Yesterday was a very interesting day in many ways.
My husband took himself off to a gig in Glasgow, so I was in sole charge of our two WHILE THEY WERE AWAKE. This resulted in us ‘customising’ some clothes and other crazy exploits, as I attempted to negotiate around various numbers of children whose stories adapted to whatever barrier I put in place and having no back up to double check with an actual adult!
I also witnessed the most bizarre behaviour in a Facebook group, I’ve been a member of for quite some time. It’s a networking group for people are in or have in interest in the charity sector. The people in the group all share the same protected characteristic, so are recognised as oppressed. The group doesn’t usually have discussion posts, mainly sticking to higher level strategy and job adverts.
I don’t wish to get embroiled in discussions over which characteristics are being discussed, as that will muddy the issue. I have deliberately chosen to try and report the situation as objectively as possible.
On Friday, the group changed its name despite objections from some members (discussion was not allowed) to explicitly include a second protected characteristic. Some members did not want this fearing it would change the character of the group and mean that opinions could not be as freely expressed.
I would emphasise that the group has always welcomed this second characteristic, however it has not actively sought to attract them. Any members of the group who have this characteristic have (from what I’ve seen) followed the rules of the group and participated in much the same way as any other group member.
Certainly, for me, this name change appeared to centre and promote the group to the second characteristic OVER AND ABOVE the original remit of the group.
New admins were recruited to enforce the change in group ethos.
On Sunday, our first new member with the second characteristic joined the group.
Within the first hour of their membership, they had posted three posts that were wholly inappropriate to the group.
Some existing members complained by various channels, including one who started a thread about how inappropriate the posts were to the group. (I admit they could have worded it in a slightly less inflammatory way, but I doubt that would have made a difference to the outcomes). I chose to report the offending threads to admin, I did not receive any sort of reply or see any action as a result of my report.
This post drew quite a bit of support from other members.
Eventually supporters of the change appeared on the thread and accused those who were objecting of bullying the new member.
They trawled through the original posters (admittedly public) Facebook and posted screenshots of various posts, to prove the members ‘bigotry’. Apparently, this behaviour from a person who works in a senior role for an influential charity is entirely acceptable (such is the world we live in).
The new member posted on the thread, apologising for their behaviour and stating that they had not realised that this group was not that type of support group (later confirmed via PM to a member that they had got in contact with), but that every other group they had joined had welcomed them and been nice to them. They then deleted the offending posts and left the group voluntarily.
Supporters of the change then said that those objecting had bullied the new member from the page and should ‘consider if this was the right place for you’. This phrase was repeated several times to long standing members who even queried the change. This included trawling through their Facebook profile first to see if they ‘were on message’ with the newly-announced group.
From a personal perspective, seeing this behaviour towards other people who dare to express an opinion different to your own is abhorrent. I have no issue wit people, who do not wish to see my posts unfollowing, defriending or even blocking me. Personally, I prefer to talk through issues, and as a worst case, agree to disagree.
In this case, the people in the group must subscribe wholeheartedly to the expressed opinions of the group leaders, or, potentially miss out on opportunities and information that could be vital to their career, after all they joined the group to connect and network with others who were like them!
So, all in all, the group has disintegrated almost overnight.
A number of people I am acquainted with have been removed from the group, effectively for ‘wrongthink’.
It would appear George Orwell was writing an instruction manual.