A couple of months ago, invitations from my blog friends to join wildly popular Facebook started showing up in my inbox. I wasn't particularly interested. At that point, I had successfully evaded immersion into these social network "gated communities" and was perfectly happy to stick with blogging, flickr and Twitter, elegantly simple and pleasurable Web 2.0 activities that amply met my social networking needs.
Then Facebook re-positioned itself as a venue for folks beyond college age, the original user demographic. Facebook homepages, less dazzling than its younger counterpart MySpace, offered a myriad of applications (enabling one to send a virtual gift, or become a Zombie, or share movie lists), taggable shared photo albums, and groups for everyone from knitters to skateboarders.
My interest was piqued ever so slightly when the Facebook invitations that were once trickling into my inbox grew to the proportions of a flood. It was clear that my pals were on to something, so I gave in. When the zeitgeist beckons, the modern woman might do well to heed its call.
However, the zeitgeist has a dark side, as Nicole Freydburg discovered while perusing Facebook in search of elder-related groups:
...since everyone I meet through work is over the age of 65, I thought I’d look for Interest Groups on Facebook who are similarly engaged with elders in work, life or love. I searched for “elder” and “elderly.” I thought I’d find other 20 and 30-somethings working with elders. What I found instead, was shocking. I found very few groups - maybe one or two, that were elder-friendly. Instead, I found what I would define as outright elder hate groups. Some were violent and repulsive in nature.
Prepare to shudder:
Kill the Elderly: 4 members
Fuck old people and their stupid grey hair: 4 members
Fuck old people: 24 members
F*CK** OLD PEOPLE: 107 members
Asking old people for a quarter then throwing it in there face…..hahaha!: 143 members
I Beat up old people: 53 members
I like to beat the living crap out of old people. (sic): 15 members
If this group reaches 2′000 people, i will push a old lady down the stiars: (sic) 164 members
OLD PEOPLE SHOULD JUST DIE: 19 members
I run over elderly people but pretend they’re deer: 39 members
CITIZENS PROMOTING COFFINS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS BEHIND THE WHEEL: 16 members
A Solution to the Problem of Old People and Young Kids: 46 members
I Hate Old People: 305 members
I hate old people because…: 56 members
Federation against degenerate elderly citizens: 13 members
Old people are aliens under disguise: the very inconvenient truth: 28 members
Old people drive like they fuck: slow and sloppy: 9 members
Children and old people should probably go to hell: 43 members
Old People Make Me Want To Puke: 24 members
An Old Person Has Fought Me On At Least One Occasion: 159 members
Senior Citizens Can Kiss My ASS..! 66 members
But, wait - maybe the creators and members of these groups are just having a harmless little poke at grandma and grandpa?
Former BlogHer Contributing Editor, Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By (temporarily offline at this writing) emphatically disagrees. To demonstrate the blatant bigotry of these Facebook cliques, Ronni applied her Time Goes By/TGB Bias Test "wherein the words “women” or “blacks” are substituted for 'old people'":
1. Old People Make Me Want To Puke
2. Black people make me want to puke
1. old people in school should be taken into the quad and be tarred and feathered
2. women in school should be taken into the quad and be tarred and feathered
1. I like to beat the living crap out of old people
2. I like to beat the living crap out of black people
1. Ugh yeah old people are so gross
2. Ugh yeah black people are so gross
Poet Sharon Brogan of Watermark questioned her membership in Facebook once she read Ronni's and Nicole's posts:
These posts -- which identify 50 hate groups on Facebook -- not racist, or sexist, but ageist to the extreme -- are distressing, and persuasive. Facebook appears to be tolerating this. Can I participate in a service that not only hosts, but apparently condones by inaction, attitudes that are not only offensive to me, but personally threatening?
Ronni, who also pens posts as alter ego, 'Crabby Old Lady', did not hesitate to shut down her Facebook account:
Crabby Old Lady is ashamed and embarrassed to have allowed herself to be part of this website. She has sent her objections to the press email address and deactivated her Facebook account. (Full removal is not allowed.) It would be good if other elder Facebook members would write on their own blogs about the site's tolerance of ageist bigotry and join Crabby in canceling accounts and writing to Facebook.
I will join Ronni in writing a letter to Facebook management protesting the elder hate groups. These groups are in violation of their code of conduct as well as the bounds of human decency. However, I will keep my Facebook account in the "I'm here, I'm old, and I ain't goin' nowhere" spirit of another former BlogHer Contributing Editor, Jeanne Sessums:
Ronni is right that those groups are violating FaceBook's stated terms of service. I don't think leaving FaceBook is the best way to raise visibility--I think staying and representin' is a better way...
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