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.
“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.