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Freedom of speech != Freedom of judgement

It has been a good 3 month(ish) break from Facebook.

How has it been? Great!

Why are you back now?! Well, I want to use Facebook for its primary purpose - getting in touch and staying connected with PEOPLE!

What has stopped you from doing that when you left Facebook?!

It is personally, me, who was overwhelmed by the magnitude of social and societal complexities that the content creators in FB have somehow managed to create.

Care to elaborate?

Definitely, yes!

We moved to Vancouver 5 years back. Personally and professionally, there has been a lot of changes in our lives. There was one thing that stood constant in our 5 years timeframe - Our friends, who are now our family. This is the beauty of the community here. Surprisingly, we have met quite a lot of them on Facebook and have continued our relationship beyond this virtual wall space.

When we moved here, our elder one was 1.5 years old. We searched for Vancouver Tamils on FB and we landed on a group. We got to know there were few temples, Indian grocery stores and places to visit during weekends. On our very first visit to a temple, we met a few families who invited us home the very next weekend. They introduced us to a few other families and the network grew and is still growing.

The community grew as well. There were a lot of social events and there were virtual social events through FB groups. That’s healthy, I thought. Who wouldn’t love to connect? Social circles grow and that’s what they are meant to do. There were times we were looking forward to engaging in a discussion on FB group(s).

Wait, isn’t that the case now too?

Yes and no. Words, specially written words are super powerful. They can hurt real deep and can inspire real long! We, as a family, have been blessed to have bountiful such inspirations from this community. They made both of us read and write more than we thought we could. Slowly, things changed(Or I think they changed). The strength of this community was the ability to communicate via words. I think the freedom of speech/writing and freedom of judgment have a very very thin line that separates each other. Transposing them on a wider audience means higher responsibility for what we write/communicate. What once was a platform of healthy debates and opinions has now turned to be more of a place where we point fingers. Ideologies differ. That is no way a reason for personal attacks. The groups that I joined in, gave me the security/confidence to write without being judged or meme-ifed. Those same groups are no longer my safe place(and that is my personal opinion!). Countries have been built with the construct of ensuring harmony and encourage diversity. Groups are microcosms of countries. Whatever applies there, applies in a social group too. FB groups are just virtual encapsulation.

Freedom of expression on the internet is a huge thing in this era. A group of people on social media can make or break things. When we start using this freedom to brood over our whims and fancies and ideologies, then the health of this space goes for a toss. Imagine a newcomer to this place wants to understand what happens in this community, the first place to look is always FB. The picture we paint is what they see.

Woah! That is not what groups are meant to do. And, that is not what the groups here are doing. You are wrong.

Go ask around the newcomers here… where did they reach out? what do they sense from the current trend of things in this community? It is completely okay to have multiple groups for the same community. It is not nice to mud fling on each other. That is the entire point. If we as a microcosm cannot co-exist we are not in a better position to judge how a country is to establish harmony.

There are plenty of good things that are happening in this community. It is just that, I m sad that the Facebook groups are not painting that picture. People here continue to go out of their way to help others.

Groups are great for getting things done and staying in touch with just the people you want. Share photos and videos, have conversations, make plans and more.

It is NOT a place to judge or pass common judgments. We are adults, and, we should be able to agree to disagree with a decorum. We were good(in fact very good) at bringing people together with their words. We are now using the same words to push them away. This is a social community not a political entity to find fault in other parties. Praise in public and critique in person - should not be very hard to do.

Oh, come on! You are over exaggerating it? I might be. But, some part of me knows that it’s not just me who thinks like this. A good retrospective of how things changed is always welcome, ain’t it?!

All I wish for is to have the same safe place to write and engage in discussion! We have had some beautiful discussions(even on ideological differences) and have made some lovely friendships here!

Please, please, let’s get back to that..

Oh, I really don’t care that you are back on FB. Who cares what you think?

Fair point. I just started writing a lot in this group. So, I m just writing back here for that old-times sake. I might be wrong. Open to discuss and not be labeled. :)