Facebook is a weird place.
We’ve created a place online where you can self select the people who can see what you post – people you know from different stages in your life, people who work in the same circles as you who you find interesting. Hell, you can stalk your ex (not that I suggest you do that. But you CAN.)
But within facebook we’ve created this weird culture that requires you to just put up with whatever people want to say to you.
I have a fan page for Feminist Sonar and for my writing work as Elsa S. Henry and those are the public faces of me and my work online in addition to my twitter, and obviously this blog. That’s a LOT of public. Sometimes, I just want to vent. Sometimes I just want to share something that makes me angry, and have an echo chamber – because a lot of what I do involves confronting people who don’t agree with me. A lot of my work involves making people see what they don’t want to see – so sometimes, I just want to be a person who gets to be angry.
I know, emotions, right?
Well, I’m not the only one – and it seems like every time a woman in my facebook feed tries to enforce boundaries when it comes to her online presence, like asking for no arguments on something she posts, we end up seeing a lot of men telling her that “facebook is a public space” and “you can’t stop people from commenting.”
Facebook isn’t really public.
You’re invited into someones profile – it’s like a living room. You’re there to have a social interaction, and telling someone that they don’t have the right to enforce boundaries within their space is wrong. You can reject friend requests, you can curate your feed, and you get to pick and choose what you post – and what you want to talk about.
When I post on Feminist Sonar, I rarely turn off the comments – because I believe in discourse – but there are some posts which I’ve chosen to lock down. For example, when I wrote about the fetal testing abortion ban in Ohio? Definitely locked that down. I have no interest in debating whether or not I’m pro choice, because I know what I am – and the issue doesn’t have to do with me, it has to do a lot of people engaging with ableism on a real level.
People get to choose how they engage with people on facebook & what they want to use it for. Sometimes, it gets to be a place where you just put something out there. Because not everyone needs to have an opinion on everything.
This is a feminist issue because I don’t see women telling men that they should be okay with people sharing their opinions all the time. I see men doing it specifically to women. I see it frequently, and I’m done with it. Men need to respect women’s boundaries, whether its on the street (in the form of not harassing women), or if its reading a facebook post and resharing it so they can have a conversation on their own page, without engaging with someone who needs space.
Respect is key, here. We’ve not developed the etiquette yet, and so it feels like a free-for-all.