Facebook: Friend or Foe?

by Texas Homesteader

Recently on my Facebook page I shared a story that I read about how much food is wasted in this country – everything from harvest waste or culls in the field to grocery store waste.   I commented that it was a shame that more edible & in-date food destined for the dumpsters for whatever cosmetic reason couldn’t be used instead to feed hungry people.

Many of my followers chimed in that it was a shame indeed. But one person was angered by the story for some reason that I still don’t quite understand.  As a matter of fact he was indignant and abrasive to many various commenters.

Now I love FB and I typically enjoy it immensely. But this internet troll incident got me wondering if public social media sites like Facebook are really a friend or a foe?

A particularly unpleasant Facebook interaction with an internet troll makes me wonder why we can't just support each other - the similarities & the differences #TexasHomesteader

What Is An Internet Troll?

Wickipedia defines an internet troll as: “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.”  It certainly sounded like the situation here.

Although I’d never personally dealt with a troll situation before I know you don’t ‘feed’ the trolls by trying to reason with them. But I made rookie mistake #1 – I did.

I tried to appeal to his sense of reason & compassion, but all were met with scorn and out-lashing of anger.  Then I made rookie mistake #2 – I reminded myself of the rule when I posted “Don’t.  Feed.  The.  Trolls!” which just made him explode in anger. (I take responsibility for this one, I should have never posted that statement) 

Dealing With Internet Trolls

So at first I tried just hiding the abrasive comments but this guy was blasting one right after another, even sending hateful FB messages to me behind the scenes. So I decided to just block him from my page altogether.  Now I realize I don’t know this man nor am I aware of the trials or struggles he deals with with in his own life – I don’t know his personal battles. Perhaps people react strongly and negatively about a topic that has affected their lives somehow and for whatever reason this was a trigger for him. He has been in my prayers that his heart receives comfort and that I receive forgiveness for anything I may have done to contribute to his anguish… 

But It’s My Facebook Page!

But this was my FB page! I should not only be allowed to post about topics I deem appropriate but also be expected to protect my followers from such verbal abuse.   In the end I think I did the right thing by blocking him. But I hate the discomfort I felt over the whole situation.  It has certainly made me take a different view of our blog’s FB page. 

For as long as it’s been active I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with followers of our page. They’ve always been kind and supportive.  As a matter of fact I feel a warm friendship with them and I enjoy sharing what we’re doing here at the our Homestead and asking for advice when I run up against something that puzzles me. 

Why The Anger Out There?

But because of this hateful blast I’ve pulled waaaaay back from interacting with my dear followers.  I guess it just seems uncomfortable now. If I can so strongly offend someone simply by addressing hunger in our nation, what the heck else could I say and inadvertently stir up someone’s ire enough to pummel me verbally and very publicly on my own FB page? 

Perhaps it’s just a shadow of the bigger problem out there. This anonymity of the internet that allows us to so easily hit our fellow social media interactors below the belt and then simply walk away.

Dividing Lines In The Sand

It frustrates me sometimes when I see so much “Us Versus THEM” in the media these days. Democrats vs Republicans, North Versus South, White Versus Black. Almost every segment of our culture seems to require a bold dividing line in the sand to separate US from THEM. Why?? 

Those on the other side of ‘The Line’ are our brothers & sisters.  We’re all different and we live different lives.  I have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and so do you!  Our views might be the same, and they might not.  Things we value might be the same, and they might not.

We’re All Different

  • I love a steak but you’re a vegan?  That’s OK
  • I hate jogging but you enjoy a good 5K?  That’s OK
  • I love to garden but you love to shop?  That’s OK!

The point is we are not all alike, and by golly that’s OK.  As a matter of fact our diversity is a beautiful thing.  We’re all inhabitants of this big blue planet we call earth. So why not endeavor to practice civility and empathy more often with each other. 

If I see something on your wall that I don’t agree with, I’ll move on down the newsfeed until I find something that interests me. And I hope you’ll do the same. We’re not all alike, and that’s a wonderful thing. Let’s embrace humanity for once – the similarities & the differences – and just learn a little tolerance.  I pray for a kinder, gentler nation. What a wonderful world that would be!

~TxH~

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30 thoughts on “Facebook: Friend or Foe?

  1. Greg Hill

    Hello Tammy,
    What a subject you have written about.
    I’ve been hit by trolls as well, but know what they are up to only because of my one time mistake of trying to reason with them as well. That was a big No No. and won’t go there ever again. not that I am week but that I am now wise to this evil which is seen more in our world today because of the internet and social media. Sorry you had to experience it , you did the right thing by praying for him. That is what we are suppose to do even thought it is hard.
    I like what Jack posted for it is the truth.
    2 Timothy 3:1-5 at the end of these verses it says in 5 …Have nothing to do with such people.
    These people that do this kind of thing do it because they want to make a mockery of God by hopefully making us angry and bringing us to Not be Christ like. We are being tested on a daily basis, what a time we live in and a great witness we can have because of these days we are in. Even though we can’t see Him and yet still believe , we are blessed because of it. Trolls are of satin … we are of Christ Jesus who lives in our hearts.
    You make a difference in this world because of your love for our Father who is in Heaven.
    Have a blessed day,
    Greg

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thanks Greg for your kind words. I don’t know if this particular troll was of Satan, or just an angry man hiding behind the anonymity of the screen. But for whatever reason, it was surely a hurtful and painful lesson for me. But my hope is that I’ve made a difference by stepping back & trusting in the Father to sort out the details. Hurtful and painful as it was, I’ve been called to show love. ~TxH~

      Reply
  2. The Rural Economist

    I seem to get a trolls attention about once a week lately. I don’t avoid controversial topics either. At first it bothered me, but not anymore. I just ban and go on. Don’t avoid interacting with the community you have built just because of a few people stirring up trouble. What we do is needed in the world today and will always bring out anger in those who are opposed to the way we live. That’s just part of it. Sorry for the problems this person has caused. Thanks for sharing this on the Homestead Blog Hop.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      It’s so odd to me that someone would waste their time spewing anger and hate over a NON-anger or hate issue. I know we don’t all see eye to eye, and I know some people will apparently not agree on even the most humanitarian of topics such as how we can get food that would otherwise be wasted to hungry people. (??) But why waste the effort to spew nonsense and boil up trouble? Boredom? (smh)

      Reply
  3. Patti

    Tammy, my oldest son works for an internet security firm. They protect big companies from trolls and Robo Responders. He has told me that right now they’re having issues with Taiwan. There are people who are paid to do exactly what happened to you. They set up the discourse and wait for the responses to come in. When people are “ticked” they feed off of that to get in your “business” or personal info. My son said you’d be surprised at what they can gain access to just by responding. He told me to never fill in the info section of your facebook, especially women adding their maiden names if married. You should never add the city you live in, birthday, wedding anniversary, school attended etc…… There is so much info that we all give out without knowing it. He said that if you must have an account change your password every 2 weeks. I have since deleted my account. By the way I don’t eat red meat but love chicken. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Good to know Patti. It’s caused me to look at my accounts with a critical eye. It seems FB likes to default all the settings to allow more information than you were aware of to be there for public viewing. I’ll continue to keep an eye on it, thanks for your helpful information. (I love a good charcoal-grilled chicken breast myself! LOL)

      Reply
  4. Karen R

    It seems as though parents aren’t teaching the “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all” anymore, sadly. You do a great job and are touching many lives in a positive way! Love your fb page and your blog! Keep up the good work dear Lady!!!

    Reply
  5. Linda

    Tammy, I am so sorry about your experience with that troll. I agree with what Sandy, Mel and the rest of your caring readers have said Please don’t let this one unhappy soul add stress to your life. I have loved reading your site from the the first time I found it. You are a wonderful writer, a caring lady who has taught many things to your readers. Please don’t change the way you do anything on your blog or facebook. You are loved by those who matter.

    Reply
  6. Jamie @ Medium Sized Family

    I didn’t see any of these comments on FB, but it sounds to me like you were definitely in the right to block this person. I don’t have any problems with people coming to my FB page to tastefully disagree or offer a different viewpoint, but if they are going to be mean or abrasive, they don’t belong there. I’m sure that it hurts to have someone treat you this way, but keep in mind that his behavior doesn’t speak much about you, but speaks volumes about him! And keep in touch on FB, there are still a lot of us who enjoy your interactions. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Jamie, the comments were removed pretty quickly once they started blasting through. I’m not sure why someone would be on my page in the first place if they really felt like he did. Thank you for your uplifting words!

      Reply
  7. Cheryl

    I don’t understand why there are some folks who insist on stirring things up. What a beating. Don’t let them stop you Tammy. You have a lot of great things to share and I love your blogs and posts. I can’t blame you for taking a break from it, but saddle up girl and get back on that horse! Smile and know you are doing great!

    Reply
  8. Shirley Taylor

    You’re definitely (right on),sorry,that really dates me…but you are!
    That’s why I make a point to carefully choose who I (follow),and I very seldom make comments on public posts,like those from a local news channel.
    People are cruel and inhumane!
    They are faceless,so it doesn’t matter what kind of trash comes from their fingertips.
    I can tell you,it shocked me ,the first time I actually came upon some of it,so I try to avoid it but that’s not always possible.
    I don’t blame you for pulling back for a bit.
    When all you’re doing is trying to entertain and inform,then someone goes balistic. ….kind of creepy.
    The times,they are a-changin!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Kinda creepy indeed Shirley. But even though I was nervous to hit “publish” for this post wondering what kind of reaction I would receive, I’ve been so touched by all the kind supportive comments. THANK YOU!!

      Reply
  9. C. Weber Wagner

    Well, from what the Pope said while he visited, he pretty much agrees with you about celebrating diversity and working together. I’d say that puts you in pretty good company. Keep up the good work — and the interesting blog posts.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      If we’d all practice the ‘Golden Rule’ the world would be a happier place Claudia. It seems too many times it’s all about Me. ME. ME, especially when we can remain faceless online. YES – let’s celebrate our diversity and work TOGETHER! Thank you so much for your supportive comment.

      Reply
  10. Mel

    I believe our whole society has been trained to polarize. We can no longer tell the difference between a different point of view (no matter how civilly worded) and a personal attack. Conversely, we think that the right to speak freely ( which shall not be infringed by government) means that we have the right to speak hatefully to others without consequences. We are guilted into believing that if we don’t allow others their right to free speech on our own personal facebook pages, blogs, instagram feeds, internet forums etc., we are somehow infringing on their rights. I say that if I would not tolerate trollish behavior from a guest in my actual home, I will not tolerate it from a guest in my online home either.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      EXACTLY! A difference of opinion is seen as a personal attack these days Mel. But I really don’t understand some of the hatefulness online. It’s almost like some people take pleasure from really jabbing at people – even when the topic is humanitarian. (smh) And I feel like you about my sites – I don’t mind differing opinions but I don’t feel I must allow hatefulness or trollish behavior – it’s NOT a free-speech issue, it’s my page.

      Reply
  11. Sandy

    Please continue as you have. If someone is offensive or disrespectful block them and move on. Don’t feel bad about it. You’re sparing those that enjoy your writings. Like you said- we don’t have to agree, but we can disagree respectfully.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Yes Sandy. YES! We don’t have to agree, but we can disagree respectfully. But I *do* feel guilty about blocking people. My FB followers have always been so wonderful, I’ve never dealt with this kind of situation before (although sadly it’s the way it is – I’ve been expecting it at some point) I guess I just chalk it up to FB innocence lost… Thank you for your kind words.

      Reply
  12. Patty

    I stopped going on facebook for quite awhile. I think since people don’t really know you they feel they can post anything they want. I went back on because almost every contest on the blogs that I read insisted I “like” them on facebook to enter so I did. I finally had enough and deleted almost all of people on facebook. Now I just keep up-to-date on friends that are not in the area and recipes. There are a lot of trolls online and I think twice before I post anything because it sickens me what some responses are from people I don’t even know. I’m sorry that happened to you. (Also I love your blog!!!!!)

    Reply
  13. Margy

    I’ve had to deal with trolls during my years of posting online. The worst came with an article in the Huntington Post, and more with a YouTube video someone else made for me. I just ignore the hateful comments, but you are right, they cut to the bone. I’ve been more fortunate with my blog and Facebook. I do try to stay away from sensitive and political issues, so maybe that has helped. I just don’t know what people get out of being so nasty and hurtful, but I don’t think I’ll ask.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve always been of the mindset that people have the right to feel one way or the other about issues, sensitive or not. So I’ve never really put out anything sensitive or political (I thought, anyway) But yeah – cut to the bone pretty much describes it. I’m puzzled the same as you though – I’m not sure what people get out of being so nasty and hurtful.

      Reply

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