Things to remember when engaging in political discourse on Facebook.

If you are a person alive in 2017, you have a social media presence. Probably Facebook, if nothing else. Here’s how to Facebook responsibly:

  1. Clear out the clutter.
    We all know we have friends on Facebook just because. Maybe you had a chance encounter for thirty seconds your first day of college orientation. Maybe you had to friend an old coworker to ask them if they would cover your shift three years ago. These people don’t know you, they add nothing to your life. Unfriend them. This will help you both as now you don’t have to see the Islamophobic Facebook statuses of a boy your sister had a crush on in high school and they’re spared from your vicious, vicious clapback.
  2. Pick your battles.
    To anyone who actually knows me or is my friend on Facebook, this may seem like a hypocritical statement. Oh, if only you knew how many battles I’m not picking.
    There are some easy indicators of battles to stay away from:

    • If you have Facebook friends who you don’t really care about but can’t unfriend because of some reason or another (family, work, school), don’t bother. Unfollow them so you don’t have to lay witness to their problematic statuses. Your ignorance will protect you and you can continue to like them.
    • If there’s already debate happening in the comments, just back away. Obviously, lend your support if you feel like there’s unwarranted attack or something, but you can just like a comment and keep scrolling. Someone’s already saying something, you don’t need to repeat it.
    • If a person is hopeless, don’t waste your time. You’ve argued with this person before, they either don’t get what you’re saying or are too stubborn to understand. It’s not worth it. Unfriend them. Or resign yourself to their stupidity and scroll through their feed when you need to build up a good rage.
  3. Remain objective.
    Now, this applies to any argument, but it’s especially difficult in text communication to remember. If you have to say something, if you have to comment or put in your input (no judgement, I understand the impulse) it’s important to remember that you are not attacking the person, you are attacking their argument. I am not arguing with you, a person, I am arguing with this status or meme you posted. I do not care if you are a mother or served in the military or have a black friend, I care about what you’re saying. I do not care if you are my Aunt or my sister’s boss or my mother’s childhood friend, I care about how you’re speaking to me. Furthermore: I don’t need disclaimers. Yes, I know you still love me, but I’m going to respond to this diatribe condemning millennials. Yes, I know you still love me, but climate change is real and I’m not going to let you pretend it isn’t.
    It’s not disrespectful to ignore your tragic backstory if you’re trying to use your tragic backstory as a defense for your argument. I don’t want that defense, I want an actual defense. If I’m taking the courtesy to divorce myself and my personal stake in this debate, you should do the same.
    And I know, in ever class we’ve ever taken about persuasive writing, we’re told that pathos is how you sway an audience. But in my experience, giving a sob story only opens up a door for the other side to claim you’re biased and undercut your entire thesis. I have been dismissed in arguments because I was the ‘middle child.’ I have been dismissed in arguments because ‘you just want to vote for a woman because she’s a woman.’ So, no, I don’t exist in an argument. I’m just a mouthpiece. Attack my words, because there is not a person here.
  4. Leave the mess where it is.
    Facebook does not exist in a vacuum, it’s true: you actually have to see these people in real life, eventually. Leave the Facebook arguments on Facebook. It’s possible to be a fully functioning human being and have conversations outside of whatever drama got you heated. This doesn’t make you fake or two-faced, it makes you an adult. This doesn’t mean you’re going back on your beliefs or taking back anything you may have said, it means you know how to conduct yourself in society. Off of Facebook, I am a person. There is a personality behind the mouthpiece and this person knows how to artfully dodge uncomfortable topics when the time doesn’t call for it. There’s a time and place, your mother’s birthday party is not that.

Basically, don’t be a bully. Remember that your arguments are not you and if you’re being called out, examine why that might be. And don’t get mad when people call you out: you’re the one who posted something controversial, do not be shocked when there’s controversy.

And maybe step back from Facebook if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You’re responsible for yourself first.

-JM

(Disclaimer that these views and opinions are strictly the views and opinions of Jessie Maggio. Jessie Brokenshire barely uses Facebook. She’s smarter than me.)

The times, they are a-changin’

(Apologies for the gratuitous Bob Dylan lyrics, I’m taking a class.)

So the best thing ever happened to me the other day. I’m not gonna get too into it, because it’s not really relevant and also private, but I managed to snag the phone number of my waitress while I was at a table with five dudes who were all trying to do the same thing.

When I got the phone number, the one kid, seventeen years old, hold his pointer finger to my forehead and says, “But you’re straight.”

Now, I’m not, and I told him that. My relationship with my sexual orientation is complicated. I have go-to labels if anyone is really interested but they’re kind of obscure (demisexual/panromantic) and I get tired of explaining it, so mostly, my go-to when it comes to orientation is this emoticon: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

So he said, “But you’re straight.”

And I snorted and said, “No, I’m not.”

And he took his finger back, off of my forehead, and said, “Oh, you’re pan? No fair, she went for the pan charm.”

Now, I’m not pan. Not really. But I was surprised. I don’t remember ever coming out to this boy. He knew I liked dudes because I’m a hot mess who won’t shut up about them. For God’s sake, my phone case is Darren Criss, my lock screen is Nick Jonas, and my phone background is Misha Collins. It’s super clear I’m into dudes. And I’d just made it clear I was into ladies and (apparently) pretty proficient at flirting with them. Who knew?

And if I expected anything I would have expected him to jump to bisexual, which I also am not, but is at least more well known than pansexuality. Even google chrome recognizes bisexual as a word more easily than pansexual: pansexual has the little squiggly line under it.

Screenshot 2016-04-11 at 6.18.32 PMScreenshot 2016-04-11 at 6.19.12 PM

See?

So the fact that this high school kid immediately jumped to “Oh, you’re pan?” was surprising to me.

Is it just this one kid who’s surprisingly woke? I don’t think so.

I think this is an indication of bettering education. Kids are being exposed to these different things, these formerly unknown and taboo things, and it’s making them more easily understanding.

Nico in the kid’s book series Heroes of Olympus admits his attraction to Percy Jackson in the third novel. Two lady gems on Steven Universe are a couple. Korra and Asami on Legend of Korra end the entire series holding hands and staring romantically into each others’ eyes. That’s all subtext but it’s opening kids up to non-hetero pairings and possibilities pretty early.

And then there’s this amazing scene from the CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

But these are all things we’re familiar with, right? Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual are the first three letters in the initialism, obviously they’re the best known. But then there’s this other thing.

The comic book character, Deadpool, (who is incidentally not for kids, but bear with me) is actually canonically pansexual in the comics. And kind of in the movie. (Not textually, in the movie he never says pansexual, but it’s in subtext.) That’s a main stream figure in media who is openly a sexual orientation that’s very not mainstream. So that means kids (teenagers, whatever) are going to look into it so they can understand their fave Merc with a Mouth. And they’re learning about different LGBTQIA+ identities. And it’s awesome.

He probably didn’t even think anything of it, the kid who said that to me. But I’m grateful to him. Because how cool is that? That we have a new generation of kids who we won’t need to spend fifteen minutes explaining ourselves to in the future. They’ll just know.

You’re right, Bobby D, these times are a changin’.

-JM

Tyler Oakley

Hey, look! It’s going to be one of those posts where things are good for once!

Okay, so to start: Tyler Oakley. We all know who this is, right? Gay icon, Youtuber, book author, LGBTQIA+ activist, cutie pie extraordinaire?

Here’s a sample, for those not in the know:

He is the literal cutest, please check him out.

So Tyler. He’s been on tour, the Slumber Party tour, where he just hangs out with fans like a giant slumber party (onesies are a must). He’s been on a book tour for his New York Time’s best seller, Binge. He’s hosted red carpet events, walked red carpet events, and, I guess, he sometimes speaks at colleges.

Yes, today, March 17th, the year of our Lord 2016, Tyler Oakley spoke at Penn State.

I found out about his literally five days ago. Five days! That is very little prep time for me to mentally ready myself for meeting my queen.
And I wasn’t even meeting him, I was just gonna sit in a room and listen to him talk!
It was still a lot.

Now, I’ve been following Tyler for years. I wish I could remember the first video I ever watched him in but I can’t, y’all, there’s too much. I do remember his move to San Francisco happening in real time. And his reaction to the Darren photos in 2012 is something that I literally clung to (because I myself wasn’t allowed on tumblr at the time so I was living vicariously through Tyler. Not important), so I’ll put myself at late 2011? Late 2011. That’s four and a half years, y’all, that’s longer than I’ve known my own cat.

Our relationship is special.

Anyway, Tyler. The event.

Penn State has these speeches things all the time and I’ve been to a couple. The one was about trans athletes which was cool but I couldn’t relate to because I am neither trans nor athletic. There was another that was Laverne Cox which was amazing but also intimidating because we have literal goddess Laverne Cox speaking to us in this very refined way and I was in the overflow room because I got out of class late and she’s telling us this perfectly crafted story with amazing and poignant poignant point and it was like a capital ‘T’ Thing.
So I was expecting something similar with Tyler. Very articulate, very mature.

I am not sure why I expected that, to be honest, but either way.
I liked Tyler’s way better.

Now there are people out there, when I say “Tyler Oakley”, that get real huffy. Yeah, there are the ones that roll their eyes or the ones that kind of smile indulgently, call him ‘silly’ or ‘too much’ or whatever, but I’m talking about the huffy bunch. There are people that don’t think Tyler should be as popular as he is, that there shouldn’t be a cute white boy being the major face of the LGBTQA+ community. They try and tear him down, try and make him seem like a bad person because he’s popular and not the intersectional pinnacle of every objectified people on earth. Because he’s white and male and gay and visible, people wanna pull receipts.

I haven’t seen Tyler hate in a while but there was a time where it was really bad, y’all. Like I am amazed at how well Tyler came out the other side of that mess, it was horrendous.

And, I mean, the hate was coming from a place of dejection, and I get that. We’ve got a major face for the gay community that doesn’t reflect a lot of the intersectional struggles a lot of everyone is dealing with. But, y’all, this little nugget is not the enemy. He speaks up all the time about the different communities, different struggles. He wrote a haiku on Valentine’s day about aromantic and asexual people! He’s just a precious honey bear.

Tyler’s ‘lecture’ was barely that. He sat on stage with his best friend Korey Kuhl and literally just gossiped with us for an hour and a half. It was like a slumber party! He talked to the audience and encouraged the audience to talk back, and not in an audience participation way, but just casually. The first thing he did was ask if there was anyone in the audience who didn’t know who he was and someone raised her hand and he asked her her name, her major, how she was doing. He was like “This is our first date! How cute!” Not putting her on the spot or anything but really like “Oh, a new friend! I love new friends!” He’s like a puppy, it’s adorable.

It was so comfortable, so funny, so casual, so fun! There were questions he was supposed to save for the end as a kind of Q&A but if you know Tyler, you know if there’s one thing he can’t resist, it’s a Q&SLAY. He took questions, got distracted, got back on track, told a totally unrelated story, Korey got him back on track. I truly don’t remember the lat time I laughed so much.

Laverne Cox was great, I will always treasure being able to hear her speak, but she still feels really untouchable to me. Tyler wasn’t. Tyler felt like catching up with a friend.

One of the questions he got was “What’s one of the best things you’ve been able to do as a Youtuber?” and he answered that it was be the example, the gay friend, people needed to come out. And he is that. He’s a friend to all of us.

It’s good to have someone so prominent, who’s literally won teen choice awards and met literally all your faves, that tries so hard and gives so much to this community. So thank you, Tyler, and thanks for coming to hand out with us.

Now, it wouldn’t be a Tyler post without that #PROMOOOO so here y’all are:

Youtube / Twitter / Instagram / tumblr / Psychobabble (a podcast) / Snapchat: snaptyleroakley

You’re welcome in advance.

-JM

The inception of the thing

The inception of the thing

Now we’d been planning this WordPress thing for a while (I have the messages somewhere so I could show you) but it was today at Barnes & Noble where we said “You know what? Let’s just do it.”

I took this picture when we first sat down because I am social media trash and Snapchat NEEDED to know that we are at B&N, okay?

We brainstormed on titles (I kept coming up with terrible puns) until we finally just went with what we’ve been calling ourselves since the age of 10 when we wanted to start our own babysitting service: Jessie Squared.

I wanted to go with the superscript because I think it looks better aesthetically but Jessie ever so wisely pointed out “No one knows how to type that. I don’t know how to type that.” She was right, but I’m still going to pout about it.

But anyway, that’s not what this is about.

After we wrote up our first post, I left Jessie alone to type up her introduction: I wanted to kind of browse because it’s Barnes & Noble and I’m an English major. (I bought a Harry Potter pop figure and not a book but this isn’t about that.) While I was browsing, I overheard some of the employees talking. Well, it depends how you define ‘overheard’ and ‘talking’: they were yelling across the store, basically, for God and everyone to hear.

“Did you see what that gossip rag published? ‘Caitlyn Jenner first time mother at 61’ He already has seven kids!”

I winced at the ‘he’, but I wasn’t really expecting anything different. This was my home town, not the college area I currently live in: people are gonna be like this.

Whoever they were talking to yelled back. “The kids were under the old identity. He has a new one so it’s the first kid.”

This person sounded like they had a better idea of what the whole trans identity business was about. But still. ‘He’.

I kind of scurried away after that, not wanting to say anything but not wanting to listen to it. I did catch the one employee saying something like “I heard Chloe still calls him Bruce.” I’m not sure about the truth behind that statement but either way, I was not comforted.

I got back to our table to tell Jessie where she was finishing up her post. She shared my discomfort and disgust but we just collectively rolled our eyes. It’s just typical, you know?

It just seems so precious to me that here Jessie and I were, trying to start a conversation online about equality and respect, and at the same time we’re doing this there are these random proprietors disrespecting a public trans person’s pronouns. Super casually.

Should we have spoken up? Stuck up for Caitlyn? Tried to educate these people on gender identity and trans rights? They were Barnes & Noble employees; that meant they at least had to value knowledge enough to hear what we had to say, right?

Did saying nothing, letting it go, make us bad allies to the trans community?

I’m going to give us the benefit of the doubt and say no, we’re not bad allies. In public situations like this, when dealing with strangers, there are times when you say something and times where you can give it a pass and then rant about it later on the internet. For me, the times you say something is if you feel someone in the area is in danger of being harmed by this language, or if the language is deliberately malicious rather than casually ignorant.

Neither of those things seemed to be happening in this scenario. Yeah, they were using the wrong pronouns and being loud enough to be heard by maybe a couple dozen patrons, but no one seemed to be deliberately attacking Caitlyn. There was no defamation of the trans community in general. It was kinda sticky. And it was public. We stayed out of it.

Will there be any lasting damage from our silence? I don’t think so. If there’s a repeat of this kind of language at this B&N, maybe I’ll say something. But it’s like what Jessie told me in the car when we were lamenting how to deal with misogynists on Facebook: “You’ve gotta pick your battles.” We feel like we’ll make more of an impact spreading our message in a controlled environment, like this blog, than fighting strangers at a book store.

Were we wrong? Would you have done differently? Let us know! I want to know if anyone else has a story like this one and how you handled it. Thanks.

-JM