Social media. Why do we do it?

nlieckfeldt | 13.08.2014

Sometimes it can be amazing. Sometimes it can be depressing. This has been a depressing social media week.

It started off with someone demanding of me that I must publicly dissociate myself from Facebook posts, from people, from views. And if not, well the implication is I'm clearly a vile bigot. I tried to explain that BSA doesn't 'do' politics and that the posts had nothing to do with BSA. I tried to explain that if I were to make a statement on this highly topical, highly contested and controversial political issue the post relates to then BSA would be drawn into an argument from the people on the other side of the fence. My explanations clearly held no water. I will not publicly condemn. Therefore I must agree, ergo I'm in the racist corner. My arguments aren't even noticed any more, only responded to by an arrogant "I'm asking you for the third time...".

Tonight I stand accused again. "Not for the first time" it has been noted that I lack sensitivity, especially in my role as representive of BSA. As it turns out, this relates to a complete misreading of my post, but that doesn't seem to matter. I stand publicly accused of being in breach of BSA's values, quoted as "non discriminatory, trustful, generous spirited, inclusive" - I'm not sure how I have been in breach of all of these, but I have requested clarification offline. It has touched a very raw nerve and clearly stems from painful personal experience - but it is nevertheless all based on a misreading of what I wrote.

Still, we're trustful, inclusive and generous enough to enable people to insult me publicly on a forum which my colleagues and I work very hard each day to be able to provide. At 11pm on a Wednesday night this seems off, somehow. Perhaps it'll look better in the morning.

So, why do it? Why have a Facebook page that's open for anyone to write on? I suppose because we are trusting and generous after all. Why do Steven and I look at it, think about it, respond to posts in the evenings and at weekends? Why does BSA spend scarce resources on having a social media presence?

Because every now and again, something wonderful happens.

Somebody has an epiphany. Someone's shell built up from years of pain shows the tiniest crack. Someone, in Katherine Preston's phrase, allows themselves to be vulnerable and is lifted up by the support they receive. A mum realises talking to other mums that she's doing alright by her child who stammers. Someone comes back to the group and says "I tried what you said I should do, and it worked really well, and I feel seven feet tall". Sometimes, someone even says something nice about Team BSA. And when anything like that happens, that's magic.

Tonight's not that kind of night, though. In the spirit of allowing myself to be vulnerable - you know, it's not nice to think that somewhere in this world there's somebody who thinks I might be a racist. And I know they misunderstood what I wrote but still, someone thinks I'm insensitive, not in tune with BSA's values and that I'm the kind of person who'd tell people with depression to 'snap out of it'. That also upsets me. Why wouldn't it? Sometimes it's easy to forget there's a person on the other end when we're typing away.

Perhaps tomorrow, the magic will be back.

Is this what this blog is for? Honestly, I have no idea. Still, thank you for listening.