Grounded for bullying

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social media

So, before I get to the meat of the story — how I broke the internet — I need to explain something. I am always on social media. Like, pretty much, all of the time.

No, I am not a “like” obsessed 15-year-old. I’m a “like” obsessed 52-year-old, thank you very much.

I am also someone who makes a living in public relations, when I am not bothering all of you.

Fast

My friends go on “social media fasts” and wax rhapsodic on how freeing it is. In my world, that’s called “dereliction of duty.”

Daily, I am on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok and whatever the denizens of the internet think up next. I need to be online. My hand is probably permanently curved into the shape of my mobile phone. Mr. Wonderful’s business takes up a lot of my time. We work best together when he is the artist, and I am the social media director, and we never, ever share a desk.

All this to say that I’m one of those “online personalities.” I have friends and family and followers. I dot my “i’s” and cross my “t’s” and try not to say anything online that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face. I don’t want to be known as someone who is nicer in print than in real life. I strive, for the most part, to be kind. Even when “someone” is super, duper challenging.

So, imagine my shock and surprise when I was banned from Facebook recently — for bullying.

Bullying

Yes, me, the rabble rouser of middle aged soccer moms, was banned for “bullying, hate speech or otherwise violating community standards.”

That was as detailed as it got. Apparently I “bullied” someone at 6:30 a.m. Well, if I was going to be cranky enough to bully someone, that time sounds just about right. Still, I was asleep at the time, so my ability to have offended the Facebook police that deeply seemed unlikely.

Normally, I would have just laughed off my “24 hour ban.” Okay, I did laugh. It was ludicrous.

The night before, I had posted a video of Buttercream, our roaming goat, running around the yard. Was that what put me over the edge? Poor goat parenting?

Still, it did not seem likely that I had bullied anyone. If anything, Buttercream bullies me! I am the victim here!

Problem

The problem is that my 24 hour time out coincided with my job. If I can’t access Facebook, I cannot access the ad accounts I administer. Not accessing ad accounts in the days before Christmas is not cool.

So I appealed. The nice artificial intelligence assured me that my request would be taken “very seriously.” I received a “case identification” number. Is that like my inmate number?

Unfortunately, seconds later, it also assured me that, due to COVID-19, the chances of anyone reviewing my appeal were slim to “never going to happen in this lifetime, sister.” I may have paraphrased a bit, but that was the gist of things.

Grounded

So I spent the next 24 hours grounded from social media’s largest and most venerable platform. I could not check my newsfeed. I could not see posts or shares of trending topics or news articles.

I could still use Messenger because Facebook is, frankly, terrible at discipline. If my mother grounded me, it was no friends, no phone, no contact. Facebook was letting me chat via Messenger like I wasn’t even in real trouble. Amateurs.

So what did I learn from my 24 hour time out? First, I learned that artificial intelligence is not actually all that smart. Second, I learned that a man who makes roughly one million dollars per minute will still use artificial intelligence to replace human jobs. Side eyeing you, Mr. Zuckerberg.

Third, I learned the feeling of peace.

Peace

It. Was. Glorious. I had time to put down my phone and focus. I don’t want to be banned forever, of course. My heart could not take that kind of mark on my “permanent record.” However, I did enjoy just not having the option to get sucked into COVID news, political news, random gossip, “vaguebooking” and attention seeking statuses or mean comments.

I did miss the many adorable photos my Facebook friends share, and memes about cats, but that was about it.

When I was unceremoniously released from Facebook prison, I found myself somewhat disappointed. My brief foray into being a bully banned from polite society turned out to be more relaxing than anything. I’m not sure what I did to offend, but as relaxing as it was, there is a very good chance I might offend again.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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