Danny & Alex on the See-Saw

Danny & Alex on the See-Saw (Photo credit: leekelleher)

In the title of this piece I use the terms boys and girls; but what I am really talking about is men and women.  Something about Facebook etiquette though makes me think of a school playground, so the title seems appropriate.  What is Facebook etiquette?  I don’t think any of us know yet, as social media is a relatively new forum.  It has been my experience that men and women behave completely differently on social media. As a performer I meet a lot of people and I used to friend just about anyone within reason.   I have learned the hard way that I can’t be so open.  Out of my 2700 friends, and I could have many more if I wasn’t so picky, the vast majority of negative activity has come from men.   I have had to deal with the following:

  • The Semi-Stalker – A male user who will comment on nearly everything, including completely mundane posts.  A true semi-stalker is someone who doesn’t know me well and who I may have met for an instant or is just someone I share multiple mutual friends.  Yet this virtual stranger will become fascinated by everything I post.  Most of the time, these men are in a relationship or married which makes their behavior even more unsettling.  I can’t help but picture them at their computer ready to pounce on my latest update.  Their behavior is unnerving and most Semi-Stalkers end up getting kicked off my page.
  • The Full on Cyber Stalker – A male user who goes beyond the realm of Facebook to harass me.  I have had several men exhibit stalking behavior engaging negatively on this blog, my twitter account and in my regular email.  The worst was someone who did all three and even set up two fake OKCupid profiles to torment me.  I had mutual friends with this person, he lived in New York City and was also a performer.  I thought he would be OK, but he got so crazy he resorted to threats of physical violence.  My crime:  I had kicked him off my page when he made a sexually explicit comment on my wall in a political discussion.  At the time it happened I foolishly told him why I was deleting him in angry email.   Now I simply delete/block without comment.  The less I engage the stalker the better.
  • The I want to tell you Missy –  I’ll post anything political and a man will respond with an extremely long diatribe.  Most posts from unfamiliar men are condescending and include disrespectful language.  They act as if I don’t know what I am talking about, haven’t bothered to do research or am acting purely from emotion.  These men obviously don’t know me well, and I don’t think they have ever been published anywhere.  Everything I have written for the Huffington Post goes through an editorial process.  If I use a stat or fact I have to include a hyperlink in my article to a non-biased a source.  I am not exactly a lightweight and this isn’t my first time at the political discourse rodeo.  I never started a fight with them, and I never posted on their wall.  I don’t see the point in getting into it with someone who is diametrically opposed to me politically.  The discussion is going to go nowhere, and will end up being a huge waste of time.  So to my more Libertarian, Republican or conspiracy theory friends I usually just leave well enough alone.  Everyone can post whatever they want.  I don’t have to engage in a Facebook war with them because I don’t agree with their point of view, instead I just ignore their rants.  Although I have kicked people off for posting racist articles or absolute nonsense.   I get plenty of detractors and would be critics on my Huffington post articles and on this blog.  I don’t need it on my personal facebook page.
  • The Negative Commenter – Again usually a man who I don’t know well, maybe I met them at a comedy show…I don’t know.  They will just post something negative for reasons unknown to me. Recently I was really frustrated with my memoir and I posted something along the lines of “man this is hard”.  Some guy I barely knew felt the need to write “First World Problems” as a comment.  I thought it was inappropriate especially since I didn’t know him well and he knows nothing about my life.  I quietly deleted the comment and he un-friended me.  I was happy he saved me the trouble.
  • The Pervert – I don’t feel like I need to describe this one, but I haven’t had a woman give me a problem like this yet.
  • The Bully – I once posted “Congratulations to SAG-AFTRA on our historic merger“.  This seemingly innocuous post ended in a comedian I knew calling me a cunt.  He then got on my wall with an alter-ego profile to try to keep fighting.  Again, I had no history with this man other than doing a paid show for him once.  We had mutual friends.  He had posted anti-union sentiments on my wall in the past and I had politely told him to stop saying something like “Look I come from two unionized parents and I am in two unions you aren’t going to change my mind please stop” he persisted.
  • The Scolder – No matter what I post, including things as controversial as “Being self-employed is difficult” the Scolder will point out to me that I’m being too negative. They are ALMOST ALWAYS men I barely know.  No one is always chipper and happy all of the time, and some people like to vent.  I would never dream of making some sort of judgment like that to a person I barely know.  It seems to me like just another way to put me in my place.

Are Facebook pages free speech zones?  I don’t think so.  Should people post long drawn out political rants on other people’s pages?  I would say no.  If they start the fight, they should expect to finish it.  But why start it in the first place.  In any given year I kick off dozens of men from my Facebook page, sometimes two or three in a day.  In contrast I have kicked off exactly one woman, and in her case she was doing all of her aggressive behavior via private message.  She was not posting anything on my wall. In my experience when women engage in political discussion they are ironically less likely to get emotional.  They don’t talk to me in a condescending manner and they certainly don’t call me a cunt.  To put it simply.

It’s not that all of my male friends on Facebook cause problems for me, but nearly all the problems I have on Facebook involve men.

I can’t twist my reality to conform to a politically correct narrative where men and women act the same.  I enjoy political discourse  and have plenty of close friends who don’t always agree with me.  I don’t mind getting in real debate, but that is rarely what happens.   I have male Facebook friends who constantly post inflammatory things and I don’t see them getting the same types of reactions.  But I will admit, I don’t know what a typical male goes through. Would men also post repeatedly on the wall of a man they barely knew?   I would love to hear men’s opinions on this.  Do men who barely know you pick political fights with you?  Is this a problem?  Do men engage in the same type of abusive behavior such as stalking, harassment and negative posts with other men?  Do women do it to men? I would never dream of engaging someone I didn’t know well in political discussion especially when I can tell they are already extremely passionate about their point of view.  I would never take the fight to someone else on a personal page like that.  Why do they feel the need to take it to mine?  As I have said to many  of my male ranters, ask yourself this question.

“When was the last time Juliet Jeske posted on my wall?”

The answer would be never….so please knock it off.

4 comments on “Facebook: Boys and Girls play differently

  1. Anders

    I have no scientific proof for this statement, it’s my subjective observation. The more of a public figure you become the more likely you are to attract individuals that have stalking behavior, or other problems with social boundaries.

    With 2700 FB friends it’s likely that you should have a few people in that group who are judgment impaired . Making post with inflammatory political content in opposition to the owner of the time lines expressed opinion suggest that whoever makes them has problems with boundaries. At the end of this article you ask if men have the same kind of experience that you have. I think that this question is best answered by a man who has a comparable online presence to yours.

    This may be prejudiced on my part but my guess is that your experience is probably what one can expect. My view is that there is no real reason to expect men to behave differently online than in real life. It would be interesting to hear from a male person with a similar online presence as you what his experience has been so far.

    So if Men will be boys on Face Book then perhaps Women will be girls. High school never ends, with the backstabbing the covert bullying, gossiping and whatever. Thank you for sharing the gleanings of your online experience. I’m currently looking for another species to join, you have any ideas?

  2. David Stringer

    It’s a shame you’ve had to deal with this kind of stuff. I’d imagine it’ll be worse because you’re a performer – we live in a society that seems to treat attacking performers personally to be fair game, rather than just criticising what they’ve produced.

    I think online behaviour seems to be nastier because it’s seen as being less personal, but it only takes a little bit of imagination and decency to hold back.

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