Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When Facebook Attacks, Do You Bite Back?

I love Facebook. I love it more than Twitter, more than LinkedIn, and more than corn. That said, there are good things and bad things about being a Facebooker. Facebookist? Facebabbler?

I try not to let a few bad apples spoil the bag of juicy goodness, but wow... sometimes, you just bite into a worm!

Here are a few highlights of the lowlights in my Facebook year:

If you've never eaten at Denny's Diner, you are missing out. It's good food, family atmosphere, and affordable. As an added bonus, you might get lucky enough to get the waitress with the blue glitter eye shadow who calls you "Sugar." It's open all night, so no matter what time your cravings hit, they're there for you, baby. They're there for you night and day, with pancakes.

I was thrilled to become a Brand Ambassador for Denny's in September '13 and excitedly cruised their Facebook feed to grab a link to help promote their BYO (Build Your Own) Omelette promotion. I thought it was awesome that they were doing something to fight hunger. What I found on their thread shocked me. Look at the comments!

I was truly appalled that people were not only against this promotion, but that the would come to Denny's page to slam them in the very thread promoting their charitable act. How dare these people slam my Denny's!

I felt sorry for Denny's and hated that they were attacked in this way. I bit my tongue and didn't say what was on my mind on the Facebook page, went to our local Denny's, and sampled the omelette. I was perfectly satisfied and happy. It was a good experience, just as I anticipated.

I just hope I didn't kill any innocent children by participating in the campaign. WTF, indeed! Since when do eggs kill children? I must have missed something on the evening news.

Denny's, don't worry. I've got your back, baby. I'll be back for some Moons Over My Hammy real soon, Sugar!

Not once, but twice in 2013, I became involved in doggie drama. Who knew raising dogs could be so much like raising kids? I thought I'd have to fight about my kids on Facebook, but no, it turns out that dogs are a hot-button issue.

On Mother's Day, my Great Pyrenees, Buddy, was shot in the head. It was literally a drive-by shooting. It was traumatizing because unbeknownst to the perpetrators, I was standing right outside and saw their truck. After ensuring my dog was indeed going to live, I did two things. 1) I called the police and filed a report. 2) I got on Facebook and put out an APB on the truck. My post was shared almost 300 times and a local dog related business with a Facebook page championed my cause.

Within 12 hours, thanks to a private message via Facebook, I had the name of the driver and in just 8 more, the teenage boys responsible came to my door to confess. They had their parents with them. I knew one of the boys. They were minors and had made a stupid mistake based on a dog fight I hadn't even known had taken place with my Buddy and a neighborhood dog.

Long story short, we worked it out ourselves and my husband and I decided not to press charges. The boys were severely punished by their parents and worked for my husband for free all summer, as much as he needed them.

We were at peace with the outcome and told the police we had taken care of the situation to our satisfaction. However, Facebook dog fanatics were furious! I finally asked the dog Facebook page I mentioned earlier to take down my post because people were getting so heated and hateful toward those boys and our decision not to press charges.

They were cursing, name-calling, threatening, saying these boys would kill a person if they'd do that to a dog, etc. It got to the point where I almost feared for the boys' lives. I didn't dare tell anyone their names for fear of what might happen to them. I had tried to explain to everyone that we had taken care of the situation satisfactorily and were happy with the result, but people were angry about our mercy. They wanted these boys to go to prison.

What happened to the days of handling things yourself? Why do we have this "make them pay" mentality? We did not want to ruin these boys' lives. We wanted to help them learn from their mistake. Where have we gone wrong in society? It felt very much like a lynch mob and I didn't like it, not one little bit. People honestly could not understand how we could be so forgiving and kind. They did not want us to love our fellow man. They wanted vengeance! They wanted blood. They could taste it. It left a sickening taste in my mouth.

I raise Great Pyrenees dogs and love to post pictures of them on Facebook and see pictures of others' Pyrs. I joined a couple of Facebook groups for Great Pyrenees lovers. I posted a picture of my beloved Maxi talking about how sad I would be to sell her (I'd never kept one of my pups that long before) and put up a post with pics of Buddy and Penny, the parents, talking about how much I love them also. I adore my Pyrs. They adore their Pyrs. What a perfect match, right?

My "baby" Buddy

Sweet baby Maxi

All it took was that one post about Maxi and the attack began. In the span of one post, I was labeled a backyard breeder and was being harassed by a couple of group members in the thread. They pelted me with accusatory questions. One in particular was very nasty and not shy about letting the world know. They misconstrued all sorts of things from the pictures I posted and twisted any response I provided to explain myself into an unrecognizable shape.

I am a reputable breeder. I do everything right and my dogs are not puppy mill dogs by any stretch of the imagination. If you know me, you know that. My dogs are registered purebreds and are meticulously cared for and raised in the best and most loving environment a dog could hope to find. They are like children to me. I was thinking about becoming a certified breeder with CKC and further improving my operation.

In just one post, the people in that group attacked me to the point that I no longer felt I had the drive to continue raising dogs. They took the wind out of my sails. They humiliated me, and for no good reason. They made me look like an awful person. They didn't even know one thing about me or my operation. Nothing. Yet, the phrase, "People like you," being directed at me was enough to show me I was not welcome in their elite group.

I contemplated about a hundred responses. I was angry. I was hurt. I wanted to fight them off with growling and teeth bared. Again, I was shocked at the senseless Facebook attack. I was being attacked this time. The knife had been inserted and it was painful. This wound would require surgery.

In the end, I decided it was best to just delete the "controversial" post, leave the group without responding to the comments, and continue living my life just as I had been before joining the group. I did just that, without a word, and never looked back.

I'm sure they think I tucked tail and ran like a scared pooch, but they are wrong. I simply chose not to bring more negativity and stress into my days. It wasn't worth it. It isn't worth it.

I chose not to bite back. Would you?


  1. Holy Drama, shit. Facebook is just over rated. I don't spend much time there and your story only confirms that it's wise to be careful what we share there. I'm sorry you've gone through all of this, Cindy. I hope your dog is healing's pretty scary these boys actually went to this extreme and hurt your pet (nearly killed?). It's nice to hear from you. I've been thinking, 'How's cindy doing over at everyday underwear?" now I know. I think you made the right choice in not biting back!!

  2. I feel your pain, Cindy. I can't understand why anyone assumes the worst about others without knowing them. I understand that some find eggs unhealthy, but in a world with hungry kids I'm glad someone feeds them. I understand that some want to make people accountable for violence, but you did just that - and your compassion surely taught those kids the best lesson. I understand that some have different opinions about bringing dogs into the world, but if you take good care of them and find them good homes, you're not part of the problem. Some people try to control a scary world by pressuring everyone to be like them.

    You're wise not to bite back. I once called out a crazy person who attacked me for agreeing with a friend's post. When I responded, he abused me, just me, for about another 75 comments! He needed mental help, not my replies. I never did it again.

  3. Since I often make political comments I open myself up to all manner of vile and inappropriate attacks. The venom with which people express their views-really not even making a coherent point-is the reason I don't think we should allow anonymity (though I certainly understand the need for it).

    Your response is what's right for you. Perhaps you won't always be able, or want to remove yourself from a controversy. Anyone giving you shit should rue the day you pick to go to battle with them.

  4. I love FaceBook too, but I guess I'm lucky that nothing of mine has gone viral in a bad way, yet. So sorry about your dog, and I'm glad you & your husband were able to resolve in a way that felt right to you.

    There's a lot of anger in the world, and anger's not a bad thing. All emotions have value, recognized and expressed appropriately. Anger being dumped on somebody you barely know on FaceBook... ridiculous, and probably because those people are a) mentally ill, b) using you as proxy for the mean boss/spouse/parent they *can't* criticize. {{{hugs}}}

  5. Beverly, you are right about the way anger is expressed to strangers on Facebook without any buffer. It's insane. I hate it whenever I see it, but it is unavoidable if you use the internet at all. I just take the bad with the good and always remember that the good outweighs the bad. I'm a glass half full kinda gal!

  6. Yeah, I'm pretty wordy. I think I could debate them to death if I wanted to do so - ha ha! And yes, over the years, I've learned the value of picking my battles.

  7. Cara, I knew that if I replied to that lady in the GP lover group, we would end up in a heated debate. It was very hard to walk away from the situation without responding! I had to force myself to take the high road and just exit stage left before I did something to fuel the fire. I think I am slowly maturing... LOL!

  8. Lisa, I've had a lot going on this year. Thanks for thinking of me and wondering what's up with me. You know that if I'm not writing, my life is crazy! That was just a smattering of all the drama in my life this past year. There was more to deal with than I wanted, that's for sure.

  9. Hi Cindy - in all 3 instances, I agree with how you handled the situation. My pet peeve about Facebook is when people get political...really, violent, ugly political. It happens of course around the elections. Democrats say awful things about Republicans, Republicans say awful things about Democrats. It's just senseless. There have been a few times where I've started to comment on someone's political thread and, like you, I decided it wasn't worth it, I was not going to change anyone's mind, so I didn't do anything. As far as your second example, I remember the incident with the teenage boys. The way you handled the situation I AM SURE made a much more positive impact than if those boys were sent to prison or beat to a pulp. What you gave them was a renewed faith in humanity. And the next time they even consider doing something so senseless, perhaps they will think of you and they'll choose a better path. All the best, Lisa

  10. Oh, I know! Politics is the worst topic! I have seen things get really heated in public forums and it makes me wonder how mature humanity as a whole truly is... and I fear the answer is 'not very' mature. I try to find a mature response and take a breath before responding to anything controversial. I'm not out to hurt people and I believe opinions should be respected, not targeted. Can't we just all get along? Ha ha.

  11. Hi Cindy! I belong to a group on facebook that is for crafters who use a die-cutting machine. In my group everyone is really great, but one of the members mentioned another group on facebook where that isn't the case. Apparently, in this other group (that is for crafters, mind you) there is 'a whole lot of drama'. People are apparently mean and cause trouble within posts... ABOUT CRAFTING. I mean, we traffic in glitter and glue guns all day, where is the scandal in that? People will pick anything to get cranky about. If they're picking on someone else, they don't have to fix themselves.

  12. Seriously? People will argue about anything, won't they? Maybe there's a crafting mafia you're not aware of with some particularly nasty die-cutting techniques to torture those who go against the mainstream glue and glitter routine. By the way, your last sentence is so true! Sad, but true.

  13. I have a tough time keeping my comments to myself on FB. I'm a very quiet person IRL -- if I share my opinion with you in person, you are very important to me. Online however, I find it so much easier to share my opinions. I have a compulsion to call people out on their hypocrisy, correct misinformation, and point out false logic. That gets people pretty mad at me. I've been in arguments/heated debates with friends of friends. I've lost "friends" on FB and in real life. But I can't imagine something going viral and getting mean comments from so many strangers like that. I have a love/hate relationship with the way the internet allows us to express ourselves.

  14. Haters gonna hate. On line there's no real fear of recrimination either, so even the mousiest little thing can grow a pair of brass ones and rip into anyone or anything because there is little to pay in the way of consequences.

    If YOU are happy with your reactions, then I am plum tickled to death for you. Taking the high road in each case was certainly the honorable thing to do. Your solution with the klds that shot your dog was a great idea. Plus, who can knock free labor?

    Putting up with the haters is a choice. Leave them all of them alone in a room and let 'em duke it out with each other. The rest of us can get on with our lives.

  15. You've proven, yet again, that you are MUCH better than they can ever hope to be. Glad you didn't let them waste any more of your energy.

  16. That's right! Let's get on with our lives and be happy! You know, it is hard as can be sometimes to take the high road. But nine times out of ten, there are benefits to doing it, even if you can't see the benefits at the time. Hindsight really is often 20/20. It was so hard to walk away from that Great Pyrenees group. I love my dogs so much and wanted to share my photos of my babies and boy, did they hurt my feelings with their attack. It was a real "take a deep breath" decision, as all of the situations were.

    I think people can be so mean in stating their opinions. I don't know why they have to be that way. I've often thought about starting a website called, "How to say something nicely when you want to rip someone a new one." You know, kind of like a Dear Abby thing. LOL!

  17. Really? So you are a little voyeuristic online, letting the kitty cat come out and roar, huh? I am such a "can't we all get along" kind of person and always try to gauge the interaction online before I get involved. I ask myself some questions... like, will I change the person's opinion if I state my own? Will I influence them positively or make them think of the situation in a different way or will I just make them crazy angry and infuriate them more? Is it worth it to put myself in the middle of a slamfest when I know I could become the unintended target? Communication in life is essential. Proper even keel communication is definitely essential, but I think some people have that skill and some people have lost their filter. Even I get riled, but it's usually only with close family, oddly enough.