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The Ugly Side of English Learning Facebook Groups

There are a lot of wonderful groups on Facebook whose goal is to allow people to practice their English, and as in the case of any other group online, there are some things you need to know, especially if you’re a woman, in order to stay safe and active in the group.

1. You don’t need to put up with anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

2. You have any right to stand your ground and respond to any harassing or offensive comments. Speak back, and report to the admin or moderators of the group.

3. As a community member, if you encounter any inappropriate irrelevant comment or behavior towards other members, offer your support, comment on that, and report to the admin/moderators. Make it a safe environment for everyone.

4. You don’t have to respond to private messages and friend requests. Feel free to ignore them if they’re unwelcome, and if they’re rude or aggressive – report and by all means block them.

5. Limit your time online. Keep in mind that while online groups and resources can be very helpful, they’re also pretty time-consuming. In addition, make sure you’re pro-active, and that you’re not just there for passive learning.

TRANSCRIPT

Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today we are going to talk about how to stay safe in a Facebook group.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “How is English related to Facebook?” Well, as you may or may not know, on Facebook you can find a ton of awesome groups that are aimed at helping you improve your English, whether it’s groups that provides you with learning resources, or finding conversation partners, or just as a practice platform.

I myself have a community on Facebook. It’s called the InFluency community and you’re invited to join, of course. But when you join such a group, there are a few things that you need to know, especially if you’re a woman.

And this is what I’m going to talk about today because my message goes first and foremost for my community members. That I want them to stay safe cause we as moderators and admins, we try to keep everyone really safe. But sometimes it’s hard because there are things that we don’t see.

So I want you to know that from our perspective as well, and to know what are the things that you can do to stay safe and feel empowered, and feel supported, and feel like you’re actually making a difference without having to push away negative comments, and harassment, and everything around it.

So I’m going to talk about online safety, but I’m also going to talk about how to use your time on Facebook so you’re not sucked into it, and you spend hours and hours just like browsing through different posts without getting a lot out of it. And then you think that it’s your English practice, but it’s not really. So we’re going to talk about that at the end.

So, about staying safe on Facebook. I want to start, and again, this message is for the ladies in particular. Of course, this is for you as well if you are a guy and you have been harassed before, or got negative comments. Because, of course, it’s possible. But I find that women are being harassed a lot more. And like, usually, the people who do that to them, they don’t even think that they’re doing anything wrong.

So instead of teaching people how to behave, I’m going to teach you how to keep yourself safe online. So first of all, you need to know that you don’t need to put up with anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. You always have a choice.

So whether you post something, you comment or you make a video and upload it to the group, you do not deserve to get negative comments. If someone is commenting on your looks, or if you’re married, or if you are looking for a boyfriend, or you want to conversation partner, and you feel that it’s not genuine and you feel, and sometimes we think that “Oh, they just want to practice”, and that’s okay.

But then you have this feeling inside of you that it’s not just that, right? Like you, women know that, women know when it’s not genuine. Because a genuine invitation for conversation starts from small talk and starts from interaction, not just by someone posting a video or a post and then having someone else respond to it.

So you got to identify it and don’t just try to be nice to everyone and pay a high price. Because I have seen so many women posting and being active, and they got so much crappy comments and harassment, that they decided just to quit altogether. And they left all Facebook groups.

And that doesn’t benefit you, so you need to be able to speak back and comment back without feeling that it’s not okay. You have permission to stand your ground and to say, “I don’t accept such a comment, and neither should the moderators, or neither should the admins”. Okay?

So, report negative comments, speak back and trust that you will have the support of the community and the admins. And this message is also for those who observe such behavior. If you see other people commenting inappropriate things or things that are not related to the context of the person’s post or video, you can also report it.

You can also comment on it. You can also say, “Hey, this doesn’t belong here”. Because we want to be there for our other friends, and we want to make sure that it’s a safe environment. Because today it’s her video, tomorrow it’s going to be yours.

So it’s really, really important that we let the people who make us feel bad, who have those negative comments, who are there just to put us down, that they don’t belong here, or there, or whatever Facebook group you’re in.

And it’s really not just about a Facebook group. It can be anywhere online. You just need to remember that you shouldn’t put up with any &$!#%. Another thing that usually happens, and this is something that people don’t usually discuss, is private messages.

So you join a group, you start interacting, you start commenting on people’s videos or posts. Maybe you write your own posts, maybe you upload a video, and then you start getting private messages from people who just want to be your friend, right? Or friend requests.

And “Would you like to be my conversation partner?” “Would you like to practice English together?” Now, again, it’s not only, but usually, it’s men who write to women. And this is, again, a place that I want to tell you that you don’t have to respond to all of those messages. Because it starts that way and very easily it could escalate to harassment. I have seen it way too many times.

I’ve heard about it from my community members way too many times, and this is why I’m generalizing here. And I’m saying, do not respond to private messages. Just don’t. You have two tools to help you with that. One – ignore messages, where you can just, where you stop seeing all that person’s messages, and that’s it. And they don’t even know that.

Two – if they’re being rude and aggressive, cause that happens too – block. That’s it. Block, ignore messages. Do that. Don’t try to explain yourself, don’t try to respond, do not try to be nice. There is no room for being nice when you’re being harassed.

And you have to understand that consistent persistent messages without you’re responding, or you’re saying “No thank you”, and you get another request and another request, is harassment. And a lot of times people, women in particular, don’t report it. And they don’t think there is something wrong about it, and they just quit. You do not need to lose because of other people’s rude behavior, or aggressive behavior. Okay?

And really, I’m speaking from the bottom of my heart because I’ve seen women no longer engaged in interacting in a group because of that, because of private messages. So this does not need to happen to you. Ignore messages or block that person. And if that person is being rude, aggressive, or they’re harassing you, you also need to report him or her, if it’s a woman, to the admins of the group. Because that person shouldn’t be in the group. And if they stay in the group, leave the group. Okay?

Now, that was about safety on Facebook. But you also need to save your time, so let’s talk about that type of safety. And that’s for everyone, men and women. Because you have to remember that when you go into those Facebook groups, while they’re very, very helpful, and a great resource and a great place to meet people, you want to make sure that you are proactive.

Because it’s very, very easy to just get sucked into the social media rabbit hole and just watch other people’s content, start feeling bad about your own achievements and your own abilities and your own level of English. And then start comparing yourself to others, um, and just consume content. And that’s passive learning. It’s not even learning, it’s just social media, right?

Don’t fool yourself that scrolling down the feed in a Facebook group is helping you learn English. Cause a lot of times it’s not. Unless you’re proactive, unless you take the content that you get from there and you do something about it. Unless you create your own content, you write your own post, you write on people’s posts, but you do stuff that are more than just emoji or, “Great job”. Something that will challenge you.

So you have to challenge yourself cause no one will be there to tell you what to do. And you have to manage your time and manage the things that you do there and the things that you get from there. And not only it’s going to help you as a learner – because you will be creating content, having people wanting to interact with you – you will also contribute to the community as a whole.

So this is something that you need to keep in mind and also, make sure to limit your time on Facebook when it comes to English learning. Because again, it’s very valuable, but probably other things that you might be doing, like actual practice, speaking with people, doing speech exercises – that would move you more forward than just consuming content. Okay?

Now here’s what I want from you. I want you to let me know in the comments below a great Facebook story about someone that you met, a video that you watched, a great group that you are in. And share it with us in the comments below.

So let’s bring all the positive stuff and remind ourselves how lucky we are to have this online platform, especially at a time like this. Where we need to go inside and hide, and social distance ourselves from others because this is the Corona crisis. But we can still interact with each other using those Facebook groups. It’s just how we use them that matters.

Thank you so much for watching. And again, if you want to be a part of the InFluency community on Facebook, then come on over and make sure you answer the questions cause we do accept only people who answer both questions. And be a part of the weekly conversations, weekly activities, and a lot of fun stuff.

So take care, be safe, and I’ll see you in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
34. The Ugly Side of English Learning Facebook Groups 👺
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