How to Get the Most Out of Facebook Groups

If you’re like me, you’re likely in at least a few groups on Facebook. Some of them may be private groups formed by your friends, some are based on your hobbies and interests, and some of them are for more professional improvement and/or networking.

Regardless of the purpose of the group, they all desire meaningful engagement, true community, and useful information. And depending on your bandwidth, your inner lurker status, and your inability to NOT comment, your activity on these groups will likely vary.

I know I may be bit of an outlier in that I spent 99.9% of my life on Facebook. (Judge me all you want – I’m right there with you.) I am in way too many Facebook Groups – including actively administrating several of my own groups.

Now, despite being in a bjillion Facebook groups, I am only active in 5-7 groups with varying degrees of participation. All the other groups, including some of my own, I am in as a lurker.

Personally, I think most people just lurk in groups and if they do happen to have the capacity to be actively engaged, they likely only do so in 1-3 groups. Any more and it becomes too overwhelming and they just quit all groups (or mute them) and only check in when they want an answer to a specific question and maybe scroll down for a few seconds to see if there’s anything else that might be useful or interesting.

I totally get it.

And I’m guessing that due to the limited nature of folks in Facebook Groups, most of us don’t know how to act – let alone act right.

So then, here are a few handy tips for you to get the most out of your Facebook Groups.

1) Read the group rules and guidelines. Follow them.

Look, I know you’re not going to be actively participating much, but don’t be that person who ruins it for everyone else.

Every group has their own dynamics and their rules for appropriate behavior. Most of it is common sense, but think of it like visiting someone else’s house. You can do whatever you want in your own house, but when you’re at someone else’s house?

Follow the house rules.

2) Before you ask a question, use the FACEBOOK search function. Better yet, GOOGLE FIRST. Then use the Facebook search function. Read the search results.

I get it. You might have questions. Burning questions. (Yes, it likely is an STI.) Questions that need to be answered RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

But if you stopped for even half a second before posting, you will likely realize that perhaps, you are not the first person in the world to have this question. And that it just might be possible that prior to your popping in, someone (or several someones) might have already asked this question and if you just did a quick search and actually read the results, your question would be answered.

Incidentally, when I say search first, I don’t mean search your EXACT SITUATION.

Like, if you are looking for books for your five year old girl who likes trucks and donkeys and ballerinas, don’t be searching for “five year old girl who likes trucks and donkeys and ballerinas” and then say, “I can’t find anything.”

THAT IS NOT HOW SEARCH WORKS.

You should also try multiple search terms. Why? Because as my friend, Dots, says, “Just because one search term failed does not absolve you of the responsibility to try some more.”

Also? I get that Facebook’s search function can be wonky and that depending on the device you’re using or day or whatever algorithm is in place, the search results will vary.

Guess what?

GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS VARY, TOO.

Google results ALSO vary from Bing or Yahoo! or Altavista (wait – is Altavista even still around?). The search results are STILL useful.

Speaking of Google – FFS, people. Use it. Facebook groups are not your personal AskJeeves or Yahoo! Answers.

What’s the big deal? Why am I such a meanie? Why do I relentlessly delete people’s repeat posts or comment and tell people to do a search already?

Several reasons:

a) You look like a jerk and possibly, really stupid.

I mean, just for self-preservation and wanting other people to help you, this should be minimized.

b) You are not entitled to other people’s time.

To not even bother searching or going through previous posts is incredibly rude. What you’re essentially saying is that your time is more important than other people’s time.

You’re telling people that the effort they made to answer this question before is worthless and that they should cater to your inability to do anything useful whatsoever. Not only that, you are expecting them to make this effort again. Just for you.

In one of the groups I admin, some folks have compiled very thorough and helpful posts/files that answer some frequently asked questions.

And guess what?

I shit you not, the VERY FIRST COMMENT on one of these posts is a question that would be answered had the commenter read one of the first few links IN that post.

That is NOT cool.

Other people are not your personal Google.

You are rude. You are being a jerk. Everyone wants you to die. Preferably in a large, explody BOOM.

This pisses people off. Members stop participating. Then the group dies.

Please don’t be that person.

c) It dilutes the usefulness of the group.

All the repeat questions clutter the feed of the group. As a result, members see that the group only discusses the same 3-4 topics repeatedly and the stuff that is actually interesting to them gets pushed down and never gets read or gets engagement.

Thus, people get bored and no longer participate. The group dies.

In addition, repeat questions clutter up the search results for people who actually use the search function. This makes it harder to find the answers to their questions.

And then, people find the group useless. And then the group dies.

d) It pisses people off and then groups die.

Sense a theme here?

Unless a group has a never ending supply of new members to both ask and answer questions, (confer the Instant Pot recipes group where people ask the same three questions over and over again), most groups have a finite number of people who are interested in a topic AND participate.

This is why admins bring down the hammer and insist members read and implement the group guidelines.

It’s not because they’re on a power trip and want to lord their authority over people. (Ok, it’s not ONLY because they’re on a power trip and want to lord their authority over people.)

Don’t be a group killer.

Don’t make the admins (and other members) hate you or use passive aggressive techniques to make you feel as stupid as you actually are being.

3) Explore and read.

Does the group have files? Are there archives? Pinned posts? Group descriptions?

Read them.

They’re there for a reason. People spent time to compile or write them. Show them the respect it deserves (even if the actual files might not be as useful as you hope).

Yes, I know it takes time. But it’s YOUR time. To do otherwise wastes OTHER people’s time.

I also browse through the photos, check out other recommended groups, FB stalk fellow members, and in general, click as many of the clicky parts of the group as possible.

This gives me a good idea of the tenor of the group and allows me to see if it’s a place I want to hang out virtually.

4) Follow directions.

Does the group require you to answer questions before you join? ANSWER THEM.

Personally, I deny all requests that do not answer group questions within the first 2-3 days.

Why? Because if they can’t be bothered to read and follow the very simple directions BEFORE they join a group, they can’t be bothered to read and follow directions AFTER they join the group.

No, thanks.

I don’t have time (despite living on Facebook) to deal with people who don’t respect my time or the time of group members.

5) Participate.

Yes, I get that not everyone has the luxury (or quite frankly, desire) to live on Facebook like I do.

I’m not saying you have to participate in EVERY single group. Or even in ANY.

But the likelihood of other people extending grace for missteps (and trust me, I have made many!) or taking time to answer your questions increases if you are a useful, active participant.

No one like takers. Be a giver.

Oh, and participate thoughtfully.

Don’t be that entitled mansplainer who has never once contributed anything useful or helpful but then, jumps in to tell the admins what they should be doing to make your life easier and then, when the admins thank you for volunteering to do the job because FUCK YOU for being such an entitled twat, you say that it’s too much for one person to do (but it seemed just FINE to have the admins do it by themselves) and then tell the group it should be crowd-sourced and then reap the rewards of other peoples’ work while you disappear again, all smug in your asshole-ishness.

To quote my friend, Irish Twins, “Think of it as a community. If you wouldn’t say it to a bunch of people in person, don’t say it in the group. Maybe a community pool. It’s great for swimming and socializing, but don’t take a dump in it. Help keep it clean. It’s ok to just sit on the sidelines.”

6) Don’t spam. Don’t post ads. 

I mean, unless the group is specifically for spamming and ads, don’t do it. Oh, and don’t do thinly disguised spam/ads, either.

People aren’t stupid. We can tell if it’s an actual helpful or useful post that benefits the group or is off topic.

Don’t be an asshole.

7) Make life easier for admins and moderators.

The admins and moderators do a lot of behind the scenes work and most of it is extremely tedious.

Honestly, sometimes it may seem as if an admin or moderator is on some power trip (and maybe they are). But in general, admins and moderators really don’t have the time to do so.

They have to read almost every single post and comment to make sure nothing is offensive or violates the community standards. They have to contact the members who do break the group guidelines and occasionally are on the receiving end of abuse as a result.

For instance, I give you this:

Here’s a protip: DON’T BE A RACIST SHITHEAD TO THE ADMIN.

Admins and moderators aren’t paid. They are volunteering their time to make sure no one is the drunk guy breaking things at a party. They just want to have a good time and eat and chat with their friends but inevitably, someone has to ruin it for everyone.

Don’t be that person.

Alternatively, if you end up being on good terms with the admins or moderators, they’ll likely cut you some slack on stuff and be more likely to be on your side if there is FB drama. (But please, don’t cause drama!)

8) The measure you give is the measure you receive.

Like all things in life, you get what you give.

Pick one group you particularly like and start participating – even if it’s just “likes.” It may feel weird to you at first, but you may find that the more you invest in the group, the more it will feel like your local watering hole.

9) Adjust your notification and feed settings accordingly.

There are some groups that I really don’t care to know about every single post. I don’t need to know of every single new Instant Pot recipe or repeat newbie question about rubber gaskets, but I definitely want to know the instant my friends post in our secret group.

So, depending on how much you enjoy (or hate) Facebook notifications or the clutter in your feed, you can change the specifications to what works for you.

Remember: Facebook groups are for YOUR benefit. You are not ruled by them!

Hmmmm. I feel as if this entire post could just be summed up by saying, “Don’t be a dick.”

But that would be a really short post.

Oooh! Ooooh! Also? “Don’t make other people think for you. Use your gorram brain.”

That’s it! I’m sure there are other more technical things that you can do to maximize your FB Group mojo, but like I said before, I’m not the most tech of persons. I’m just here for your emotional edification. (And FB Groups definitely can engage all your emotions.)

What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Dreaming of Who I Could Be

Every now and then, when I escape to the world at large without my children, I get a brief moment of disconnect. A blurry few seconds of a bad ass life accompanied by the thumping bass of the radio.

I imagine myself strutting.

Usually in a cropped, black leather moto jacket. With epaulets. The epaulets are important.

Then Reality crashes in and I remember that I hate jackets. I mean, I love ogling them and thinking about being the type of person who rocks awesome jackets as I also rock awesome boots and perhaps ride a motorcycle.

Imagine. Me. All sleek and sexy lines.

But I hate jackets.

I hate how they constrict my shoulders. I hate taking them on and off. The changing of temperatures. The putting of the jacket somewhere. The remembering to take the jacket home with you.

I own a lot of jackets but I never wear them.

It’s a good thing I live in a very temperate part of California.

Also? I’m terrified of motorcycles.

Anyhow. What was I saying before my tangent on jackets?

Ah, yes. This glimpse of a life that never was, that possibly could be, but probably won’t.

Here’s the thing. It isn’t the jacket or the boots or the makeup or the hair.

It’s the SWAG.

I have lost my swag.

Actually, did I ever really have it? Was there ever a time where I just felt like a BAMF and walked into a room feeling like I owned it and everyone should bow before my awesomeness?

I cannot ever recall feeling this way.

Maybe on my wedding day because if you don’t feel like a BAMF on your wedding day, I suppose that’s a sad thing.

Come to think of it, BAMF is the wrong descriptor for how I felt on my wedding day. I stand corrected.

This lack of BAMF-ness makes me sad. Because why shouldn’t I feel like I’m a badass? Why am I always walking around feeling like I’m an impostor?

I’m not saying I should walk around acting like an entitled prat, but you know, there must be some sort of socially acceptable in-between state, right? It shouldn’t be either feel like you don’t belong or feel like you’re better than everybody.

Do men go through this?

Is this something uniquely given to women?

I’m sure there are millions of articles on this subject. I probably have read most of them.

The problem is thus: I feel such a disconnect from who I really am and who I wish I could be. And on top of that, I feel bad because a lot of who I wish I could be would be attainable if only I put in the work. But I don’t want to put in the work!

So, I guess I don’t really want to be that person.

This is the hard part: to sift through all the things I think I want to get to the parts I really do want. And then to decide whether or not I want it badly enough to put in the work. And then when I do put in the work, to not get discouraged by the discomfort of actually working.

There are way too many steps in this.

And who is to say that what I think I want will make me happy? Or happier than what I am now?

But I suppose, if I never give it a shot, I will never know. And that the FOMO will perhaps eat me up inside, full of regret and resentment.

I guess it’s time to stretch and grow and all that other good cliché stuff. Who’s with me?

Learning to Be Human

(Trigger Warning: Physical and emotional abuse.)

I am afraid to talk about why I am angry with my mother.

Well, I’m not currently angry with her.

By that I mean I’m not actively mad at her. Like, she hasn’t done anything to incur my wrath or anger. She has been her normal, wonderful self.

But.

am mad about a lot of things from when my brother and I were growing up.

I am very angry about it, in fact.

So angry that though I have been aware of these feelings for quite some time, I rarely allow even more than a blip of it to manifest.

Even now, when I have discussed it occasionally with my therapist, Dr. T, I only skim the surface of my anger.

I am very afraid.

I am afraid that if I think about it, dig it out, and look it in the eye, that I will be so angry that I will not be able to be around my mother, whom I love.

I am afraid that if we ever talk about it, I will explode and then it will ruin what I find to be a perfectly acceptable relationship with my mother. That it will play into the same script of how my mother and I handle conflict with each other.

That it will justify her insistence that I am just like my father.

I am afraid because I love her and love the relationship she has with my children and if I break it, then my children will lose out on her presence in their lives.

I am afraid even as I write this piece. There is a pit of dread in my stomach. I have been circling around this topic for years and I want to vomit just typing these words on screen.

My fingers are trembling.

I am deeply afraid.

When I was a child, I adored my father.

He was so fun and exciting. He told the best jokes, was the life of every party, was so clever and smart and big and handsome and larger than life.

He was everything to me.

I loved my mother, of course. But in my memory, she’s not really there. Not because she wasn’t present, but she seems to me a shadow in the background. How could I even see her in the shade of my father, the sun?

Of course, it wasn’t fair. My father went back to Taiwan to work when I was in the fifth grade and was gone for months at a time. My mother was left to be a single parent, supporting us, providing for us, doing everything for us – including the hard part of parenting us.

My father would come back for two weeks every three months and be fun, take us on trips, play games, injecting life into our family.

How could she possibly compete?

I did not know that even then, he was already having affairs and deceiving us.

How could I? My mother never told me.

Sometime in the intervening years, I placed my mother on a pedestal. She was the victim in our family saga. The injured. The wronged.

If anyone dared criticize her, I would be inflamed and respond in a rage.

She was the offended party. How dare anyone make any remarks on her choices? She did the best she could! She was so young! She was alone! Her Taiwanese and Chinese Christian culture trapped her!

YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND HER HOW DARE YOU JUDGE HER?!?

And of course, those circumstance are still true; still valid.

But it is no longer enough.

It is no longer a narrative that fits.

It no longer fits because it is not entirely true.

It is not the whole of it.

Part of the reason it is so hard for me to think about my anger at my mother is because I am such an extreme person. In my mind, you are either a good person or a bad person. Hero or villain. Perfect or damned.

There is no room to be human.

I have cast my family narrative with my mother as the victim, my father as villain, and my brother and I as the supporting characters. The clever children upon whom plot points hinge, but never the main characters.

Only my father had agency. The rest of us revolved around him and reacted to whatever bombs he exploded into our lives.

But that is not true, either.

The other day, Dr. T expressed surprise that I described my father as so full of life, so fun, so vibrant. She said up until that point, I had always described my father as a horrible human being.

I have been seeing Dr. T for three years.

This is how deeply I have entrenched myself in this narrative.

My father, the devil himself. The consummate con artist. The truly terrible person my mother thinks I am exactly like.

I am afraid to poke around the anger I hold of my mother because it doesn’t fit the narrative I have created in order to cope with my father’s abuse and her role in it.

I am afraid to talk about how she utterly failed to protect me and my brother from my father because I can feel the rage and despair and fear and hurt and bewilderment rising in my chest, lodging itself there because I refuse to break down weeping in public where I am writing this.

I am afraid because though she was young and afraid and so many things I will never fully understand, she failed.

She failed her fundamental job as a mother: to keep us safe.

She did not protect us from my father. She kept us in his thrall. She taught us to lie and pretend to everyone that everything was okay. That we were safe.

She stayed with him for 36 years.

She, more than my father, more than anyone else in my life, she taught me how to lie.

And to add insult to injury, she does not remember. Claims she never knew. Has the audacity to react indignantly and say, “What kind of father would do this?”

What kind of mother allows a father to do this to her children?

What kind of mother then forgets? 

I tell you this truth.

If Hapa Papa or anyone (including myself) ever treated my children the way my father treated my brother and me, they would no longer exist in the realm of the living. I would have removed them.

In fact, the only reason I would allow them to live unharmed is because if I did end them, my children would be taken from me.

I am afraid to see my mother as human.

If she is human, then my father might be, also.

If he is human, then I might have to re-consider my decision to cut him out of my life.

If I have to re-consider my decision to cut him out of my life, I have to re-examine my childhood, his role in it, and then, my mother’s role in it, and then, I might have to encounter my anger again.

It is a vicious cycle.

Despite my mother never outright saying to my face that I’m just like my father, I know, to the core of my very being, that that is what she believes.

She does not have to say it.

It is all over her face. It is in how she responds to conflict with me – no matter how minor.

My brother and I can say the exact same thing to her and she will get mad at me but then turn around and do what my brother suggests.

It is a slap in my face. A constant reminder of how my mother really sees me.

If my mother believes I am my father, how can it not be true?

Dr. T suggested a few weeks ago that because I believe I am my father, this root belief makes it really hard to change my outward behavior with my children. That I have several deeply rooted beliefs that make it difficult to change because ultimately, my subconscious rejects all my attempts at a new identity.

She posits that part of the reason I refuse to see my father as human is because that way, I’m justified in continuing to reject him. (Note, she is not suggesting that I allow my father back into my life. Just that my reasons are manifold.)

Also, because I believe that I’m just like him, that I am literally cutting him off in an attempt to cut it out from myself and avoid the pain of this belief in my life.

But I am not my father – no matter what my mother says.

No matter what my brain says.

Because if I were my father, every time my mother pissed me off or said something I didn’t like, I would literally try to silence her by ending her life. I would try to smother her with a pillow or stick a butcher knife to her throat or wrap my hands around her throat and squeeze.

If I were my father, I would hit my children in the face, slapping their glasses clear across the room when they talked back at me. I would throw their plates in their faces or into their laps or on the floor when they refused to eat their dinner. I would spank them so hard over minor infractions that their bottoms would have welts and would require salves.

If I were my father, I would have Hapa Papa force my children to apologize to me for getting me so mad that I hurt them. I would have my children swallow all my abuse and then make them apologize to me for it. I would never apologize to my children or take steps to get better.

If I were my father, I would lie all the time just because I could. I would connive to make myself the victim in every situation and resent the success of my friends and family. I would do everything in my power to create the illusion of success and power and control.

If I were my father, I would have endless affairs and then when Hapa Papa finally demanded the truth, I would blame him for making me hurt him with the truth. I would blame everyone except myself. I would never take responsibility for anything in my life.

That my mother believes I would respond like my father wounds me.

I am deeply insulted.

I am furious.

I make light of it instead.

I am excellent at deflection.

When I first started seeing Dr. T, she mentioned that I avoid feelings and that I was not in touch with them at all.

I was so pissed off.

I discussed it with my friends and we all agreed that it was a ridiculous statement.

Of course I felt things. Of course I was in touch with them. I was a writer for fuck’s sake. I wrote about my feelings all the time! What the hell was Dr. T talking about?

Clearly, she had no idea what she was doing. Perhaps I should find a new therapist.

Now, years later, I finally realize what she has been saying all along, in multiple ways, as kindly as possible.

This last year or so, I have been considering stopping therapy. It takes a lot of time, costs a lot of money, and creates disruption for my children and for Hapa Papa.

But mostly, it was because I had fallen into a routine of just talking to Dr. T about my week and daily life and nothing seemed to be happening on the surface and I was better than when I started going to see her so maybe I could stop soon?

This fall, I cut back to every other week. And though at the beginning of this year, I mentioned I wanted to talk more about my anger with my mom as well as my relationship with Gamera, I still kept reverting to talking about my week.

Anytime the subject started scratching the surface of deeper feelings about my mother or my daughter, I would make a joke or change the subject and lalalalala until our session ended.

I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

It was deeply unsatisfying.

It is hard for me to see my children as human. (Truthfully, I have a hard time seeing anyone as human.)

I mean, obviously, they are humans, but I have an incredibly difficult time seeing them as human – with the full range of emotions accorded to humans.

It is especially difficult with Gamera because FFS she is SO EMOTIONAL all the fucking time. Just get it together already! (But don’t repress yourself!) BUT OMG FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY PLEASE STOP CRYING.

My mother has occasionally mentioned that I was a rebellious teenager. I would brush the statement off but recently, the thought of her saying this makes me incredibly angry.

She thought I was a rebellious teenager? Why? Because I didn’t agree with every single thing that came out of her mouth? Because we would have disagreements and fight?

I cannot even fully put into words how mad this makes me.

Our family was a wreck. She was rarely home. Neither was my father. And when they were, they fought and my father was violent.

We had all the risk factors for me and my brother turning out spectacularly badly.

I was a good kid. Didn’t do drugs. Wasn’t sexually promiscuous. Got excellent grades. Hung out with the “good” kids. Was a youth leader at church.

I was a textbook model child but because we argued and fought and I wanted to do things they didn’t want me to do, I was “rebellious.”

You know what?

My mother was lucky.

She was lucky that my brother and I turned out as well as we did. She was lucky that despite my parents’ inadequate parenting and terrible marriage, that we grew into reasonably well-adjusted adults with healthy marriages and families of our own.

She was so fucking lucky that I cannot adequately express my fury and disdain and disbelief that she believes I was rebellious as a teenager and that I am still the rebellious one.

I know I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating.

My father used to punish me for my perceived thoughts.

If he was being an asshole, or even just doing his job as a parent, and I was angry about it, even if I didn’t say it and just had 臉色 (lian3 se4) – a Chinese expression describing a mutinous face – he would say, “I know what you’re thinking and you’re wrong.”

I would get punished for things I didn’t say, or possibly, even think.

Last session, Dr. T mentioned that as a child, I was not allowed to be human.

I was not allowed to have or express a normal range of emotions. I was not allowed to be mad or cry or whatever else it was I was feeling. I wasn’t even allowed to have thoughts that were my own. I was only allowed to be what my parents expected and wanted.

And then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.

I was like, OMG I AM DOING THAT TO GAMERA!!

I started laughing because of course. It was hilarious. And ironic.

And then I stopped laughing because it was and is so fucking sad.

It is so hard for me to trust and acknowledge Gamera’s pain and emotions. I sucked it up so why can’t she?

And so, I do to Gamera the same thing that was done to me.

I am uncomfortable with emotions because I never really had the safety or the space to be human.

My parents didn’t model to me what it meant to be human. They did not teach me how to deal with the chaos they created – let alone the maelstrom of normal teenage emotions.

We were a family constructed of lies and denial. How could the honesty of feelings and emotions survive?

As an adult, I now deflect pain or discomfort by being funny or getting mad because they are easy and acceptable emotions for me to reach. They are my armor, protecting me so I rarely have to allow myself to feel pain or take my pain seriously.

Even in therapy, where I am paying $160 an hour to work through my shit, I deflect a lot of my grief and constantly make jokes, trivializing truly terrible things.

I want better for my children. For my precious Gamera.

She is not even six years old (although close enough). My job is to teach her how to be human and how to feel things even if they’re inconvenient.

Perhaps especially when they’re inconvenient.

And yes, to figure out how NOT to cry all the time but somehow not have her repress her emotions and hate herself and who she is and why she has these big emotions even though it seems overblown and ridiculous to me. And sometimes, to distract her out of a rut of screaming and crying.

But mostly, just to tolerate it and let her be. To resist the urge to shut her down and tell her to suck it up.

To let her live.

To be human.

To give her the gift of the fullness of her humanity even if it triggers every single button I have from a lifetime of self-protection.

Perhaps then, I can also give that same gift to my mother, to my father, and most importantly, to myself.

Thank you, friends, for giving me the space to be human.