The Things We Say During a Social Media Crisis

Laughter is the best medicine.

Even when you’re sad.

Especially when you have a rough day at work.

And most definitely when your entire existence on social media is hanging by a thread.

A very thin thread at that.

This is one of the first photos I posted on Facebook years ago. As you can see, Tyra knew back then that duck lips were a thing.

Here’s the thing, y’all. To cope with the great social media shutdown of 2018, I discovered that laughter would help me. Believe it or not, I didn’t have to look far because real people in the real world said some hilarious things to me surrounding the experience. So much so, I felt that you needed the laughter as well. Welcome to the second post in a three- part series about that time not too long ago when I ended up in Facebook jail.

Remember friends, these are real things said by real people. The questions and statements in bold are what was said to me, and underneath is my response.

Did you have a stalker?

Not hardly. The short story is this: I posted something for work on the organization’s Facebook page that advertised a political forum. Since I work at a church, it’s against Facebook rules for a church to engage in political activity, which we didn’t realize at the time, because we weren’t actually endorsing a candidate. (You can get the background and read the long story here.)

Just so you know, I have a policy not to friend people who create more than one social media profile. It shows that you’re flaky.

I am probably flaky to a certain degree in some areas of my life, but not when it comes to social media. It was a big, stressful and traumatic thing…a huge thing. Huge. (I really didn’t know how to respond to that one because that person did follow me on social media before he said that to me so I just kept repeating the word HUGE.)

It. Was. Huge.

Did you and your ex-husband get back together?

Wait….what? No. Most social media platforms expect you to use your government name. The one on your driver’s license. If something goes awry with your account, you will have explain why you don’t use your government name. If they don’t like your answer…you can be gone in seconds. Until recently, all of my social media accounts were in my maiden name. When all the drama went down, Facebook asked to see a copy of my driver’s license. When the two names didn’t match, it was a problem. My married name is part of my whole government name, so here I am, married name and all on my remaining social media accounts. We did not get back together and are very happy in our lives as friendly co-parents.

The Five Holloways earlier this year. In order for this picture to be posted on Facebook, we had to remain the Five Holloways…not one Williams (my maiden name) and four Holloways.

Who was the first person who reached out to you on social media when this happened?

Surprisingly, my ex-husband. He knew something was up when the tags in our joint photos of the kids disappeared. He made to sure to friend me on other social media accounts rather quickly. Our relationship has greatly improved in the past few years, and we are pretty good friends and co-parents on social media and in real life.

I need you to verify who you are…how do we know each other? What is my favorite food? Is this really you?

I totally get the paranoia here about fake social media accounts, but this is funny to me. A lot of those fake accounts are created by bots, not people. To reach out to me on another platform and interrogate me about your life wouldn’t work if I were a bot or a scam artist. The hackers usually don’t stretch across platforms…you’re safe if you follow me…I promise, and I’m not sure what your favorite food is. As a matter of fact, it actually should be pizza. If pizza isn’t your favorite food, change it to pizza and let’s call it a day.

Did you add people back who you didn’t want to add?

No. I mentioned in part one of this series that I learned I don’t need to be friends with everyone from my youth. The mean girls from middle and high school are now mean 40-something women, and the political extremists that I kept as friends but unfollowed their posts are still extreme. I’m now really intentional about who I’ve added back to my social media circles. Interestingly enough though, there are people who know the whole story and won’t add me back on any form of social media whatsoever. That’s when I realized my social media empire had gaping holes of inauthenticity in it.

Are you still trying to connect with all of your Facebook friends back in some way or another?

Kind of. I’m at about 25 percent of the friends I had before. It’s hard trying to remember who I follow where. I’m trying to get the ones back who I miss, but as I said before, a lot of them didn’t add me back. I think people have Facebook friends, Twitter friends, Snapchat friends, Instagram friends, and don’t like to mix their friends on social media platforms. Either way, it’s good…those who want to connect, can and will connect.

What was your initial reaction?

Shock. In all honesty, my ego was bruised pretty badly. Facebook put me in jail? Do they know I manage social media for one of the largest ministries in the whole United States of America? How dare they? And then I accepted the fact that I am not all that.

What was the most stressful part of the whole experience?

The church’s page was compromised. From managing that page, I’ve had an incredible opportunity to connect with people over prayer and through sharing information about our ministry. I had no idea how we would even start to rebuild if we had to.

What did I do to offend you and cause you to unfriend me?

Nothing. I’m in Facebook jail. Follow me on other social media now so we won’t have this kind of anxiety ever again.

Are you afraid to post on social media now?

Yes. All the time. It’s actually a running joke in my office as I work to rebuild my confidence and my familiarity with the rules of engagement.

What do you miss most from your old Facebook profile?

The memories. I looked forward to seeing my Facebook memories from 5, 10, and 12 years ago. The kids were 3,4, and 5 years old when I joined Facebook. A lot of my early status messages were about their growth milestones and funny things they’d say. My memories on Facebook made me smile often, and now those memories are gone.

What don’t you miss from your old profile?

Inbox messages from someone I haven’t spoken to in years asking for access to my social media network. “Toni, will you post this graphic about my community event in North Dakota? I need your network to see it.” For the most part, my friends and followers live in Chicago, Mississippi or Texas. We aren’t planning on going to North Dakota anytime soon but it was hard to get people to understand that. Also, working in social media has an unwritten code of ethics. I rarely, rarely change my profile picture to advertise an event, but because of my following, I was seen as an influencer. And people that I know (and some that I don’t) were asking for asking for access to the people I know and love. How many different ways can I say no? Believe it or not, my closest circle of friends is really protective about their privacy on Facebook and I don’t even have permission to tag them in photos regularly. Why on earth would I bombard their timelines with information about an event they aren’t even interested in?

As weird as I feel saying it, this experience rocked my world. I took a lot of things for granted about my social media knowledge and existence on platforms. The ability to take most of it with a grain of salt and laugh at this helped me while navigating the red tape to regain my social media footing. Thank you for laughing with me…click here for the next part of the series.

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