Sad to leave my favorite organization after 34 years

I left because one of the officers chewed me out on a related private Facebook group in front of nearly a thousand other members. The thread started off decently, then deteriorated into a lecture from her that never addressed the question I initially asked. Of course, I am completely blameless in every possible way (hmm).

Online exchanges tend to lend themselves to a high number of misunderstandings. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s because–other than private groups–10000000 people might be reading the exchange, something that adds a lot of pressure that isn’t there when two people talk over a cup of coffee in a Waffle House.

Yet, as a writer, I’m still amazed at how often the posts that begin with the best of intentions turn into an argument that can’t be saved. I wonder how many “real-life” friendships are destroyed online.

So, I left the Facebook group and then canceled my membership in a related non-profit organization. I still support the organization’s work but see no viable role for me in it if what I experienced in the group represents what management thinks of its members. I feel sad about leaving as well as justified in leaving. I’ve heard a lot of people say this about “real life” as well as online clubs/groups.

Suffice it to say, the “heat of the moment” is always a dicey place for intelligent decision-making. Most of us have been there, in that heated moment where we made long-term decisions that might have been better made a week or two later. I’m still feeling justified in my decision, but a month from now, I might wish I hadn’t made it.

That’s part of being human, I guess.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

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The Toxic Internet

A long-time online friend of mine is leaving Facebook because she’s tired of the toxicity there, among other things. I know what she’s talking about because those there who don’t like your point of view often respond with abusive comments and nasty threats.

My parents used to tell me that if a comment wasn’t inappropriate for the family dinner table, I shouldn’t say it.

Since I still believe that, I notice the toxic comments and slanders that are commonplace on Facebook, the comments sections following news stories on some media sites, and (of course) Twitter. I keep hoping that the people who are talking trash are in a minority, that–as some people say–“the crazies are the only ones who bother to comment” on news stories, posts, and tweets.

What do you think? Are polite, normal, well-spoken people leaving Facebook like my friend, possibly staying but staying out of the crazy threads, or are people in general turning into rude approximations of themselves via online anonymity?

Even though I’ve been online since the CompuServe days, I’m still surprised at the number of people who are willing to say, “Malcolm, you’re a naive piece of shit” in response to my low key comment. What’s that about? People who don’t know me have accused me online of all sorts of things, and I wonder what kind of gall it takes to say such things.

I see the toxicity my friend sees, but I guess I’m being expedient when I say that since I’m a writer, I need to have an online presence. So I stay. I hope that most people online are good people and fight against the toxic comments or find ways to stay out of trouble. Perhaps I am naive because I think that when good people are quiet the bad people end up owning the place.

Malcolm