I go to Facebook to connect with people I've lost physical contact with over the years. I've had to move several times across the country and life has drastically changed for me since I left California. I connect on Facebook every day to communicate with and support those who I don't see in person very much anymore or not at all. Like everyone on Facebook, I still want to keep up with friends and family, their lives, their stories and their struggles.
When I lived in Silicon Valley I used to hate Facebook, and I mean "hate" equaled sickened. I felt I saw what Facebook was really about up close every day as I passed the Mercedes and BMWs on my commute to my toddler's expensive preschool ~ the "Facebook.com" craze just another chance for the venture capital firms in Silicon Valley and the wealthy to get even wealthier because of an ad-driven business/sales model. It was the anti-Craigslist to me (shout out to Craigconnects), a site and concept I dearly loved and respected for its integrity to not sell-out its business model. I still remember in the early Eighties in San Francisco when you could, but didn't have to, send Craig a $10 check if you wanted to list a job opening on his bulletin-board style (electronic) list.
But fifteen months ago, I saw the power of social networking come to life in an entirely new way, something I'd never seen or experienced before. I finally witnessed the power of what "community" does for those who are suffering unimaginable loss, those who are isolated, those who sometimes experience both multiple losses combined with isolation. The support I saw pour out and into my dear friend and mentor, Crescent Dragonwagon, via the Facebook page Fearless Love for Crescent Dragonwagon is the proof of what electronic 'social' communities can do to support someone in their darkest hour. Sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter are founded on this model, of course, and our GoFundMe effort (shout to Tammy Johnson, Angelic Rodgers and Renee Rodgers) for Crescent kept her not only afloat financially in those first horrific days and weeks, but emotionally in the months and year that followed. I only witnessed this support, the hope that it gave to her -- I can never fully begin to understand how it felt to live and breath that hope after multiple loss, not just one home, but two, not just one person, but two people, who she loved and lived with and cared for daily.
When I think of how many people suffer social harassment for just trying to be who they are or who they want to be, those who have been targeted on Facebook and kicked off of it because of the name they most identify with, it turns my stomach and gets my blood bubbling. I've had a name my whole life that I NEVER identified with but finally, and thanks to this dear man, Jon Kastl, embraced. The name was there all along, but I could not see it until he saw it and said it first, the last letters of my given name. I find myself writing emails to various people these days after the death of my mother, using all 3 of the names I am known by to family, friends and in my working/professional life and life as a parent. This is why the #MyNameIs movement is so near and dear to me... I am finally able to identify as myself because of those 4 simple letters: d i d a. In this way, I also saw how Crescent was made to suffer isolation and loss all over again simply because of her interesting and unique name.
It amazed me, though, how fast people came to her aid and supported the Reinstate Crescent Dragonwagon Facebook page, within hours almost 300 people had liked the page I set up. It gave me even more hope than ever that this platform of people could make a significant difference in one person's life. Imagine what one *billion* Facebook users can do to change the world and improve it. Our age of technology driven communities must support NOT alienate people. It must empower, not further abuse, those who suffer isolation and threats of violence on a daily basis. Lil Miss Hot Mess and Sister Roma and their community of LGTBQ know all too well how it feels to be alienated and targeted by bullies and bigots, their First Amendment rights violated regularly.
Please join me and write to Facebook under the "Report A Problem" option. Give them your feedback on "Let us know how we can improve your experience with Facebook." Select Privacy as the category of "product" they ask you to select, and tell them to stop "fake name reporting." Fake name reporting punishes identities not destructive behavior. So, turn off the ads, Facebook, and turn up the user support for ALL of your users. And read the stories of the users you discriminate against because of the fake name reporting option on Facebook. There are better ways to punish or stop abusive users who spread hate and violence in the Facebook community. A "name policy" should never infringe on anyone's First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and identity.
#MyNameIs = FirstAmendmentRights.