Running a Facebook page with over 10,000 followers is a strange thing. My page is an extension of me: my thoughts, my feelings, my beliefs… but it’s also my business. While my followers aren’t my customers in the sense that they buy things directly from me or pay me for services, my followers are what help me to secure customers (aka: companies who would like to partner with me and my blog). The more Facebook followers I have, the higher a price I can command for social media shares, and the more exposure I can offer to my blog review clients, potentially encouraging higher profile brands to seek me out or take notice of my pitches.
At times I have posted articles or topics on my page that I deem relevant and important, and have unintentionally created a swarm of controversy. As someone who tends to shy away from conflict in general, this makes me uncomfortable. As someone who likes being liked, it doesn’t feel good to be overtly “unliked” for a post. Because my main audience is parents and my main customers are those trying to reach as many parents as possible, I’ve chosen to refrain from posting about hot-button issues including vaccinations and circumcision, although I do not make a secret of the fact that I am pro-vax and somewhat on the fence about circumcision as a choice. I recently posted what was intended to be a meta post about such hot-button issues (I wanted to talk ABOUT the topics that get parents all worked up, and some how thought we could do that without actually judging and sharing polarizing opinions). Lesson learned.
So when I decided to declare my support for marriage equality, I didn’t do it lightly: I knew that I was taking a very specific stance on an issue and that there would be no turning back.
Because I tend to avoid conflict and seek compromise, and like to pick the brains of other people who see things differently than me, I was intrigued by my reaction to the (thankfully) few anti-marriage-equality posts that appeared on my personal Facebook page. I realized that there are certain issues for which I don’t see a compromise. I realized that although I like to think of myself as a “live and let live” kind of person, seeing someone openly oppose the right of same-sex couples to marry just totally rubs me the wrong way. Is everyone entitled to their opinion? Yes. But I guess I realized that sometimes I just don’t want to hear that opinion… and that’s a weird thing for me to admit. Does that make me intolerant? Ya, I guess it does. Am I willing to stand behind this intolerance because I truly believe that love is love and marriage is a human right?Yes.
Thus, it was from this perspective of introspection that I decided to post about it on my Facebook page.
Here’s what I had to say:
So I posted it, and I went away and lived my life for a few hours… and then I opened up my page again to a whole lot of activity! I have often posted things on my page and had a thoughtful commenter actually enlighten me or change my point of view, so I like to read through comments. I scrolled through, and they were mostly very positive, til I noticed this one:
At first I thought: “Sh*t, did I just say that all opposed to marriage equality are homophobes? Are they? Do I really think that?”
I confess, this was food for thought: does it make someone a homophobe? I’m not actually sure I have the answer for this, but the point is, it’s not what I said. The only homophobes I was calling out were these ones:
If my understanding of homophobe is: “Afraid of homosexuals,” then I think my use of the term is accurate. If you are so afraid of homosexuals having a right to get married in your country that you are willing to pack up and MOVE AWAY without even taking the time to check your destination country’s stance on gay marriage… well, that’s what I’d call a phobia. And I am intolerant of this ignorance and this fear. So if anyone who tweeted to this effect follows my page and I offended them by calling them a homophobe, it’s okay that they unliked me: they probably don’t understand my jokes anyway.
Another comment that got me thinking was:
So, categorizing your Facebook page is a really awkward thing to do. I tried to choose a category that covered “Green living, product reviews, attachment parenting, witty comments about children’s tv,” and Health & Wellness is what I chose. Being able to laugh about our daily parenting foibles is definitely a wellness topic. Perhaps less so is entering to win cloth diapers, but if anything, that’s just fun, and having fun is part of wellness. So is sharing a pro-marriage equality opinion contrary to my page’s categorization? At first I thought: my page, my opinions, so who cares if it fits or not. Then I thought about it more (because if there’s one thing I can’t stop myself from doing, it’s think), and realized that actually marriage equality is potentially MORE related to health and wellness than 99% of the things I post on a daily basis!
If you’re curious what happens to a Facebook page when you out yourself (pun intended) as pro marriage equality, here it is in graph form:
I had about 25 passengers jump ship yesterday. At first I was a bit upset with myself: why did I have to go and bring it up? Maybe it wasn’t a smart move, professionally speaking. Silly Mommy Blogger! I could’ve just ignored the topic, kept my followers and called it a day. But then I realized that no, my page is a reflection of me. And me thinks that my best friend has every right to marry her girlfriend as I had to marry my husband (and, thankfully, she’s had that right here in Canada for 10 years). And if posting about marriage equality indirectly led me to lose customers (ie: brands), then that’s 100% okay by me. I only work with brands I can get behind, and a brand that would ditch me as a potential collaborator because I support same-sex marriage isn’t one I’d be featuring on my page anyway.
It wasn’t until after the (relatively) teeny tiny sh*tstorm on my page that I realized that brands astronomically bigger than mine had also taken a stand, at the risk of losing significantly more followers. Heck, the very platform on which the whole discussion was taking place was the one who started the whole rainbow-ization phenomenon!
I particularly enjoyed Yahoo’s response to one disgruntled customer:
So, to anyone who needs help unliking my Facebook page, I’m sorry to see you go, but here are instructions on how to unlike my page.
Tiffany Ann, one of my followers, put it best:
If people don’t like gay marriage then don’t get gay married!!
What do you think? Should Mommy Bloggers keep mum on hot topics?