The Trouble With Quibbles: A Study in Political Intolerance (UPDATED)

banned

Well, the big name writer who loves Hillary Clinton and preaches a lot about how those on the left need not to “trash” each other’s candidates (and will stomp you if you criticize Hillary in his threads, though somehow her supporters who say nasty things about Bernie don’t seem to get stomped) has unfriended me on Facebook. Again. This is, I think, the fourth time he’s booted me in the past six months, and because I actually really like and respect him (feelings clearly not reciprocated), previously I’ve just sent him a fresh friends request each time, which he’s then ultimately accepted. Not going to bother this time; maybe I’m learning to take a hint.

Why did he boot me? Was it because of the article I posted citing the actual history of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s relationship with the Children’s Defense Fund and the Clintons’ horrible record in the war on poverty? Was it the essay by black writer/preacher/civil rights activist Shaun King defending Bernie Sanders’s exceptional record on black issues and civil rights? Was it because I posted a funny meme that satirized the two candidates’ position on the issue of “Jazz?”

I dunno.

I don’t think he’d tell people not to criticize (as opposed to insult) his candidate, because his self image is plainly that he is fair and open to dialogue. I also don’t think he’d say people shouldn’t joke around and satirize her, because his self image is that he is a defender of free expression who has a great sense of humor. But I think he’s hypervigilant and overly sensitive to things that he doesn’t want others seeing (particularly solid, critical facts about his candidate that may “trash” her shiny veneer even more than nasty insults about her), and he’s like a twitchy young gunslinger who’s too fast on the draw at any perceived slight.

I may wind up following him again, because I often enjoy his posts (when they’re not just screed after screed telling people not only how to behave on his wall but on theirs). And I’ll miss our virtual friendship because I do think highly of him and I’ve enjoyed our interactions. But I’m never going to censor my own damn speech just for his sake, and if he’s such a delicate hothouse flower that he can’t countenance our political disagreements, that’s too fucking bad.


I posted the above on Facebook, and naturally people started asking who I was talking about. I said I wasn’t going to name him because I wasn’t calling him out, I was just citing his behavior to make a point. But I did say folks could message me privately and guess, and I’d let them know if they got it right. I had a feeling that his imperious behavior would be immediately recognizable to anyone who regularly sees his posts.

Twelve people guessed. Eleven got it right.

One of the eleven shared with me a thread on his wall in which a woman calmly and politely critiques Hillary Clinton on policy and the writer snidely asks her if she’s a Republican shill or being paid by the GOP. So much for the elevated dialogue he’s allegedly promoting.

I’m still not looking to call him out or start a feud or anything, and he may have booted me for a different reason. And he has a right to control his friends list any way he likes. So if you mention him directly or badmouth him in a comment, I won’t let the comment post. None of this piddly stuff really matters, when you get down to it, and I just wish we could all treat each other at least a little bit better.

Oh, and SANDERS 2016!!!

UPDATE: I’ve been hearing from more Sanders supporters who claim they were booted from the writer’s friends list because they either defended Sanders on his wall or posted political stuff he disagreed with on their own. At the same time, he posts rants about how some people are obnoxiously complaining that he shouldn’t post whatever he wants to. So be careful what you say on this guy’s wall, or even your own, lest he transport the whole kit n kaboodle of you to their engine room. Er, I mean off his friends list.

 

This Is Why I Don’t Like You

Last night, I saw that I was going to lose another friend.

This was vexing, but not as vexing as it might have been. The friend is a friend on Facebook, a friend I have some positive feelings about, but also a friend I don’t actually know, even by the standards of social media. She’s a writer, and I’ve enjoyed her posts and had an occasional bit of casual interplay with her, but that’s about it. So, little lost, except perhaps the opportunity to actually become friends down the line through further interaction.

The reason I’m losing her as a Facebook friend? Because she’s switching from her personal account, which is limited to 5,000 friends, to a fan page, which has no such limits. By doing this, she opens up her page to many more potential readers she can talk to, and hopefully sell books to, which is completely understandable.

The thing is, the key words in that last sentence are “talk to.” She can talk to them. And when she does, they can even respond, getting into pleasant chats on her page about whatever it is she wanted to post about. Nice, right?

Fuck that.

What’s lost by doing this is the very thing that elevates Facebook to something more than solipsistic whining and self promotion: community. My writer friend is removing herself from the community of friends and acquaintances she has built so far in order to better advertise her brand. Before making this change, she could see the posts made by all her friends, and they could see hers, and many a discussion could occur. Now, community dialogue will be replaced with authorial monologue.

Her current friends will be automatically converted into fans. Facebook will add her page to the things they have “Liked” without letting them know it’s doing so, or that there has been a change. They’ll still see posts from the writer in their feeds, as if she is still their friend, but she’ll see nothing they post unless they comment on the things she posts on her page. They will be diminished from equals to advertising targets who’ve been opted in without their consent.

Me, I’ll probably un-Like her. Nothing against her, but I accepted her friendship in the first place not because I’m a fan, but because she was a peer I thought I might like and learn something from. I thought she might become an actual friend. It happens. Now, I’m forced to be a fan, and as interesting as her posts might be at times, apparently my posts, and the posts of all her other friends, are worthless to her. Frankly, I’m on Facebook for dialogue, not monologue.

I interact daily with people who found me through my writing, and with writers I’ve been reading most of my life, people who entertained me even as they taught me bit by bit via osmosis how to write. Some of them have become pretty good virtual friends, commenting frequently on my posts even as I comment on theirs. Am I interested in the latest news about their work? Yep. But that’s not the gold in them thar Facebook hills. The gold is the friendship, not the marketing.

The irony is that not only is there a better way to deal with Facebook’s lousy friends list limitation, but switching to a fan page is going to actually narrow the field of contact she’s going to achieve with her fans.

If she’s at the friends limit, all she has to do is enable Subscriptions to her account. This would allow an unlimited number of fans to subscribe and follow her posts, just as they’ll be doing on her fan page, but it would keep her current friends list as is and fully interactive. And subscribers would all see everything she wants them to see.

By switching to  a fan page, however, she makes herself subject to Facebook’s latest innovation, which is severely limiting the number of fans who actually see any post she makes and then charging her an elevated fee structure so that more of her fans will see her posts. She’s giving up her community of friends and fans to instead pay Facebook to advertise to her fans.

Have I said “fuck that” yet? Well, I ‘m saying it again.

Introducing Sydney Rhame… (Song of the Week, 5/21/2012)

Before we get to the good stuff (and it is very good stuff), I wanted to let everyone know that my “Tim Byrd” account on Facebook has been disabled for some arbitrary, unexplained reason, possibly forever. Apparently they do this sometimes. I’ve sent in a request that they reconsider, but apparently they also take weeks to get back to you at all. So if you are (or were) my friend on Facebook, please feel free to befriend my “Doc Wilde” account which was established to promote my books, but which I’ve never really used. For the foreseeable future I’ll be interacting on there. I miss all my friends. (UPDATE: After nearly three weeks, and repeated requests for action from me, Facebook ultimately enabled my account again, all without having ever actually contacted me, in any way, to explain).

Now, on with the music.

There seems to be something in the water here in beautiful Decatur, GA. The town is a font of musical genius, and acts ranging from the Indigo Girls and Shawn Mullins to Sugarland and the Civil Wars have their roots here. Michelle Malone, who I’ve raved about a few times on the blog in the past, is another wonderful example.

On her way to greatness is Decatur’s Sydney Rhame, who is only thirteen and already a singing, songwriting sensation. This week’s song is her cover of Brett Dennen’s great “Sydney (I’ll Come Runnin’),” which I’m going to post two versions of. The first is a live performance, and I love its vitality and what Sydney does with her voice during the song. The second is a “studio” version, which Sydney made on a Mac using GarageBand, presented in a video she made using iMovie. This second video was shot around Decatur (or “the hood” as some unenlightened folk have called it), and you can see not just the charismatic young singer bouncing around but quite a few views of our great hometown.

If We Shadows Have Offended…

So I lost another friend on Facebook.

He’s a writer, and a fellow pulp fan, and I’d enjoyed knowing and occasionally interacting with him. I liked seeing what he had to say, and what he had going on.

I knew he was a conservative, while I am not. The fact that he holds to certain ideas didn’t make me think less of him as a person, it just made me wonder how he could reconcile those ideas with observable reality. But we all have our filters and our failings and our blindnesses, and I hoped that he, and the many other right-wing friends I have, wouldn’t allow disagreement with ideas to lead to discord between us as people. That has happened, of course, and people have fled my friends list over such issues, and even issues more trivial. The game writer S. John Ross unfriended me and actually blocked me on Facebook for a single polite comment disagreeing with his opinion of Johnny Cash. Talk about the courage of your convictions.

My attitude is usually that a friend lost in this way is no friend worth having, and I tend to operate on the principle of “If I offend you, that probably just makes us even.”

But anyway, I hadn’t seen anything from this friend for a while, and I grew concerned that maybe he was having health problems or something. So I visited his page, where I found that we were no longer friends. I naturally suspected the reasons for this, but I sent him a message and asked why he’d unfriended me, telling him that if I had offended him it hadn’t been because I intended to.

This was his response: Continue reading