Be careful where you say you’re from on Facebook

I no longer list Berkeley, California as the place where I’m from on Facebook because in “debates,” people say, “well, of course, Malcolm would say that, look where he’s from. We don’t need him telling people in Georgia what to think.”

I was born at Alta Bates Hospital, but don’t tell anyone.

My family is basically from California, with my late relatives living in Berkeley, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Palo Alto. I think I was in high school (in Florida) when my father told me he could never go back because the farms and orchards had all been ploughed up and turned into developments, the places Pete Seeger said were houses like little boxes all made of ticky tacky and just the same.

I can’t go back either. For one thing, I can’t afford it. For another, I think the state has lost its connection to reality, a connection that always was fairly tenous on a good day.  Sorry, folks, but I really can’t support a state that says illegal immigrants should have a right to vote.

So, in these Facebook “debates,” I suppose people thought I support all the lunacy associated with California these days. During the Vietnam War protest era, I was part of that lunacy because (a) I hated the war, and (b) had an apartment in San Francisco’s Mission District while my ship was in port across the Bay and had trouble anywhere I went in a Navy uniform.

When I was told on Facebook that “they” (the people in the thread) didn’t need a person from a crazy state telling people in the South that he (meaning me) thought the state and federal governments had no right to legislate or otherwise mess up women’s health care, including the right to an abortion, I said, “ladies, I’ve lived in the South longer than anyone else commenting on this thread.”

Huh? I said that I grew up in Florida from the first grade to college and now live in Georgia where my wife was born. We live on a farm that’s been in her family for five generations. They were surprised. They were happy to see that I had changed the town where I’m from to Tallahassee, Florida, and appreciated the fact that I like boiled peanuts, collard greens, mullet, grits, and cathead biscuits.

However, according to their assessment, a California birth certificate meant that even if you left the state at an early age, you were more or less the devil’s spawn and couldn’t possibly go to enough church services to get even with the Lord. If not that, then I was probably dropped on my head in the hospital.

So there it was. Clearly, my identification with California was an albatross around my neck. In the old days (whatever that means) people said Florida really wasn’t truly Southern. My response was that North Florida was/is about as Southern as you can get and that unlike other states in the Confederacy, “we” weren’t conquered by the North during the Civil War. Okay, so we’re overrun by snowbirds every year and from Live Oak to Miami, the state’s been pretty much ruined by developers who’ve paved over everything there that used to be good and created endless sprawl.

But, I digress.

On the minus side, now that I’ve changed my Facebook hometown to Tallahassee, everyone thinks I’m a racist. When they push that view too hard, I mention that the biggest race riots in the country all happened outside the South.

Is there a safe place out there I can claim as my hometown?


Malcolm R. Campbell has written a bunch of novels set in the South, or partly in the South, including the Florida Folk Magic Trilogy.




8 thoughts on “Be careful where you say you’re from on Facebook

  1. I never knew what FB meant by “where are you from.” Does that mean where you’re from now? Where you were from at the beginning? Where you’re from meaning where you’re coming from philosophically? Now it seems as if they’ve changed “Where are you from” to “your hometown.” but it’s the same thing. Where you have your home now is your hometown. Or where you go back to when you think of going home is your hometown. Or where you were born or grew up or where your parents are. Any of those could be hometowns. So I leave it blank. Too much trouble trying to figure out the correct answer.

  2. Surely all of Pat’s versions of ‘where are you from’ are valid.

    I’d try a philosphical ‘where are you from’ maybe, next, Malcolm.

    After that – if the problem still isn’t fixed – maybe try ‘mind your own business’?

    1. I’ve been tempted to put a series of towns in there that I’ve never been to just to see if anyone notices. Who knows, maybe I’ll be from Reykjavík by the end of the day. Okay, I’ve been there if sitting on a plane at the airport counts. Perhaps Saint Peter Port, Guernsey will work.

  3. Yes, that is fun. I have a friend with quite an unexciting UK address who bills himsels as being from Buenos Aires. When I asked him about this he said he had simply plucked a romantic-sounding place at random. And why not?!

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