I love social media.
With all of my heart.
Recently, I found out that sometimes it doesn’t love me.
It was devastating.
It was worse than the worst heartbreak of my teen years.
In all of my extra and in all of my glory, I never dreamed this could happen to me.
Social media is the foundation of my career, after all.
And in the blink of an eye, it was gone.
One event on social media sent this ever-praying, bible-study student, Christian author, Jesus girl to a dark place.
A place without smiles, high-energy, and the joy of life that others tell me I bring to a room.
A place without the extra of who I am.
My kids were concerned about me. My coworkers were concerned about me. My prayer partner was concerned about me. My cousins were concerned about me.
I went down on Facebook and nearly took a large faith-based organization with hundreds of thousands of followers with me. On a daily basis, I balance my time between writing, mommying those who I love the most, and being a social media coordinator. I do this for a living. When I volunteer or serve at a non-profit or community agency, I usually offer them my social media services. If a friend asks a genuine question about why one of their posts got no likes, I give my expertise. And when someone says, “We’ll publicize our event by throwing something up on Facebook,” I start asking a lot of questions about goals, intentions, audience, graphics, an advertising budget, and algorithms. My lifestyle requires that I speak the language of likes, follows, hashtags, and boosts daily.
The cause was a post related to a political candidate’s forum we were hosting at work. The goal of the forum was not for my organization to endorse a particular candidate, but instead to introduce voters to who the candidates are as people. I kid you not, during the forum, the candidates were asked to reveal their childhood nicknames. As you can see, it was hardly a
Trump rally, I mean politically-charged event encouraging violence, anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism.
However, because it featured two political candidates, it became labeled as such. And in these United States of America, there’s a thing called the separation of church and state.
But Toni, “What if the church wants to educate its voting congregation about the people and the races that will affect them?” It’s perfectly all right, just don’t try to advertise it Facebook.
And if you try, they may not approve your ad and give you a little slap on the hand by warning you against such activities. Then, if you start to feel indignant and like the world of social media is trying to infringe on your rights to educate others, you may appeal their decision.
And try to promote it again, because you’re a social media thug like that.
However, being the social media giant that it is, Facebook can then choose to delete your entire social media existence citing page infringement, malicious content, and a violation of Facebook terms. And they don’t have to give you any notice.
They don’t care if you’re a social media heavyweight or guru. And they most definitely don’t care if you are representing Jesus. Because well, there’s that thing called the separation of church and state.
The ending for my church is good. After a week in Facebook jail and sending all kinds of official letters and documentation, we were able to reclaim the organization’s page. Unfortunately for me, my personal and blog-related Facebook empire exploded with nothing left but a lot of smoke and a heap of ashes.
More than 3,000 friends and followers. 12 years of photos and memories of my kids. A virtual connection to my youth. The only way I had to stay in contact with alllll of my cousins. Gone and never to be heard from again.
As anything that shakes up your life goes, I learned a lot from this experience. Because I don’t wish this on you, your momma, a screaming beaver, or my worst enemy, I’m here to share it all.
- I have real-life friends and coworkers who didn’t even know my name. This was a hard pill for me to swallow. Because I write in one name, my blog has a different name, and I’ve been married and divorced, I’m known differently in different circles. In all honesty, it was time to use one name and stick with it.
- You don’t have to stay in touch with everyone from your youth. I’d even venture to say if they don’t have your cell phone number (or easy access to it), why friend them on social media in the first place? Guess what I realized when I was off Facebook? The girls from middle and high school are still mean. The political extremists that I kept as friends but unfollowed their posts are still crazy, And finally, that person I dated in 1992 is married and has moved on with his life. NOTE TO MY COLLEGE FRIENDS: that was a hypothetical statement, there’s no need to pull out the yearbook and try to figure out who I’m talking about.
- Use your real government name. I know I’m going to step on toes with this one but I need you to know this. My legal name is one thing and my writing name is another. Facebook was not pleased that my driver’s license is listed in my legal name while my profile said another. And even though my passport lists all my names, including my writing name, (remember I told you about submitting documentation), Facebook did not care. I understand that interesting things happen on Facebook and you want to see the funny memes and videos, but trust me on this, if you need to have an assumed name on social media, you should probably just not be on there. Use your name, there are ways you can protect your anonymity without becoming someone else.
- I’m more empathetic to those who have work crises. I can’t tell you how weird it felt to be asking for prayer for the church’s social media accounts. However, it was a real situation that needed prayer in our office. I’m now willing to pray for anyone’s work issues, whether I understand or question the relevance of said issues.
- Like everything else in the world, this is figure-out-able. As Marie Forleo says, everything really is figure-out-able. The sheer fact that we woke up this morning means there is a solution to any problem. The solution here for me was to beef up my other social media accounts, write more about this issue (I’m sure it can help someone, somehow), and if nothing else, it will make for a great discussion at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other family gatherings.
- Some people are happy with not being connected to me on social media. Y’all, when my Facebook account was deleted, I was most afraid that people would think I unfriended them. I sent a group email to a small group of friends explaining what happened. I asked them to tell anyone we knew in common. I also sent a few group text messages on the Group Me app. I told everyone how they can get in touch with me now. A lot of people said they empathized with me, and then did not make any attempt to connect otherwise. Ouch.
- Don’t use Facebook as a photo-storage site. Share your photos there, but make sure you keep them elsewhere digitally.
- If you are an organization, business or ministry (or person who operates as such), create a Facebook Fan Page. Once you create that page, choose someone you trust to be a co-administrator of that page. If you get paid in any way for your services, do not use your personal page to conduct business matters. It’s actually against Facebook rules, so if they find you, your personal and business pages can be removed. Conversely, if you want your business, school, organization to have a presence on Facebook, do not create a personal account as if you are a person. This is a huge violation of Facebook rules and you can and eventually will go down.
When I sat down to record everything about my social media shutdown, I realized that a whole lotta whole lotta happened over that week. As we conclude part one in the series, I have one question: what would you do if your social media accounts were deleted suddenly?
Interested in learning more about my social media shutdown? Read part two here.