for comfort or support and I try to be those things as best that I can. But unless you are related to me or in my close inner circle of friends don’t be bringing me problems all the time that I cannot do a fucking thing to help you solve.  If you are unhappy in your relationship, your housing situation, your location, etc. then YOU have to find the solutions to those problems yourself.  Sure I am up to discuss them maybe once and give you my advice, but let’s not have the same conversation every time we talk or text. 

I friend people on FB out of commonalities, and who I think would be good people to follow, or who would be interesting to know about.  People are amazing creatures.  I value each one individually, and I see each one individually – even when part of one of the groups that I am a member of online. I’m not trying to build up a friends list of thousands, just a few handfuls of really good people; people who can with their life stories perhaps enrich my life experience.  I’d be happy if I managed to meet and have a couple of really good friends, but I am not about putting any expectations or limitations on anyone. 

This particular person who un-friended me would message me or call me once in a while and complain that I never called or texted just to see how her day was.  Honestly?  If I were that interested in furthering our long distance friendship I WOULD have done those things.  I was contented just to keep her on my “casual acquaintance” list and have sporadic interesting conversation with her.  But she wanted more (let me interject that this person is a fellow Butch and not anyone I would be romantically inclined towards)…and how was I supposed to KNOW that in advance of her sending me todays scathing messages and then abruptly jumping off my friend list without even waiting for my reply.  NO, I do NOT sit in front of my computer screen waiting for you to message me….I am busy, life is going on, I go on FB, do my thing and get up and walk away to do something else around my surroundings.  AND right now I am on fucking vacation and not interested in much more than my immediate friends and surroundings!  JEEEEZUS! 

Yes, I may leave FB on my computer screen, running in the background usually, but that doesn’t mean that I am actually ON there.  People…get a life.  Facebook is not the end-all of social interaction – although to some I guess it IS.  To me it is NOT a main feature of my social life.  I enjoy staying in touch with family, friends, YouTubers, fellow group members in various groups, but that in no way mean that I actually TALK, TEXT OR MESSAGE any of them daily….I just follow them and when I am intrigued or the feeling hits me I may initiate conversation or an interaction of some kind. 

In other words, I can be a Facebook “friend” but not your best buddy.  Being a best buddy to me takes time and some common ground.  It takes a person who I truly feel is equal to my own thought processes, who gets me and is as non-demanding as I am.  Who I can reach out to when needed like if I have a question that I think they may have some experience with and could answer for me, and yet who I can leave alone without them feeling that I am somehow abandoning them through non-contact. 

A best buddy knows he/she is a best buddy without even trying or asking to be, but knowing that they just ARE.  I have few “best” buddies, although I do have a good handful of those I would call my buds very easily.  They are those with whom conversation flows easily, who laugh at my bad jokes, who tell me theirs, and who share some common bonds or threads of life.  I like the ease with which I can have these people in my life without making demands on them, without them making demands on me, but with both of us having mutual respect and understanding that life for all of us is sometimes fast, sometimes, slow and many times just happening as we go along.  Sometimes we connect, and sometimes we don’t…but always we managed to catch up somewhere along the way and stay connected to each other’s lives through time and space. 

If you are one who friends me on Facebook or elsewhere online be aware that I am not someone who is going to become a great friend and confidant in any kind of quick fashion.  I am very wary of people, and with good reason (see crazy shit above).  I’ve encountered some real nut jobs online and even met a couple of them in real life and they were even more insane than I could have imagined.  (Another story altogether).   I am careful and if I sense someone is becoming a stalker or has some deranged story of woe and who is going to try to drag me into it or down with them, I am quicker than a rattlesnake to strike that “un-friend” button, change my number and be part of history.

 I’m not one to put up with bullshit, I don’t want to read post after post of your hating on your ex, your blaming your ex for everything, or how horrible your life is since your ex fucked you over (or just fucked you period).  Maybe you think I am being mean, but I’m not, I’m being truthful, and honest. People who tend to do this constantly I first will just “hide” their posts, then upon my periodic “review” of my friends list I will check their page and if they are still up to the cynical postings I will then just remove them from my friends list, especially if it’s just someone I friended along the way over mutual friends or mutual likes, but it never panned out to be much more than a sort  of anonymous FB friendship with no real communication or sharing of ideas, experiences or likes.   I tell it like it is for me and I don’t try to pull any punches, or put anything out there to lead anyone to think anything different.  Not every one of my own posts will be happy go lucky, nor interesting to everyone on my friends list.  But I do avoid going into long (and boring…the longer it is the more boring it is on FB!) monologues of my misfortunes and woes with my ex’s….something I think is just stupid to be posting about.  I want to shake the poster and say “get with it, no one wants to hear or know about your shit…TMI!!! TMI!!! “  If you are thinking tons of negative thoughts search for something positive and post it…THAT is more interesting than hearing about your failed relationship and how you’ll never make it without her – or worse how you think she’s a piece of shit whore who used you…THAT’S crap. 

So everyone who is reading this has some of these kinds of people on their Facebook friend lists.  It’s just the way it is when we all start to intermingle and we let people we don’t really know into these little windows of our lives via Facebook (or other social apps).  I am sure you can see various friends from your own lists flash before your eyes as you were reading my descriptions of issues I have personally had with this platform above.  Do yourself a favor, don’t put up with less than you are worth….pick and choose and it’s your prerogative to be as picky as you want!  It’s your page! Own it!