Nobody is a VIP on Facebook

Yesterday morning allowed me the privilege of witnessing some rather blatant hypocrisy. A lady messaged me on Facebook informing me that she did not approve of the content being posted by Humans of Delhi, a Facebook publication that I consider a fabulous cultural object that stands for society being able to laugh at itself (in addition to being supremely hilarious in its own trademark irreverent way). After some initial moments of confusion, I realised that it was a group message addressed to all her friends who were fans of the page. Apparently her ladyship wanted all of them to unlike the page and report it because she found it less than perfect.

I went to her profile to find that she had expressed her dislike in these exact words: “The Humans of Delhi page is a bit puke-inducing.”

I went through the comment thread under it and found it to be mostly sanctimonious garbage. It seemed to me (and still does) that she figured she could call other people’s work “puke-inducing” and then simmer in righteous indignation when they responded in kind. I responded to her message and had a conversation. It is as follows:


Hi,

This is about a page you like called ‘Humans of Delhi’ (URL).
Yesterday I made a strong statement on my Facebook Page about them because they misrepresent the idea of ‘Humans of…’ pages, not sure permissions have been taken for photos on page and they are generally vile. Instead of taking criticism constructively and explaining why they were doing what they were doing they hounded me with comments, some quite nasty. (URL)
I have been advised that this amounts to harassment and I could speak to a lawyer about this. Although I don’t have the energy for that at the moment, I do hope to take some sort of action.
In the interim I am a little affected that 62 of my friends like this page and you are one of them.
I wanted to request you to dislike and report the page if you think it wise. If not, I would understand that you rate entertainment above everything and will not judge you but will be disappointed.


Vijayendra Mohanty

Hi X,
No. I don’t think I am going to unlike the page. The people who run it are some of the most creative and enterprising people I know. And I wonder if I should take offence at the fact that you think “I rate entertainment above everything”. Surely I could go to my lawyer and enquire, no? I am a creator myself and take my word for it when I tell you: “puke-inducing” is not “constructive criticism”. In my humble opinion, HOD is an extremely creative enterprise and the guys who run it have my best wishes.


X

I didn’t use the words “constructive criticism”. It’s my FB wall. I have the right to say anything. If they didn’t like it they could have untagged/ reported / blocked / politely explained what their intention was. They usually respond to criticism with strong words. I completely disagree with what you’re saying and we can only agree to disagree. Thanks for your time.


Vijayendra Mohanty

Your first message to me contains the words “taking criticism constructively”. ‘Puke-inducing’ is just plain old swearing. It is not criticism. And by your own logic they have every right to use a public platform to disagree with your “criticism”. And again by your own logic, if you didn’t like their content, you could have reported/ unliked their page. Your arrogance offends me. It is because of people like you that we have artists fighting censorship in this couuntry.


X

Haha, you’re funny. Please continue to feel as you do. You have every right to. I’m sorry I messaged you.


Vijayendra Mohanty

Thank you. Goodbye!


The conversation went on for some more time but it was more of the same. She did accept that she had made a mistake in referring to “constructive criticism”. However, she also implied that I was “threatening” her when I advised that she should not be surprised if a part of the hurt arising out of her own bad behaviour online comes back to her.

There are outrageous pages on Facebook. I dislike a lot of them. I have a love-hate relationship with some of them. There are communities where I would be more unwelcome than Constantine is in hell. How do I go about dealing with them? I stay away from them. Now this might be difficult for some to understand, so I will break it down. I stay away from them by not visiting those pages, by hiding their content from my timeline, by blocking them if necessary (because many on my timeline might share content from there). I also routinely engage in purging my timeline of content I have grown bored of and people I am no longer on close terms with. Facebook is a social experience based on restricting access to some content for some people while allowing others that same access.

There is a way to use Facebook without restricting access. It involves having thick skin, common sense, and respect for all kinds of views. The lady who messaged me seems to lack all of the above. She used foul language against a page, then played victim when they responded with similar language. In addition, she sent out a message to others asking them to unlike and report the page. She was offended dammit!

In the real world, such behaviour might take the shape of someone entering my home (and yes, tagging someone is more or less the same as writing on their wall), calling me an asshole, then — upon being called an asshole by me — crying herself hoarse before going out and complaining to the entire world about how she was being abused and threatened. Following this, she goes to all my neighbours (who she happens to know) and tells them to break off all relations with me as well as report me to the police for being abusive.

On a web that is flat, nobody is a VIP. Bad behaviour begets bad behaviour. When that happens, you can do one of two things. You can be gracious and accept that you were rude, or you can put on sanctimonious robes and go about making a ’cause’ out of it by ‘taking action’ against a group of creative young people who would much rather do their own thing and make the world a more interesting place.

#bad-behaviour, #facebook, #humans-of-delhi, #hypocrisy, #satire, #sense-of-humour