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Persona non grata on Facebook

My mother always said, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. I never really understood that idiom until this week. I am persona non grata on Facebook. Sunday afternoon, when trying to ”like” a local pizza place, I was asked to sign in to Facebook. After verifying my date of birth, I received a message that said, ”Thank You. You should receive an email from us soon. We appreciate your patience as we complete this process.” After countless emails to Facebook and a few internet searches, I learned that this may have something to do with an Instagram account. I eventually got an email from Facebook asking me to sign in, and while doing so, provide a copy of my government issued id in color. I have done all that multiple times and yet I am still waiting to be let back into Facebook.

The only thing that could have triggered this, besides some sort of error on Facebook’s part, was that my eight year old son hijacked my Instagram account. Once I discovered this, I changed the profile to his identifying information so my friends would not think I had turned into some Minecraft freak. After discovering that he called the next door neighbor “stupid” on Instagram, I deleted the application and never gave it another thought. Had I known the possible repercussions (being suspended from Facebook) I would have taken action to delete the account.

Now, life existed before Facebook and one would think I could go on with no problem, but I am shocked at just how much it has become such a part of my everyday life. Besides the obvious of using Facebook to communicate with family and friends, my use of Facebook is ubiquitous. I use it to check the news. I use it to keep up with happenings in my industry (micro finance), I use it to stay informed of the happenings of the extremely inept Douglas County School Board. I administer multiple Facebook groups. I stay connected to political groups and even use it to add events to my schedule. My last lunch date was completely organized on Facebook. I missed seeing my friend’s pictures from the President’s inauguration and I can’t tell another friend that I can’t make the movie on Saturday. I miss seeing pictures of my great niece and nephews. I wasn’t even in the know about an article (written by a recent high school graduate) that succinctly explained the problems with Douglas County Schools.

But my true moment of panic came when I realized that had this happened during election season, I would have been screwed. Political campaigns have not been the same since the invention of Facebook and social networking. Political campaigns can reach a massive amount of voters thru platforms like Facebook and Twitter while controlling their message. They can remind voters to register or vote, raise money and reach out to volunteers. They can design their social networking site to have the same look and feel of their campaign. Social networking also gives the average voter the opportunity to feel like a part of the campaign. Obama supporters shared status like, “I’m in" and "I have his back” throughout the campaign. We reminded friends and family to vote. Social networking gives campaigns a lot of bang for their buck with 69% (Pew Research, 2011) of online adults using some social networking site. Facebook alone claims to have over one billion users. What serious candidate does not have a Facebook and Twitter account and staff dedicated to social media?

What I miss most about Facebook is the ability to be a part of grass roots change. The entire Arab Spring was started by Facebook. The National reported in June of 2011 that "Nearly 9 in 10 Egyptians and Tunisians surveyed in March said they were using Facebook to organise protests or spread awareness about them.” Here in Douglas County, the best way to keep up with the school board shenanigans is thru Facebook. Wanna know how teachers feel? Pop on over to Speak for DCSD. Curious about what is up with the voucher lawsuit? Visit Taxpayers For Public Education. Need to do opposition research? Visit sites like Great Choice and Parent Led Reform. The protest against the war on women last spring at Civic Center Park was organized on Facebook. Social networking is a powerful tool for community organizing.

Now, for some reason that Facebook won’t (or can’t) explain, I am cut off from that world. But I am not alone. I have found multiple threads on Yahoo, Facebook itself (which I can view but not post to), and a few blog posts confirming that this was a mass suspension. Those sources helped confirm for all of us exiles that this wasn’t some hoax and gave us a place to vent.

So while I wait and watch my fellow exiles get reinstated, I have given serious thought about how I have put all my eggs in one basket and how would I go on without Facebook. I have amped up my Twitter use,checked out Pinterest and I’m even thinking of starting a personal blog to share what’s going on in my life with family and friends. I hope you will join me in these new places and think very seriously about how much power one corporation has on our day-to-day lives.

But of course what I really want is to be back on Facebook!

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