Leaving the Group

Leaving the group.

Remember when you were a teenager? I do. I remember my parents telling me that if I attended a gathering where things started to get “out of hand” or “go awry” or if I were uncomfortable, to leave. Get myself out of the situation. At different stages of life, that could mean different things. As a teenager, maybe people were getting too rowdy. Or maybe I had the choice of whether or not to get into a car with someone I didn’t really trust. In college, maybe there were drugs present that I didn’t need to around. Maybe there was a mob mentality about something, and people were about to do something they wouldn’t have done if they were alone.

Recently, I found myself in a virtual group that started to scare me. By “virtual,” I mean it was the Facebook page for a group I joined long ago. According to the Facebook page of this group I remember as always quite civilized and respectful, the goal of the page is stated to be “to build a network of [members]…to share resources and opportunities.” It states clearly in the group rules that there is to be no hate speech or bullying. “Communicate with courtesy and respect,” it says.

Imagine my surprise when communication on this same page recently turned quite ugly and disrespectful. People are calling each other names. People are addressing members in ways I wouldn’t address anyone. People are using profanity left and right as a means of conveying their viewpoints, instead of using respectful speech.

Don’t get me wrong. Generally speaking, I don’t care about profanity, but I don’t like when it is hurled at someone…especially in a setting where we should be treating each other with respect. Imagine hurling obscenities at your coworkers in a professional setting. Or imagine your children hurling them at their teachers in the classroom setting. I don’t know about you, but the school wouldn’t even have to punish my child; she would be in big enough trouble at home.

I’ve seen kids on sports fields and sports courts in recent years sassing referees and gesturing after what they believe is a bad call, and every time, I think, “Holy smokes. My daddy would have walked out there and snatched me off that field.” I’ve been watching when my daughter was playing high school sports, and when a girl behaves poorly or with poor sportsmanship on the field, I’ve thought, “My daughter’s coach surely knows that I would take her home right now if she acted that way on the field.”

That brings me back to my group. Apparently, a lot of people don’t feel the same way. They think respecting others is no longer important. They think it’s OK to get out there and say whatever you want and say it however you want to whomever you want, without regard for others. They think it’s OK to use profanity in every sentence when they are trying to make a point. In this particular group, someone actually typed out these words to another member recently: Sit the hell down. 

And that’s when I knew I needed to leave the group. That was that moment my parents had warned me about. When things start to go awry or you are uncomfortable, leave. So I left the Facebook page of a group I’ve been a member of most of my life. It broke my heart, because I really wanted to try to make a difference. I’m really good at listening to other people’s viewpoints. I know everyone doesn’t feel the same way about everything…and I think that’s OK. That’s what makes the world go around. But I will not tolerate disrespectful behavior. I do not want to be a part of a group that communicates that way.

If it had been a one off situation, I could have gotten past it. But it wasn’t. People were accusing each other of horrible things. Worst of all, no one was hearing anyone else. And as soon as I saw “sit the hell down,” I was done. I left the Facebook page of a group I’ve loved for years…a group I have dedicated time and financial resources to…a group that, for me, was always a soft place to land, a place I made lifelong friends. I had to leave the Facebook page. I hope the behavior of those people is not indicative of the members of the group as a whole. Is civility dead?!?!

I keep getting messages from friends who are still in the group. I’ve received six or eight from people who have left it too, but I’m getting messages showing me screenshots of some of the posts, and I’m brokenhearted. I’m disappointed. I don’t want to be a part of a group that behaves that way.

So I left the Facebook group. I had to. My parents would be proud that I chose not to participate in the insanity, because that’s what it looked like to me. It looked like a bunch of spoiled, entitled, participation-trophy kids who think they’re the smartest things on the planet, and they’re probably 25 years old. They think their education makes them knowledgeable about life, I guess. At 53, I know that’s not true. They know very little, but they’re not even smart enough to realize that yet. When they’re 53, hopefully, they will look back and realize just how incredibly rude they were.

I’m out.

 

 

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14 Comments

  1. I feel your pain and salute your convictions. Keyboard warriors, as they are labeled, are really keyboard LOSERS in most instances. That said, removing yourself is likely a missed opportunity for you to be the voice of reason in this group and your absence may equate to punishment for those good people involved. I KNOW what and how your parents taught you to treat and have respect for others, but I also believe they taught you to not be a quitter .

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    1. You totally get it. I have decided to go about it in a different way. I looked at the group, and the loudmouth, disrespectful ones were all young people from the “participation-trophy generation.” It’s not the leadership of the group doing this. In fact, they are trying to shut down the disrespectful behavior…to no avail. Trust me when I say I put in my two cents several times before I left the Facebook group. But there’s no reasoning with unreasonable people. Sane people can’t rationalize with insane people. I’ve decided to take a different approach. I’ve gathered my friends who are members of the same organization, and we are starting a letter-writing campaign to the national leadership of the group. I’ve enlisted folks from several states. The group was founded on Christian ideals, and now we’re having to listen to all this baloney. We will defeat them from another angle. And if it comes down to it, we will withdraw our substantial financial support till we are heard by leadership. I already have some of the leadership team in my corner, so that helps.

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  2. Kelly,
    I completely understand. It seems as though the world we once knew is quickly fading away. I have so enjoyed your Blogs and hope you will continue with these.
    Keep smiling,
    Elaine (Mimi) Bailey

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    1. So sweet of you, Mrs. Bailey. I will keep writing for sure, because it is my best outlet for the frustration and disappointment I feel. Thank you for being a loyal reader.

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  3. Many years ago, I became a moderator of a computer gaming website. Later, the site owner made me an admin. I played no favorites and deleted disrespectful posts from both sides. The site owner decided to add a no holds barred sub-forum after I had been an admin for several years. My philosophy from the start was if it the site became something where I would be embarrassed to have my daughter visit, I would leave. Basically, the site owner turned the sub-forum into a flame war board. I left. I didn’t say good-bye or otherwise indicate I was leaving. People thought I quit in a rage. I didn’t. I felt the site went from a very respectful site to a very disrespectful site. Not only that, but many others left as well.

    In terms of the Facebook group, the admins and moderators could simply ban the offenders and make it clear such behavior isn’t tolerated. Seen a few groups where that happens and if the admins and moderators do their job, it’s nipped in the bud. I have also seen groups where the admins and moderators do nothing and I tend to leave those groups.

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    1. Wow! What an experience! But I love the way you looked at it…”if the site became something where I would be embarrassed to have my daughter visit.” If only other people could think that way. And yes, the admin could handle it, but I’m sure they think they will be called names and accused of terrible things…you know how that goes.

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      1. I don’t remember how he worded the board, but to me it was obvious he wanted to create a flame board. The one thing our site had going for it before this board was created was the respect most community members had for each other. I routinely got called out by both sides for being unfair. It was a thankless job, but once respect went out the window, I decided it was time to spend my time on other things. I think he thought it would increase numbers, but we lost a lot of people who were unhappy with the new board.

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