Facebook-free, but still here

+++++++ All images in this post link to the NSPCC website. Please make a donation if you feel affected by what you read here +++++++

The content of this post was updated on June 1st 2014 – the new content is in italics within the post

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This is the Little Lewes social media image. Strangely I feel as free as these children look since I left Facebook last night!

Hello Little Lewes readers, followers and subscribers.

This is a sort of quick post while I find my way around the new back end of the blog.

There have been some changes at Little Lewes in the past couple of days that I wanted to let you know about. First, with the help of the excellent local front end developer Barry Bloye, the blog has been moved away from WordPress.com to become self-hosted. What this means is that I will have more creative freedom with it. It also means I’m allowed to make money from it if I choose to pursue that. WordPress.com wouldn’t have allowed that apparently.

You may notice that the masthead (is that what you call it on a blog? Spot the girl with the magazine background…) is now lowercase. This is a tiny change for now, but the caps were a bit shouty I thought. A whole ‘rebrand’, if you like, is in its future, so watch this space.

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Answer? Yes.

Second – and a much bigger change I think – is that I have deleted my personal account from Facebook. This means that the Little Lewes Facebook page no longer exists.

Why?

I’ll give you the same reason I gave to my personal Facebook friends, the day before I disabled my account:

‘I’m leaving Facebook tomorrow after over 10 years of loving and loathing it. I will miss seeing your beautiful weddings and smiling children, fun holidays and knowing when your birthdays are. Why am I leaving? This is in NO WAY a judgement on people who have shared it, because I know it was done with good intentions, but last night a video of a woman viciously beating a baby appeared on my timeline and started running before I could scroll past it. I have lain awake all night wanting to scrub my eyeballs and undo what I saw. I want to run to that baby and bring it home with me. Has the use of Facebook reached a new low, that it makes us think that by sending a video like this viral, we are doing anything to help that poor poor baby? That we compare anything about it – including sending it viral – to creating an overnight success of Gangnam Style? I still feel sickened every time I think about it. And I cannot stop thinking about it. It is not that I want to pretend these things don’t happen, and feel safe in my own little life. I just don’t know how sharing two minutes of that poor abused child’s everyday reality is doing anything good for the child. Or what it says about what social media – and us as users of it – has become.’

I posted something similar to the Little Lewes page, a couple of times. But I know many of its likers were at Elderflower Fields, or away for half term. I haven’t timed this particularly well, but I also can’t remain on Facebook a minute longer.

And neither can this blog.

Perhaps if you want to continue to follow, you’ll hit ‘Subscribe’ to the right. The posts will come straight to your email inbox – and there may be more than one a day because the images and comments that I used to put on Facebook may need to find their home here instead. I appreciate that that could be annoying!

(For WordPress.com users who are following Little Lewes through WP, you’ll need to re-hit ‘Subscribe’ in the right bar too I’m afraid. Since LL is no longer part of WordPress.com, you won’t receive notifications through the blogging platform of new posts.)

In truth, losing the 262 likers that I had on Facebook could be the death knell for the blog because according to my stats, I got a lot of traffic from Facebook. But, well, I’m taking that risk. I can’t publicise a blog on Facebook that’s about the things our lucky, lucky children get to do in this incredibly nice, safe little town of ours when I feel as I do and have seen what I saw.

The thing is, I feel like I’m having a sort of existential episode over it. I probably sound right up myself – I really don’t mean to.

The fact is, I was given no warning about the extreme and harrowing nature of that video. I can’t ever unsee what I saw on it. So I feel a bit fearful (and tearful) about what Facebook has done to us as human beings, that it makes us blithely hit a button that says ‘share’ to pass on a video that – and I feel like throwing up when I think of this – someone stood and filmed, and then sat down at a computer and uploaded to the Internet.

Someone stood. And filmed. A baby being tortured. And then put it online.

And then people hit that ‘share‘ button – which effectively MADE other people watch that little baby being abused – and somehow felt good about themselves for doing it. It just all makes me really uncomfortable.

I gather from a Little Lewes reader, who I would like to thank for letting me know (you know who you are), that the woman in the video has been caught, apparently thanks to the Mail Online picking up the story and publishing stills of the video (which as the reader said, makes them no better). When I heard this, I couldn’t look into it because I didn’t want to risk seeing the pictures.  < This fact is incorrect – the abuse took place in Malaysia and the Mail had nothing to do with the woman’s arrest.

Then, a week after I first published this post, a new follower on Twitter who is in child protection told me two even more troubling things.

1) The woman in the video was arrested and imprisoned A YEAR before it was first uploaded to Facebook. So all the ‘help’ people think they are giving by sharing it was towards nothing. And the people exposed to it and upset by it are so for nothing.

2) Facebook has received complaints about the video but refuses to stop its circulation. It says that the video ‘does not breach their community standards’ and that it helps to ‘educate’ people. But my child protection agent follower correctly points out that what it does for Facebook is generate traffic and that even if it upsets people and is wildly out of date (so not actually helping anyone) that’s all Facebook really cares about.

I am of course relieved that I need no longer fear for that baby – and the child of five or so who was in the room watching the abuse take place.

But it does not take away the awful feelings I felt when it started playing on my timeline. Or that I’ve experienced since. Or that I am now experiencing again knowing that Facebook is happy that people are sharing it and that those who are made to view it feel like I do if it ups the site’s traffic.

And worst of all, it doesn’t take away that the abuse took place.

Anyway, I don’t know. I just don’t really want to be part of it all any longer.

Actually, I do know. I really can’t be.

Of course I hope you’ll stick with Little Lewes. But I know tapping into it lacks convenience now.

I would like to keep writing the blog and for people to keep enjoying it. But without being able to publicise posts on Facebook, it’s going to be harder to reach those people.

For now I think I’ll just inch along and see how it all pans out.

Thank you for reading.

Kate x

P.S. I would be a hypocrite if I had such a sense of self importance that I thought by stopping using Facebook – and making you all read about it! – I am in some way helping that poor baby or the many others out there that this kind of thing happens to. So if Little Lewes continues to gain momentum, I’d like to use it to some good – namely some kind of creative, thought-through, fun, effective fund raising for the NSPCC or similar. I hope you’ll be up for an event, an online raffle (of really really good stuff!) or something similar. I have a lot of thinking to do!

Please leave your thoughts on this post in the comments section (the way you would do on a Facebook post!). Especially if your response to gathering some money together in the name of all this is ‘hells yeah!’.

Meantime IF you feel affected by what you’ve read here, please click the image below to be taken to the NSPCC website, and make a donation.

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This is just a screen grab from the NSPCC website, so it’ll take you to the website where you can donate direct

 

Posted by

I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

17 thoughts on “Facebook-free, but still here

  1. Respect to you Kate. Thank you for being so honest and for showing real integrity. I totally understand your reasons for leaving Facebook and will continue to read and support the Little Lewes blog. You do a fab job with it! X

    1. Thank YOU so much for your comment Lydia. It really means a lot to me! Has your baby arrived yet? Please keep in touch! X

      1. Baby is here! Cameron is 6 weeks old now and swaddling is working a charm as you recommended. Loving the cocoon too! X

      2. Congratulations to you Lydia! Two boys! It’s the best, I promise. See you around town I hope. Enjoy the madness… x

  2. Full respect to you. I often hate the things I’m forced to see/read via FB but have got very good at scanning quickly past. I can see how that was impossible for you. That video sounds sensationalist even if it did help her get caught. That’s not the point. We should be able to look at FB without threatening or disturbing images. I too get a lot of traffic via FB but have only just found your blog via Twitter and a broken night’s sleep so rest assured people will still read yours. You may just have to work a little harder on the other social networking platforms. Good luck and well done for standing up for what you believe in x

    1. Amy thanks you very much for your kind and reassuring words. I haven’t ever really been one to stand up on my soapbox, but Little Lewes can be used for more than just pretty pictures of the Sussex Downs (although I will be very careful not to shove it down people’s throats). I know all my friends use Facebook and I loved it and thought I couldn’t live without it until two days ago, so I’m definitely not on some kind of freaky mission to get everyone to leave Facebook. More I would like to do even a small something to contribute to funding that helps abused children. We’ll see. Thanks again for reading and putting the time in to commenting. x

  3. Kate,
    I totally take my hat off to you Kate. Facebook is like a drug and in actual fact none of us need it we just think we do. All you are doing is so so positive. And connecting Little Lewes with the NSPCC is more than right in so many ways. It gives me goose pimples just knowing how huge your heart is.
    How about an Art Auction?

    1. Thank you dear Betty! You’re right, it’s like a drug – that I’ve found I’ve had zero withdrawal symptoms from! An art auction is a fab idea – putting it on the list! xxx

  4. Hi, still very happy to read your blog, and really respect your decision to leave Facebook, I pray that you will have peace from those awful images that play on your mind.I look forward to more updates from you and your cheeky chappies (yes two little boys are the best!) x

  5. I, like imagine most people here can totally identify with the loving and loathing of Facebook. I drop out intermittently as there is without doubt a toxicity to social media as well the benefits.

    Little Lewes has established itself as an informative, beautiful and honest blog for little folk and their parents. Being on Facebook or not does nothing to change the integrity of what you have started and will no doubt continue to do. You do it with style, humour and as demonstrated here emotional intelligence. Thank you.

    Enjoy the freedom from Facebook and yes, we’re sticking around! X

    1. Donna what incredibly kind things you’ve said! I am really buoyed up by the comments and texts that I’ve had from people who have read the post. I knew already that I’d made the right decision, but it is nice to have supportive comments like yours to give you that extra confidence boost.

      Freedom it is indeed! I honestly feel more connected to my children and like I just have more brain space in those two short days since I nixed it.

      x

  6. I wholeheartedly agree with your reasons and absolutely commend your decision, in addition to all of your aforementioned points prompting this, I think there are many reasons why Facebook has a negative impact on our daily wellbeing but that’s a different story altogether. As one of people who did share this video I did however want to defend my reasons in doing so, not at any point did I ever ‘feel good about myself’ it was a simple response to one of the most vile things I have ever been exposed to (thankfully) and struck me at my core as a mother myself perhaps sharing was naive and was intrusive into the lives of others and for this I am truly sorry. I was subsequently made aware of the fact that this person was identified and imprisoned (unknowingly) long before I saw this video but ultimately that is all my actions hoped to achieve. It may not be nice to see these things but in reality they do happen and whilst we cant do anything AT ALL about many of things that happen in the world that is the reason why we powerlessly watch the news and inform ourselves. I have sadly heard much worse having listened to stories from my sister in law who is a foster carer to children who experience this daily. Ultimately this should have been sensored and warnings given. Sorry for the long response!

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Please don’t apologise – THANK YOU for the long response!

      I am really very grateful for your comment and I think it’s pretty brave, actually, to admit on a blog where lots of comment-givers are high-fiving the writer for what is honestly only a point of view, that you were one of the people who shared the film in the question. I know there are many people out there like you, who did it with only the greatest of intentions. And like you I am just very pleased that the woman has been caught.

      Like I said in my post, I don’t want to pretend that this kind of thing does not happen. I just hated what it said about Facebook and the way we use it, that we think that by hitting share we can really help someone. Yes there are rare cases – and Facebook does have power. I really believe the No Make Up Selfie was great because it raised a lot of money. But then, I was also slightly put off by seeing all these women sucking in their cheeks and raising their chins to get the best view of themselves without make-up… Despite all the good intention and good outcome, it’s still the same thing as everything on Facebook is: it’s all about the ‘look at me’ phenomenon. Even when for charity. (And I did a no make-up selfie, so I’m including myself in that little analysis!).

      As you already know from my post, I was horrified that people could share that vile film without thinking, and yes it should have been censored and some kind of warning given. No one should not be forced to watch this kind of thing – or rather to watch it unwittingly – even in the name of helping someone. It should always, always be a choice. Even if these things happen and we shouldn’t be closing ourselves off from them. It now genuinely terrifies me that Facebook itself did not step in and ensure there was some censorship. I have a five-year-old son – in probably five years or so he will have a Facebook account, and could see this kind of thing unwittingly as I did.

      But anyway, I’ve more than said my piece in the post, so I shouldn’t be banging on about it! I just really wanted to say again, thank you very much for posting. I think that video was really tough on everyone who watched it, and I think you’re the only one who has commented who has seen it too. I hope you’re OK.

      Kate x

  7. Since you have left Facebook I’ve had three ‘questionable’ images crop up on Facebook. One horrific. One sexually explicit. One disturbingly gruesome. So that’s one or two days isn’t it? My children look over my shoulder often when I’m on the computer, they only have to click an icon on the iPad to be exposed to this too. Not to mention my own sensitivity at seeing horrible things. (I’m a mega wimp)

    I’ve been using Facebook for doing an online course which has been amazing and has connected me with people across the world. I’ve also followed creatives and kept up to date with companies and creatives that I’m interested in, so I’m in two minds as to what to do. I think for starters I’m going to log off on every device . . . and then perhaps reduce my contact with it dramatically. Is twitter an option?

  8. Hi Robyn, I wonder if you’ll see this new update to the post itself – Facebook itself is acting ‘questionably’ I think, allowing these things to be up there. I am a mega wimp too, but I am more really worried about what happens when the boys come to have Facebook accounts.

    You absolutely need to stay on it of course for your course, but since you ask Twitter is fantastic for tapping into communities of people and companies that you’re interested in professionally or as part of a hobby. Facebook has traditionally been about business to customer relationships, whereas Twitter is more about business to business (or in our language, creative to creative/peer to peer etc.). It is more ‘faceless’ than Facebook in that your feed obviously updates all the time and unless you’re sitting on it constantly, you can miss a lot. But you can also choose a company you’re interested in and click on their handle and then see all the tweets they’ve ever sent – there are links all over the place and it’s an amazing way of discovering the things your’e interested in around the web. Also a little safer to look at if your children are around! Twitter is not without its negatives too – I had pretty much ditched it for Little Lewes compared to my use of the Facebook page, but in the past week of posting more on Twitter I’ve had such an amazing response to all of this, and such support. The reach is further, but it’s still a community.

    Hope this helps! P.S. My eldest has the pox this week so we probably won’t be at school, but hope to bump into you at the WR school gates one of these days.

    Kate x

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