Most of the people I know who are group or page admins on Facebook have thoughts about giving it up. I do. It’s not easy, and more people can mean more problems. Spam posts, comments, and messages. People who openly defy page or group rules. Deciding when to shut down a thread that is going sideways. Banning people. I know. I’ve curated a book page for three years that has grown to a community of 35,000.
The headaches are well known. There is another side–the things that make it worth it. I thought I would share a few of those. Online spaces can be good spaces when we work together to make that happen. Here are some of the things that bring joy:
- Knowing that the page has made at least a bit of a difference in someone’s life. It was heartening when someone jotted a note saying that our page was one of the things that was helping them get through the pandemic.
- I love when I see people helping each other out. They share enough about a book and what they love that another person finds the next book they want to read.
- It gives me joy when I see people trying to learn from their disagreements, asking questions rather than flinging arguments past each other.
- It is a delight when people from different cultures share books and ideas that may be new to others of us. I’m glad when others take note and affirm them.
- I like it when people can have fun with something that is fun and not feel they have to pontificate or disagree.
- I enjoy reading threads where no one feels the need to leave comments like, “I never read anything by Steinbeck, in fact I really don’t like to read, but just thought I ought to say something.”
- It’s fun when someone adds an article or quote or even thought that is totally on point and enlarges the discussion.
- I like it when people on the page invite their book-loving friends to join the fun. It is encouraging when people think our page is a good enough place that they aren’t embarrassed to share it with their friends.
- My heart is touched when someone shares about hard things they are going through and others care without trying to “fix’ them.
- I’m grateful for a day when I haven’t had to delete spam comments or messages or ban anybody. But I’m glad to keep our growing “neighborhood” a good and safe place.
None of this is about numbers or platforms or making money. It is about shared conversation around a shared interest–in my case, books. I’ve learned about new authors and read some of them. Most of all, it has been a rich community of very different people–not perfect but pretty good (do we ever get better than that, at least this side of eternity?). While I created and admin the page, I like to call it “ours” because the others who are part of the community help make it what it is. Despite the hassles, I’d say this, and pages or groups like it, are some of the best things on Facebook. And when you find one, be sure to thank the admin who works to make that happen. When people do that, it makes my day.