The illustrious, honorable, and not at all to be taken seriously Gothic Council went on a membership drive this week, seeking the cream of the goth world for their inspiring insights into every day life... Or I just grabbed the first six people I found in my newsfeed. One of those.
The reason for all the new blood is that a lot of the regular contributors to this column have deleted their Facebooks or simply no longer choose to login, and Facebook is where the Gothic Council meets. While some did it to eliminate a distraction while they started work on new projects, the most common response I get when asked is, "Because of all the drama."
And drama, it do abound. I dare you to find a single person who didn't unfriend or get unfriended by a Facebook acquaintance over the clucstercluck that was the Chick-Fil- debate. The world of the internet seems increasingly hostile, and a fair number of people have decided to just opt out of social networking all together to relieve the hassle of fighting with people over politics, religion, animals, and One Direction.
So this week I asked my Councilors to become Counselors, and offer some advice on how to maintain sanity of Facebook. Joining us this week is founder of the Age of Decay festival Alethea Carr, Hex of deathrock act Cultured Decay, DJ Martin Oldgoth, fashion designer Batty, Sara Rockey of the Dark Lantern Society, Augustine Strange of Wasteland Omaha, blogger Drusilla Grey, artist Jez Smith of Studio777 Arts, and photographer Michelle Weissman.
Alethea Carr: It's like anything else: put a limit on the time you spend on it, have some other things in your life that you participate in, know what you can control and what you can't, and most importantly, don't take yourself so damned seriously.
Hex: Don't post anything too personal, no drunken status updates, if someone tries calling you on something on your page or in a thread, just ignore them, it's pretty childish to try and lure someone into a fight over the internet plus it shows a lack of a spine
Martin Oldgoth: Lists are a good way of moving people out of sight. You can hide people in them and just check now and then that they're OK, a bit like giving them time out when they annoy you, letting them out when they behave again!
Mostly though I just hide posts when they appear if I know they're going to annoy me, I have no time for drama so move on and leave people to it.
Batty: I'll say the same thing regarding keeping sane on Facebook as I have had to learn from being on the net since the early '90s. You have to tell yourself that no matter what kind of "drama" or bullshit you read online that really when you turn the computer off, it's gone. It's all people hiding behind the screens. If they drag the drama to real life deal with them in person, but as far as Facebook bullshit, I just delete if it's something too inappropriate. I'd quote that old internet mantra about arguing on the net/the Special Olympics, but then I would just be a un-PC old curmudgeon, but I am sure plenty of you remember that old meme.
On the other hand if it's someone saying something that makes them look like a dumb-ass by all means I leave it in my comments, it's the best weapon against stupid ever, just let them out themselves!
The older I get the less I give a crap about things on the net. I really think just getting used to it and growing a thick skin is the best medicine.
Sara Rockey: I just keep my friends list concentrated of sorts. I haven't used that find friends feature. I have my circle of real life Boise people, circle of real life Winnipeg people and then my big goth circle of everyone knows pretty much everyone.
Michelle Weissman: The number one rule is, never let your cat use Facebook. Or else you might have to retype everything you just wrote.
But basically never take anything too seriously. If you know someone is just out there to troll, then delete them from your friends list. Also don't go overboard with so many friends that you can't keep track of them all. When my friends list got too big, I deleted all the people I don't talk to, even if they were people I knew from high school. I still don't know who half of my friends are on here.
Aside from the basic social networking, I use Facebook to follow bands and find concerts, post my artwork, and just have fun. Again never take anything on here too seriously. Too many people are just out to troll and spam, and that in itself will make you want to leave.
Drusilla Grey: Running PunkyMoms for the last eight years has really taught me a lot about handling internet drama and the like. Put a bunch of stressed out, often pregnant and hormonal moms all together on a message board and you get a decent amount of drama until the nutters self eliminate... I learned to not let it get to me and to roll with the changes. I also learned to just be true to me and not give a fuck what others thought of it. The same applies on FB and in the Goth scene. Just be yourself, don't stress about what others think or say and filter out that which is undesirable. And like all other vices in life, moderation is the key.
I also use the lists and filters function on Facebook and primarily check the updates of those about whom I care and the groups where I have fun. The rest is just fluff.
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Jez Smith: I actually have two separate profiles--one for business/"vanilla" acquaintances, and one where I can exist with less self-censorship. I do use lists a bit, but not diligently. I hide updates from conservative people in my "vanilla" profile that are liable to get me worked up. If somebody in either profile spews too much drama, I go change the setting on what I see from them to "only important," or if they just turn out to be vile, I unfriend them.
I don't respond to game requests (and have all game activity turned off in my feed), and except on rare occasions I keep chat OFF. Now that you can actually alter your settings as to who sees you're available to chat, I might change that in future.
Augustine Strange: If you find yourself actively having to keep yourself sane on Facebook, then you should not be on Facebook. Members join and get accounts to express themselves. If you do not like or disagree with a Facebook friend that is doing so then make an intelligent comment, ignore it or move on. Facebook does not force you to do anything, you are on it of your own accord. It is about using your own internal filter. People that thrive on negativity and drama will seek out and find just that on Facebook. People that do not; will not, it is all about the narcissistic "me, me, me." If you cannot handle that, then the simple solution is to avoid being on Facebook, not to develop coping mechanisms to stay sane on it.