Doubleplusungood


Today I got suspended from a secret Facebook group for two weeks.

A self-described secret group, it proposes to be “a resource for all writers—with the exception of cis men—of all backgrounds and experience levels, to connect, network, ask questions, and learn from one another,” and states it “is okay to tell people about the existence of the group…without directly linking to it.”

I wanted to put that right up front, least I be accused to violating some blood oath, secret handshake, or gang hand sign.

Every member of this group was required to read an updated group policy–and agree with it–to be allowed to stay part of the super secret writers group.

I didn’t like everything I read.

I wanted to think about it, some of it bothered me. Some of it ruffled my feathers. Some of it was repressive and proscriptive and controlling and I needed to think about whether I could abide by it. I needed to think about whether I could live with some of those rules.

It said I had to “be willing to accept criticism and critique of ideas or articles posted” to that group. I had no problem with that.

The part that stated “critiques of power imbalances are important” and “provocative debate” is valued–I liked that a lot.

It enforced strictly gender neutral language. I get that maybe the gender binary may be considered an out-dated idea, and I balk at the forced use of gender neutral language, but I’ve been around long enough to pick my battles and this one’s not a battle worth fighting. I can live with it.

Then this:

“The group prohibits the removal or deletion of posts or comments by members…it is silencing and disrespectful to delete your own post or comment thread (taking others) words along with it. DELETION OF POSTS AND COMMENTS WILL RESULT IN AN IMMEDIATE TWO-WEEK REMOVAL SUSPENSION. Subsequent deletions will result in a permanent ban from the group.”

Wait, what? I can’t take down my own words, posts, or commentary?

That I have a problem with. I wanted to think about that. For my hesitation and questioning of the all-mighty mods, I was suspended.

“…we are suspending you for two weeks. Your negative comments toward the policy and purpose of the group indicate that this is not the group for you. If after two weeks you wish to indicate a change of heart/mindset, you can return.”

Apparently “provocative debate” is okay, unless it challenges The Policy.

The Policy goes full frontal George Orwell doublethink, saying suspensions are regarded as a step towards a members reconciliation with the policy. A chance for a member to “step back, take a break, rethink, and then talk about rejoining…”

Guilty of crimethink, there is a two-week opportunity to crimestop.

Big Brother is watching. 

By the end of the day, I’m banned, forever.

“Collectively, the mod team will not expend anymore energy or time engaging you.”

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Removing my offending posts would violate The Policy, but I can’t access them anymore to offer them up verbatim. In the world of this one Facebook group, I’ve become an Unperson.

I’m aware this post may have a ripple effect, since so many people are members of multiple groups, and I may be made to disappear from the ranks of other linked groups. But, I hope the ripple extends in an entirely other direction, sparking others to speak up and not tow a line that excludes men and yet still manages to regulate the speech of women , especially those questioning authority.

 

not so great expectations

I recently found myself trying to talk an Executive team into allowing their employees the use of Facebook and Twitter. There’s a ton of already written about using social media for brandingbuilding community, fund raising, etc. I’m not inventing the wheel here. But they are afraid people will waste time on Facebook and Twitter.

Of course they will, especially if you expect them to. Especially if you tell them NOT to waste time on Facebook or Twitter or Bebo.

In my experience, everything flows downstream. People act the way you treat them, the way you expect them to.

There’s also a ton of documentation already written about that as well – particularly in educational settings. If you expect the child to fail, to be disruptive, etc. there’s a good chance s/he will. And vice versa. If you expect them to shine, that’s probably going to happen as well.

The thing is, nine times out of ten, you get what you expect.

Growing up, I worked in restaurants. The Jolly Swagman was an Australian restaurant on Long Island.  It was a family run business and they treated all of us like part of the family. Staff meals were delicious, the same fine food that was served to the customers.  Nothing was off limits, we could eat or drink anything we wanted. I worked as a prep cook, spending a lot of time shelling cooked lobsters and crab into two giant sinks. One for the delicious cooled cooked meats and one for shells. The first night, as I worked, I ate my fill of chilled lobster, well within eye-sight of the manager.

That was the first and only time I abused their generosity.

Years later, I found myself working at an Italian restuarant and piano bar on 52nd Street and 2nd Avenue. I was in desperate need of a job, food, help. It was a bad time in my life, a time I should have been grateful for any hand up. Also a small family business, but here, staff meals were restricted to pasta dishes and on the very first day, I was told I’d be fired if I was caught eating a single shrimp.

We were all reminded of that with regularity.

And so, I stole pounds of shrimp and bottle after bottle of wine. Not that I couldn’t afford the wine. I could, I made pretty good money there. And of course, I was a much bigger drunk by the time I got to 52nd Street than I was on Long Island,  but I got so much pleasure out of stealing something from someone who expected me to, who was waiting to catch me before they even met me and was ready to punish me the minute they did. If they already thought I was stealing and were just waiting to catch me, well, if the shoe fits, I might as well wear it, no?

Social media is a well designed time-suck but the point is, the time-wasting part is an administrative issue. People act the way you expect them to. I’m convinced that’s why I’ve never been in a Radio Shack, anywhere, where the staff is helpful or happy. Or why I’ve never been in an Old Navy where they weren’t.

Everything flows downstream.

another little piece o’ my heart

I got a chance to read some of the dirtygirl story in public last night at the inaugural of the new reading series, Sex Worker Literati. It was packed. People were sitting on the floor. A dozen or so had showed up for me personally (I sent out two hundred invitations. I’m going to pretend that that’s a pretty good percentage). Some friends I’d expected didn’t make it. On the other hand, old high school acquaintances who’ve become new friends through the actual “social” part of social networking engines like Facebook, did, with progeny in tow.

It was all a little intimidating.

I can talk in front of strangers about nothing for hours. I can talk in front of a bunch of alcoholics about myself forever. But my writing, I want to say “my art” but that feels so very pretentious, exposing that to strangers or to friends, that’s a horse of a different color entirely. Every time, every single time I let you read my work is like handing over my newborn baby and hoping you don’t decide to put a pillow over her face. Reading my work to you is a little harder than that, more like taking a circular saw to my own chest, wrenching open my rib cage and letting you poke around in my heart for a while. Really poke.

I labor over every single word, each piece of punctuation hopefully creates a rhythm you can dance to. I write about the personal, in ways that take me to the vulnerable. Every time, every single time you read what I write, it means I’ve unlocked my heart just a little, left a door ajar, a trail of breadcrumbs down through the maze of locked doors and secret passageways.

I stood in a crowded bar last night and told you part of my story, a part that doesn’t make me look particuarly good, or sound like a nice person at all. I let you see a piece of my heart from a time it wasn’t safe to have a heart at all.

I never felt more beautiful.

There is something to be said for following your bliss.

 

moods

The thing about moods is they’re so mercurial, at least mine are.  The other day I was moved to tears of happiness talking about the farm. By the end of that day I was storming around the office looking for someone to push into oncoming traffic.

Okay, granted, I’m no longer on any mood stablizing medications and that may have been an ill advised decision. Sometimes the mood swings are just that, my mood swings. I’m a moody bitch. I get it.

Writing is a mood changer. I’ve been writing the other blog, thedirtygirldiaries.com, about the wild and crazy days of Times Square and NY in the 70’s & 80’s. Those were also the wild and crazy days that almost killed the Jodi.

I’ve been reading everything I can, remembering, going through photos, watching films and documentaries. I’ve been looking for that tear in time. I want to see it all with sober eyes so I can tell you what it was like to be there then. It’s a hard thing to remember.  Hard because of the blackouts and the insanity;  hard because I’m trying to remember things that happened when I was busy trying to forget everything.

I’m always surprised when someone from that time & place shows up alive, it was that bad, it was that much of an otherworld kind of existence, a parallel universe. There’s a smattering I know today that are okay and a few that are well, still a little stuck.

And then there is Facebook and the way you can find the most unlikely people.  And suddenly, there was E. I don’t know how to refer to him, we weren’t really friends.  He managed the bar I worked in that his father owned. We were junkies together.  I was his sister’s friend, his father’s lover. And his brother’s, and his. How are we all not dead?  How is it that he and I are alive and intact enough to be able to navigate a keyboard? And what is that background in his Facebook profile picture that looks suspiciously like a prison? Can you get Facebook in prison?

I was desperate to get out of my skin then, to not be wherever I was, to kill anything that resemebled a feeling. So I guess it’s no surprise that writing about the then, remembering who I was, can plunge me back into a dark, violent mood.  And I guess I need to be grateful, that I’m on this side and darkness is a mood these days, and something I know will pass.

I didn’t know that then.