Tag Archives: blocking

The Hidden Curriculum of Social Media

For those who don’t know, the term “hidden curriculum” refers to the things in everyday social life that are hard for people on the autism spectrum to pick up that others just do unconsciously. From the perspective of a person with autism, these things are “hidden” because they simply don’t see them. It’s not out of willfullness or stubborness, they are social cues that are too subtle for them to read.

While I’m not on the spectrum, I feel like I have had a full run-in with the “hidden curriculum” of social media lately. I’m a casual user of Facebook. I don’t know the ins and out of it. I don’t “poke” people. When I share posts I credit the people I shared them from, because in my mind, that’s the proper thing you do. You give credit to the people you’ve borrowed something from. I remember enough from Pinterest a couple of years ago to know people were up in arms about not giving credit there.

I don’t know how “tagging” works. But, apparently it’s a pretty darn big deal. Enough so that it warrants warnings like this from people: “I have to say this far too often: don’t tag me in any post not specifically related to me and don’t add me to groups. Both acts earn an unfriend and block.” Now, “not specifically related to me,” that seems perfectly fair. And adding to groups? That would be downright rude. “Both acts earn an unfriend and a block.” Wow. That’s wielding power in the Facebook world.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been such a big deal if another author hadn’t PM’d me personally. “Could you please stop tagging me when you share something I’ve liked? If I wanted to share it on my timeline, I would, and tagging makes it show up there anyway unless I go in and manually untag myself.” Now, again, that’s not an unreasonable request–except I had no idea I was “tagging” anyone. I have no idea how that works. But then it comes to the almighty timeline. I replied that I didn’t know how that worked, apologized, said I just wanted to give credit. Now, she was nice about it, but then there’s just that little bit of ambiguity where 70%+ of language is non-verbal so you’re really not sure what the tone is. “FB can be SOOO confusing about what it does sometimes. It ought to come with instructions!” Now, does that mean it does come with instructions and I should have read them? Or that it really is confusing and it should be easier to figure out?

I take things I shouldn’t too personally sometimes, but between that and the other post, my first reaction was just anger. The people I consider my FB friends are mostly authors, and a very nice group of them. But things like this start to show a difference in the fan/author chasm which isn’t usually so wide. In my experience, none of the authors generally act superior or more important than the fans. After all, we buy the books that support them. I consider it, generally, a really nice group of people. But I’m not in the position where I’m posting things that are being reposted. I’m not the popular one. I’m just the fan. No one would care if I posted statements about tagging and unfriending, because I’m just a fan, not an author. So who cares if I unfriend and block someone?

So there is an unequality, a “hidden curriculum.” I’m not as important, even though that isn’t mentioned. Now, I certainly do not mean this to all the authors I know online, but when it really comes down to it, it’s true. Isn’t it? I don’t even know. I just know that when a timeline is more important than a real human being, I think some priorities have gotten a bit askew. And it hurts me to say that. Because it’s blown a hole in my idealized little online Facebook world.

In the meantime, I’m not going to repost anything from individuals, only the organizational group pages. Or my friends. Because gods know I don’t know what I’m doing, and gods forbid I accidentally tag someone. I think The Republican War on Women is not just going to block me and throw away the key on me. I’ve been blocked, without having a chance to explain myself, and it hurts. I have blocked people. People who have bullied me IRL. Not because they tagged me. Put things in perspective, maybe? Or maybe it’s just a hidden curriculum that will continue on. I’m sure there are people who do things deliberately, but then again, there are people like me who do things accidentally because they don’t know what they’re doing. But, off with their heads.

It’s really made me take a closer look at the niche I felt comfortable in, and I realize I don’t feel as comfortable anymore.

Befuddlement and Clarity. Somewhat.

This is a strange post for me to write, and one I didn’t think I would be writing, because I thought the whole issue was in the past and wouldn’t come up again. In fact, it doesn’t need to come up again other than for the fact that I’m bringing it up, because it digs at me a little, still. Why? Because I’m an insecure person who doesn’t like to be lumped in with the “crazies” when authors refer to fans. Granted, this was when the authors were breaking up and going through a lot of stress, and I’d been going through an extremely hard time myself, but I was trying to help, in my own misguided way, got frustrated when I thought I was being made fun of and said some things I shouldn’t have, but was immediately shut off and blocked before I could explain anything.

That is one thing I hate about the internet. The fact that someone can just shut you off as easily as they turn off the tap. Yes, I might have been a genuinely crazy person, and yes, I do refer to myself as mentally ill, but after finding out what I did last night, I had to wonder if people who are hiding bigger secrets about themselves tend to trust other people less. If they are actually less secure, or were less secure, than I was, and that was the reason for the reaction.

I’m not up to date on the “gossip” in the M/M Romance world, because there are a fairly close-knit group of people I follow and talk to. The two authors I was following, but didn’t anymore after that incident, I had no idea what was going on in their lives anymore. I heard rumors about a woman who had been pretending to be a man writing M/M Romances, which I didn’t really pay attention to. There are so many women writing in M/M I didn’t see what the fuss was about.

It was about the putting on of an identity and presenting that identity as an author to fans, who connect pretty passionately at times. I had no idea that A.J. Snow wasn’t a man, or that Theo Fenraven was twice the age I’d thought and had been born a woman, but is a man now, and really, always has been. I hope I phrased that right, Theo, if you read this–if I messed up, it’s unintentional. I never saw you as anything other than a man, although, as you said, a younger one. I kept what you told me a secret, and I’d hoped that had proved I was worthy of some trust on your part, and I didn’t mean what I said; I was very, very frustrated and of course had no idea of the difficulty of what the two of you were going through on top of just separating.

The problem is that I am basically WYSIWYG–I have never been able to put on a persona of any type, so I am just me, for better or worse, and I have a thin skin, mostly for worse.

That isn’t really important here, but it is in a way for the reason that I am impressed with how well both authors were able to present their images to the public. I can understand how some fans would be really upset to find out those identities weren’t real, but a true fan is one who would give you their support whatever the case. A.J. Snow had an excellent reason for changing her identity, and I think she’s extremely brave, both for pressing on with the identity and for coming out. I know this is late support, but you have mine, even if I am one of the blocked crazies. And Theo, you have my support as well. I think you’re both fantastic friends for sticking together and supporting each other the way you did, and I’m so happy A.J. Snow has met someone she’s truly, truly happy with. Theo, I’m glad you’re out of the grey you were so miserable in and someplace warm and sunny, and your photos are as gorgeous as ever.

Because whatever their author identities, it doesn’t change the quality of their work, which is excellent. Sometimes people have to do things for reasons of their own which have nothing to do with the fans. Fans need to be mature and accept that. People don’t like fairweather friends. What about fairweather fans? Authors are people too, with lives that are sometimes messy and hard, really hard, with difficult decisions. Would you rather respect an author for telling you the truth, a difficult decision for them, or turn your back on them for being honest? Yes, it may burst your bubble, but I can’t imagine living a lie, sort of why I wrote that I can’t live with a persona online–I can write in a fantasy world, but I can’t live one online. The closest I come is when I sometimes get a little delusional and think sometimes people are better friends than they are. I don’t know if that’s always delusional or just hopeful.

I know that’s a really odd image to put up, but I bought those socks, compression socks, because I realized I might be wearing them for a while (I do wash them, obviously) after I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (non-progressive–still trying to figure out why I have it). The point of that is that it’s invisible. No one knows I have it unless I say something, in real life, and online, no one knows at all unless I say something. I know you can’t compare socks and sexuality (unless you have a sock fetish, granted, some of these are kind of cute, but I don’t think they count), but there are people who want to make some things invisible and they try to force everyone into little boxes of invisibility so they don’t have to see or hear the truth.

I think what A.J. Snow and Theo Fenraven did deserves admiration and respect, as well as the support of those who have been their fans. It does hurt to be lied to, but when someone is also willing to tell you the truth, you should listen, because there’s often a really good reason. It doesn’t change who they are (in real life)–it changes something that never existed in the first place.

So I may be mentally ill, with my ups and downs (I can relate to fear of crowds and the need to escape, I have a generalized anxiety disorder that used to cause panic attacks; I’m on medication for it now, but there’s still a lingering fear sometimes, and being around a lot of people is exhausting. I was also “mobbed” at work for a year and a half at my last job, which makes it hard for me to be around groups of people or to trust groups of people, so there are some things I can relate to, if not everything) but it still hurts to be a blocked crazy. That was before this, because I didn’t even know this happened until last night and I just felt compelled to offer my support. Neither of you deserve any ill treatment for having the courage to be who you really are, and I think it’s terribly sad that we live in a world that makes it so difficult and harsh. Love is love. A good book is a good book.

I wish both of you the best and all the happiness you deserve. And sunshine. šŸ™‚