Social Media Discussion Questions

As I’m still (mostly) on hiatus from Twitter and Fecebook, I fantasize about having a real-life discussion group to talk about social media. Since I don’t have one, I’ll do what I always do: ask online, which is why I developed a social media dependence to begin with. Please answer as many or as few questions as you like.

  1. Have you ever changed someone else’s mind on social media? How?
  2. Have you ever gotten angry at someone on social media? Why?
  3. Do you have online friendships or relationships with people you’ve never met in real life?
  4. Has a conflict on social media affected you offline, in “real life”? How?
  5. Have you lost friendships over things said and done on social media?
  6. Have you ever been publicly shamed on social media? If so, please describe. If not, why not?
  7. Have you ever joined in a public shaming of someone else?
  8. Have you ever witnessed a social media public shaming? Did you say anything? Why or why not?
  9. Have you ever reported a tweet or post? Why? What happened?
  10. Have you ever been reported?
  11. Do you say things on social media you’re afraid to say in real life?
  12. Do you say things in real life you’re afraid to say on social media?
  13. Have you ever lied on social media? Why?
  14. Do you “like” things you don’t actually like, and refrain from “liking” things you do like? Why?
  15. Do you use social media for political activism? How?
  16. How would you stay in touch with your friends without social media?
  17. If your friends all jumped off a cliff on social media, would you do it too? (Answer: yes.)

Update: my answers are in the fifth comment below.

9 comments to Social Media Discussion Questions

  • David Sol

    1. Have you ever changed someone else’s mind on social media? How?
    No. That is a reality impossibility.
    2. Have you ever gotten angry at someone on social media? Why?
    Yes. Because they didn’t agree with me.
    3. Do you have online friendships or relationships with people you’ve never met in real life?
    Yes.
    4. Has a conflict on social media affected you offline, in “real life”? How?
    No.
    5. Have you lost friendships over things said and done on social media?
    Yes.
    6. Have you ever been publicly shamed on social media? If so, please describe. If not, why not?
    No. I keep my “online” persona as far away from my “real life” as possible.
    7. Have you ever joined in a public shaming of someone else?
    Yes. But, in my favor, they were politicians.
    8. Have you ever witnessed a social media public shaming? Did you say anything? Why or why not?
    Yes. I Joined. As I said, they were politicians, and they had it coming.
    9. Have you ever reported a tweet or post? Why? What happened?
    I don’t think so. I follow the rule “Don’t feed the trolls”.
    10. Have you ever been reported?
    I once “unsubscribed” from a list before they kick me out from it.
    11. Do you say things on social media you’re afraid to say in real life?
    Yes. Lots.
    12. Do you say things in real life you’re afraid to say on social media?
    Yes. Lots.
    13. Have you ever lied on social media? Why?
    Yes, all the time. I see social media as a “game” most of the time, and I have characters for it. There is a great video with Ronnie Chang and Trevor Noah where they say as much.
    14. Do you “like” things you don’t actually like, and refrain from “liking” things you do like? Why?
    My “social network characters” are different from me.
    15. Do you use social media for political activism? How?
    Yes. Expressing my opinions while trying to avoid repercussions from the government and/or employers.
    16. How would you stay in touch with your friends without social media?
    Face to face. Old school style. Humanity had friends long before computers.
    17. If your friends all jumped off a cliff on social media, would you do it too? (Answer: yes.)
    I think I would only cheer them on from the top of the cliff. 😉

  • 1. Yes. If you count blog comment sections as “social media”. How? I laid out the facts, added a little emotion, and waited. It took years in both cases I know of– about 5 years in one case and about 12 years in the other. I’ve had these two people write to tell me that something I said to them took root in their minds and eventually got them to change their minds. In the 5 year case it was just one comment, and in the other, it was a day of back-and-forth where he told me I was crazy and got increasingly angry– to the point I just walked away. Out of the blue, all these years later, he wrote to tell me he doesn’t think I’m crazy anymore.

    2. Yes. Some people are just rude. They call you names when they disagree and have no reasons, but dig in their heels anyway.

    3. Yes, several. And I’ve ended up meeting some of them in person and enjoying it.

    4. Not that I can think of.

    5. Only online friendships. And usually involving religious people who flip out when I refuse to believe their particular religion.

    6. No. Some have tried, but they had their facts wrong and it was pretty easy to let the air out of their balloons.

    7. I have joined in with online criticism of police officers who brag about molesting people over “drugs” or “guns”. Were they “shamed”? I doubt it.

    8. Not beyond the above.

    9. No. I wouldn’t do that.

    10. Yes.

    11. No. However, I try to not hound people in real life. They know where I stand so endlessly repeating myself isn’t helpful. Online I don’t worry about that.

    12. No. There are things I won’t say in either place, for various reasons.

    13. Not that I can think of. I’m inconsequential, and lying wouldn’t change that.

    14. No. I do occasionally forget to “like” things I actually do like, when I write a comment instead. I get distracted.

    15. I hope it’s not “political” to try to convince people that politics is a really bad way to interact with others. My “activism” is to get people to reject the political means (“win/lose”) and to embrace the economic means (“win/win”) instead.

    16. I would text or email a few people, but I’d lose touch with almost everyone except those few.

    17. No, it doesn’t matter that much to me. I think a lot of people jumped off a cliff over Trump. Pro and con. I didn’t join them.

  • 1. Yes, by being patient and respectful. But it happens rarely.
    2. Yes, because I’m not as patient as I wish I was.
    3. I think so. I don’t think I have close online friendships with people I’ve never met, but there are names online that I’m pleased to see.
    4. Yes. One effectively destroyed my career.
    5. Yes. Finding out who your real friends are is hard.
    6. Yes, in the fannish mega-flamewar known as Racefail, which I think of as RaceReductionistFail.
    7. To my shame, yes. I will always regret being part of the group that denounced William Sanders.
    8. Seen many, denounced most.
    9. I think I have, but I don’t think anything happened.
    10. Almost certainly, but I haven’t noticed any consequences.
    11. Depends. On social media, it’s easy to bring up what you’re thinking about, even if you know you’ll get angry disagreement. In real life, you only do that with people you trust.
    12. Yes.
    13. I don’t think so. Life would be easier for me if I lied more, I suspect, but I can live with that.
    14. I might give a sympathy like, but I wouldn’t say my likes are dishonest.
    15. Yes, but I suspect anything beyond sharing articles isn’t really politically useful. Most political things people do online play to the choir.
    16. Social media is great for keep up with casual friends. I’m unsure whether it helps to keep up with close friends.
    17. It would depend on why they said they were jumping.

  • Starry Gordon

    1. Have you ever changed someone else’s mind on social media? How?

    Does Usenet count as social media? Back in the day, I seemed to have a few times. (Also other people changed _my_ mind.) Maybe half a dozen times since I went online in 1986.

    2. Have you ever gotten angry at someone on social media? Why?

    Not seriously. I have become annoyed with people who were being stupid, but not really, really angry.

    3. Do you have online friendships or relationships with people you’ve never met in real life?

    I’ve established relationships that began on the Internet and moved to real life.

    4. Has a conflict on social media affected you offline, in “real life”? How?

    I know of people who lost jobs or job opportunities because of things they wrote on the Internet. I suppose that may have affected my own contributions.

    5. Have you lost friendships over things said and done on social media?

    Probably not.

    6. Have you ever been publicly shamed on social media? If so, please describe. If not, why not?

    No. Perhaps because I am shameless. However, I once made a list of all the bad epithets people used on me (Nazi, Communist, fascist, pervert, straight, square, feminist, anti-feminist, etc. etc. etc.) I got up to about 320. Whenever anyone used a new one in any venue I frequented, I would add it to the list and publish the list. I no longer bother with this as the sea of ignorance and stupidity has only grown broader, deeper, and windier.

    7. Have you ever joined in a public shaming of someone else?

    Not intentionally.

    8. Have you ever witnessed a social media public shaming? Did you say anything? Why or why not?

    I have observed the beginnings of shamings. Since I thought they were stupid, I did not participate, although sometimes I have expressed the opinion that the shaming was stupid. Also, I call out spammers, vandals, and trolls in the hope that they will go away.

    9. Have you ever reported a tweet or post? Why? What happened?

    I have reported spammers, etc., to the site administrators.

    10. Have you ever been reported?

    I have received notices of copyright violation, which I ignored. People have threatened to report me, but I don’t know if they actually did.

    11. Do you say things on social media you’re afraid to say in real life?

    I probably would not engage a Nazi (for example) in real life if I could avoid doing so.

    12. Do you say things in real life you’re afraid to say on social media?

    Yes.

    13. Have you ever lied on social media? Why?

    I never lie, except to authorities, like business managers or the police.

    14. Do you “like” things you don’t actually like, and refrain from “liking” things you do like? Why?

    I don’t participate in likings or other applause thingies.

    15. Do you use social media for political activism? How?

    Propagandizing, advertising, spreading the word, etc.

    16. How would you stay in touch with your friends without social media?

    Visits, events, phone calls, texts, emails, letters, ESP.

    17. If your friends all jumped off a cliff on social media, would you do it too? (Answer: yes.)

    As long as I had time to get my wings on.

    — Hope this helps….

  • Thanks everyone for your answers! Please keep ‘em coming. Here are mine:

    1. Have you ever changed someone else’s mind on social media?

    I assume not. Certainly not by arguing directly. But others who quietly watch arguments online sometimes pay attention and learn things, informing their views. I insist I can’t and don’t change anyone’s mind, but some people have told me privately that their positions have changed because of me. Never from arguing directly though, that is a lost cause.

    2. Have you ever gotten angry at someone on social media?

    Often. Hence this song: https://soundcloud.com/nina-paley/someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet

    3. Do you have online friendships or relationships with people you’ve never met in real life?

    Yes, although if I stay off fecebook it will take extraordinary extra effort to maintain those friendships.

    4. Has a conflict on social media affected you offline, in “real life”? How?

    LOL. Yes: http://blog.ninapaley.com/2019/02/28/open-letter-to-the-university-of-illinois/
    http://blog.ninapaley.com/category/terfy/

    5. Have you lost friendships over things said and done on social media?

    During my first fecebook TERFening, several (now former) friends let me know they could no longer associate with me. I’ve been publicly denounced by people I thought were friends.

    6. Have you ever been publicly shamed on social media? If so, please describe. If not, why not?

    Shaming implies I did something to be ashamed of, but I’ve definitely been the target of mob attacks and defamations.

    7. Have you ever joined in a public shaming of someone else?

    I hope not. But given I’ve been online a long time, and only gradually come to understand how effed up online mobbing is, I probably have.

    8. Have you ever witnessed a social media public shaming? Did you say anything? Why or why not?

    All the damn time. Twitter is nonstop mob wars. In a few instances I have sent personal messages to the targets. A few times, when I’ve seen a friend TERFened, I’ve sent both personal messages of support and alerted other friends who like wading in online shit to show up and support them. Mostly I’m quiet though.

    9. Have you ever reported a tweet or post? Why? What happened?

    Never. I don’t think the internet should be used that way.

    10. Have you ever been reported?

    All the damn time. And banned, too: http://blog.ninapaley.com/2017/03/22/the-terfening-online-silencing-campaign/

    11. Do you say things on social media you’re afraid to say in real life?

    This one has me a bit stumped, even though I wrote the question. I’ve said nothing online I wouldn’t say in real life. However, in real life I’m hardly ever standing in front of a crowd of 15,000 people, some of whom actively hate me.

    12. Do you say things in real life you’re afraid to say on social media?

    I wrote this question because of all the people who tell me in real life they support me and agree with me, but would never say so online out of fear. Recently I bumped into a friend who explained she unfriended me on fecebook because she didn’t want to jeopardize her membership in a real-life group that had many members who publicly denounced me. She apologized for being a coward. I felt bad for her, myself, and everyone.

    13. Have you ever lied on social media? Why?

    Mostly lies of omission. I see people say some appalling things, but don’t bother disagreeing with them most of the time. Considering how “out there” and “controversial” I appear, this is ironic – mostly I have kept my virtual mouth shut, but just expressing a teeny bit of what I think has lead to multiple blow-ups.

    14. Do you “like” things you don’t actually like, and refrain from “liking” things you do like? Why?

    Apparently J.K. Rowling has been condemned for “liking” the wrong tweets. It is dangerous to express any approval of controversial and unpopular sentiments. I can’t un-know this, so it surely has affected my online behavior in some way.

    15. Do you use social media for political activism? How?

    Depends on how you define political activism. I feel a certain compulsion to tell the truth when the truth becomes suppressed. Is that political? I don’t expect to change minds, but I want people who know the truth but are afraid to say it, see it expressed openly sometimes. Others’ willingness to do that has given me hope and courage, and I wanted to pass it on.

    16. How would you stay in touch with your friends without social media?

    Great question. I’m using email, but being off fecebook especially is a huge blow to my social life. I’m making more real-time phone calls, because hearing a live human voice is grounding in a way online messaging is not.

    17. If your friends all jumped off a cliff on social media, would you do it too? (Answer: yes.)

    We’re all jumping off this cliff together.

  • Chai

    Hi Nina,
    You can’t change someone else’s mind. But… I’ll just say it again…. you have certainly helped ME change MY mind on a number of topics. Keep it up!

  • Bugmaster

    My own answer is “no, I never touch the stuff” (unless this comment section counts, I suppose).

  • Lyn

    1. Have you ever changed someone else’s mind on social media? How?

    Yes. Reasonable (respectful) discussion & evidence to back-up my position(s).

    2. Have you ever gotten angry at someone on social media? Why?

    Yes. Stupidity. Ignoring evidence. Unprovoked ideological attacks. Toxic behaviour they’d never get away with IRL.

    3. Do you have online friendships or relationships with people you’ve never met in real life?

    Yes! Looking forward to the day I actually meet some of them IRL.

    4. Has a conflict on social media affected you offline, in “real life”? How?

    Yes. Grief-inducing loss of IRL friendships and disillusionment/loss of faith in peoples’ critical thinking skills.

    5. Have you lost friendships over things said and done on social media?

    Yes. But by now that’s OK. I don’t want to be friends with dogmatic assholes.

    6. Have you ever been publicly shamed on social media? If so, please describe. If not, why not?

    Yes but not often, and not ‘legitimate’ (e.g. being called transphobic for questioning/criticizing gender-ideology). I make an effort to behave responsibly enough online that any kind of public-shaming isn’t warranted.

    7. Have you ever joined in a public shaming of someone else?

    Not ‘personally’ (e.g. public mean-girl dogpiles). I think politicians & orgs & shitty policies (any arena) are fair game for a call-out, although I avoid attacking people on their own pages, because I respect boundaries. (If I don’t want strangers dogpiling me, I should behave likewise.) Generally speaking, I think rants/venting about woke-blokes in closed-groups are fair game too. If more people kept their venting limited to private conversations maybe they wouldn’t be such assholes out in the open.

    8. Have you ever witnessed a social media public shaming? Did you say anything? Why or why not?

    Yes. Sometimes (in defense of whoever’s being attacked). Sometimes I’ll just unfriend or block people doing the attacking, because you never know if you’ll be next.

    9. Have you ever reported a tweet or post? Why? What happened?

    Yes. Misogyny, doxxing, threats against or harassment of women, etc. Usually nothing happens. Occasionally fecebook surprises us and they’ll remove the offending post(s), although rarely the perps.

    10. Have you ever been reported?

    Yes.

    11. Do you say things on social media you’re afraid to say in real life?

    No. Usually the opposite. I’m more likely to self-censor on social media than IRL.

    12. Do you say things in real life you’re afraid to say on social media?

    Not really anymore. I’m more careful how I say things on SM though, because people have a knack for twisting things on SM that they can’t get away with IRL.

    13. Have you ever lied on social media? Why?

    I don’t think so. I don’t see the point. If I don’t want to share something specific because I value my privacy I’ll say so. I see people lie on SM all the time and it usually comes back to bite them in the ass.

    14. Do you “like” things you don’t actually like, and refrain from “liking” things you do like? Why?

    No (although sometimes I will ‘like’ a comment because I appreciate the comment/feedback, not necessarily what’s being said); and yes, with posts that would no doubt be considered inflammatory or read out of context by outsiders/lurkers. I pick my battles.

    15. Do you use social media for political activism? How?

    Yes. Discussing issues, creating/advertising events, petitions, etc.

    16. How would you stay in touch with your friends without social media?

    Good question. Might have to go back to keeping an actual address book again, so we can at least communicate via email. Before SM group-listservs were effective communication tools & pretty easy to manage – might be time to start using them again.

    17. If your friends all jumped off a cliff on social media, would you do it too? (Answer: yes.)

    Not sure, honestly. If all my friends on FB left I’d probably follow them to another platform, listserv, forum, etc. (but then that would just be the ‘new social media’), but I’d still stay on FB for remote family connections.

  • Lili Fugit

    Have you ever changed someone else’s mind on social media? How?

    I think a person has to be genuinely openminded or aware they don’t know all the facts in order for someone else to “change their mind”, but yes, this just happened two weeks ago, when I passed along some information the person never thought of and didn’t know. Technically she changed her own mind, I just handed her the info. I’m still happy with that result though.

    Have you ever gotten angry at someone on social media? Why?

    Angry angry? No. Mildly irritated? Yes. Frustrated? Sure. Mainly because of miscommunication. If something gets genuinely hateful or nasty I’ll block ’em.

    Do you have online friendships or relationships with people you’ve never met in real life?

    Yes.

    Has a conflict on social media affected you offline, in “real life”? How?

    Well I had someone threaten to doxx me, and some routine rape/death threats such as many females online get, and while I didn’t take them seriously yeah, it made me edgy.

    Have you lost friendships over things said and done on social media?

    Yes. Both irl friendships and social media friendships.

    Have you ever been publicly shamed on social media? If so, please describe. If not, why not?

    No, but not for lack of people trying. I’m shameless, I guess.

    Have you ever joined in a public shaming of someone else?

    No. I won’t even join in routine call outs. If someone in my online community is behaving in a troubling way and I have interacted with them directly before, I’ve taken it into private messages, but public shaming is so highschool level I can’t with that.

    Have you ever witnessed a social media public shaming? Did you say anything? Why or why not?

    A few times. Once I said nothing, because it was a major twitter blowup that had nothing to do with me or anyone I knew and a million people had already piled on, so what would be the point. Once I didn’t say anything because the person in question was a serial online abuser of women and I didn’t care about him. Once I did say something, because the person being shamed was a teenager and some of the people doing the shaming were grown adults who either didn’t know it was a kid they were hounding, or knew and thought it was okay. Also the teen in question was offensive but mainly she was just young and ignorant, and shaming teaches nothing.

    Have you ever reported a tweet or post? Why? What happened?

    Yes, for violent rape threats, and a group of us mass reported an account that was spamming people with Holocaust photos. The photo spammer was shut down. Rape threats get zero attention, in my experience.

    Have you ever been reported?

    LOL yes for being an Evil Radfem Terf.

    Do you say things on social media you’re afraid to say in real life?

    I have a policy of not saying anything online that I wouldn’t say in real life, and I’m confident I’ve stuck to it.

    Do you say things in real life you’re afraid to say on social media?

    No, but there’s things I won’t say on social media because its no one else’s business, or because I don’t feel the need to put all my opinions online.

    Have you ever lied on social media? Why?

    Yes, mostly to protect my identity.

    Do you “like” things you don’t actually like, and refrain from “liking” things you do like? Why?

    I heart things on twitter to stash the information for later, and I refrain on several websites because my like files have a billion posts in them and no one got time for that.

    Do you use social media for political activism? How?

    I don’t consider it real activism, it’s mainly just touching base with other likeminded women and spreading information around. I’m not sure social media ever counts as true activism, it’s so inactive, really. It gives you an illusion you’re doing something.

    How would you stay in touch with your friends without social media?

    Letters. Postcards. Email. I love email.

    If your friends all jumped off a cliff on social media, would you do it too? (Answer: yes.)

    No. I’ve watched a few lemming runs on social media and have refrained thus far. I think I’m old enough that I can jump off cliffs all by my lonesome.

    (ps I have never seen your blog before, but I am a fan from when I first discovered Sita! Stay awesome!)

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