Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Facebook account suspended!!!

What's the warning about arguing with people on the internet?

I was initially somewhat amused to find my Facebook account suspended on Tuesday.  Basically it was telling me "someone has complained ... you must use your REAL name".

So I dutifully entered by real name, Michael Talks.  Each time it rejected it, reminding me to use the name I was born with.  Erm, yeah - people have been joking about it since school!  In fact it's so bad that a simple word like Talks, I have to spell it to everyone who I have to give my name to.  Because they just don't believe it.  This bring out my inner Samuel L. Jackson, and I often look a little like ...

Finally on the third attempt at using my real name it kind of went "okay - prove that's really your name".  So I had to upload a copy of my driving license, smudging critical numbers, and Facebook promises me if they validate me they'll delete all copies of that document.

Until I'm authenticated, I can't get in and all I can see is ...

That just left me with the question of who complained.  Most of my Facebook friends are from school, university or work - they know it's me.  Most of my posts of late are cute dog pictures to my wife especially, who I'm trying to convince to let us have a dog.

So let me pretend I'm still on Facebook for a moment ...

However it's been an emotional week - with the slaying at a gay bar in America, to the gunning down in the UK of a Labour MP by a right wing extremist.

As you can imagine it's been a week of people trying to re-evaluating the facts about gun violence, especially in America,  A lot of people want to have a discussion about what should be allowed in terms of guns.  No-one's talking about banning them entirely, just about "why do you need that assault rifle?".

So on once such post like this on Betty Bowers,

Talk about bringing out the crazies!  One person posted this rant about "I need my assault rifle to protect my family from tyranny".  A kind of abusive, somewhat white supremacist stance.

My first reaction with my ironic British humour was, "you don't think Red Dawn was real do you?" (sometimes I'm not sure).  My response given their temperament was much worse "Martin Luther King took on tyrant without needing a weapon".

I just painted a target on myself with that one.  Maybe calling the Civil Rights movement one against tyranny is a bit much - but you know those on the side of Civil Rights movement often had riot police and National Guard called to stop them.  They were intimidated, and frequently put in jail.  Their supporters were occasionally murdered and subject to terrorist bombings - many of which were not initially investigated.

Anyhow, before I knew it, there was a whole load of abuse being put at me for that comment.  That's pretty much where I made my second mistake, I ignored it.

It all looks like I managed to infuriate someone really bad, because the next thing I knew on Tuesday, Facebook was investigating my account with it suspended.  Because I ignored their other intimidation, they had to find a way to "get me" and remove my inf amatory comments.  Not only did I remind him of racial equality, I said that "guns don't stop tyranny".  Especially in an age where there are remote controlled drones which can eliminate you by remove control from the other side of the world if that "tyrant" (I think what you and I would call Obama) in the White House wants.  You also live in a country where your nation spends more on defence and armament than most of the world combined.  But you're going to keep them at bay with that assault rifle you got on special at the Ammo Hut?

In the scheme of internet hostility and troll-dom it's not a big deal.  Even if Facebook never lets be back on, I'll survive.

What it is though is a nasty reminder of human nature.  We've talked a lot this year about fallacies and facts.  It's easy to get into fallacious thinking - in the light of the latest shooting, some of the same facts have been circulated again.

But we sometimes make a mistake thinking people want to make rational thinking.  Having an assault rifle makes me feel powerful and safe, so don't you dare use facts on me.  When you try and force any kind of conversation about this on a rational level, the lack of facts on the fallacious side erupts into outright hostility and hatred.  I was saddened last week to be reminded this isn't a uniquely American problem, as MP Jo Cox was gunned down in the UK "as a traitor" for trying to persuade people to vote to remain in the EU in a current British referendum on the subject.

It's sad, but very human, that we cling to our fallacies so violently.  Today, I have no easy answers, but to say it's a thing.

I really recommend Chuck Wednig's blog post about a recipe for mass shootings in American culture.  But I'll close with some simple facts by Neil deGrasse Tyson.


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