Keep­ing the so­cial no­tice­board clean

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS - — Genevieve Bar­low, The Weekly Times

LO­CAL com­mu­nity Face­book pages and groups are lovely in the­ory, but on­line con­ver­sa­tions can quickly get out of hand, abu­sive and rude.

In small com­mu­ni­ties, this can be es­pe­cially di­vi­sive.

Our lo­cal page works a treat, with posts mostly about lost cats and dogs, snake alerts, mu­sic gigs at the lo­cal pub and things to buy and sell.

How­ever, some­one re­cently posted about an event at a lo­cal venue that promised erotic ex­otic dancers and a wet T-shirt com­pe­ti­tion.

There were com­plaints, the page ad­min­is­tra­tors duly wiped the post and away went the com­plainants, declar­ing free speech had been jailed and said if women wanted to do that with their bod­ies then that was their busi­ness.

Some­one else asked about the im­pact of ob­jec­ti­fy­ing women’s bod­ies.

How would that play out in the world for their daugh­ters, sis­ters and moth­ers?

The vent­ing “free-speech­ers” huffed off and started an al­ter­na­tive com­mu­nity page where pre­sum­ably any­one can pro­mote what­ever event they like in the name of free speech.

This global ten­sion (iden­tity pol­i­tics/trib­al­ism) writ small brought home just how much peo­ple take on when they set up and moder­ate or ad­min­is­ter on­line com­mu­nity pages or groups.

They’ve be­come akin to the lo­cal news­pa­per edi­tor, in some cases, hav­ing to de­cide a com­mu­nity stan­dard.

Upon them falls the re­spon­si­bil­ity of mon­i­tor­ing the page to make sure com­ments and con­ver­sa­tions don’t get out of hand. Some spend hours each day on this.

Laceby res­i­dent Mel Evans, who over­sees the Laceby, Greta and Glenrowan Com­mu­nity Group on Face­book, feels it’s her per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity to keep the con­ver­sa­tion nice.

“Peo­ple know I’m the ad­min­is­tra­tor of the site and I think it’s a re­flec­tion on you as a per­son if you leave things go,” she says.

“I don’t want this to be known as a site where peo­ple can get on and say any­thing (abu­sive or of­fen­sive).”

Dif­fer­ence is of­ten sparked by the small­est thing as we all seek to be heard.

Hu­mil­ity any­one?

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