Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 34. Oh, my goodness! And today we are going to talk about how to stay safe in a Facebook group. Yes, I said that. How does stay safe in a Facebook group.

What is up, ladies and gentlemen, how are you doing today? I hope all is well. Thank you for joining me and spending some time with me today. I wanted to remind you that you can download the transcript of this episode and of most episodes of this podcast on my website.

If you go to hadarshemesh.com/influency-podcast and then you just choose an episode, you will be able to click on the button “Transcript”. Very surprising, I know. Very, very surprising, unpredictable. That’s me. I’m unpredictable. If you click on Transcript, you will get the transcript. No email needed. So you can practice with me. And just read, um, the words as I’m saying them, which is kinda nice. And that’s the first thing I wanted to say.

Another thing is I’m planning to make a podcast episode where I answer questions from listeners, and I actually want to bring your voice to the podcast because I think it’s very valuable when I hear you asking the question. And I want to include you in the podcast because why should I be the one doing all the talking? That’s simply unfair.

So I added a feature on my website, again, hadarshemesh [that’s my last name, and it means ‘sun’] .com/influency-podcast, or you can just click the link in the description and go to ‘Ask Hadar’ up there in the menu. And there you’ll be able to just simply upload a recording, an audio recording of you asking me the question.

So I’m going to have a Q&A episode where I play the question and answer it. So if you have any questions for me, you can just record it. Just make sure that the recording is clear, not a lot of background noise, cause otherwise, I won’t be able to use it.

And ask your question, whether it be a pronunciation question or something about English, or confidence. Just please, don’t ask me any questions about grammar. Okay? I’m, I just don’t enjoy answering grammar questions. And I don’t even know the answer sometimes.

Okay, so that is it about ‘Ask Hadar’.  And also I want to let you know that I have a TikTok account. I was resisting it, I was not watching, I didn’t even have the app. I didn’t even know what it’s about. But then I downloaded it and it’s so freaking cool and funny. Even though I’m not a teenager. Yes, I know.

So I’m going to try and upload a pronunciation video there every single day that is up to one minute. And if you have TikTok, then come follow me. I’m at @hadarshemeshenglish. Yes, as simple as that. So come on over there and follow me if you want your daily pronunciation lesson. Okay.

Now, before we move on to this week’s topic, which is a very, very important topic because I have a Facebook group, as you all know, it’s my beautiful InFluency community. If you’re not a member, I invite you to join us. But as cool and awesome as it is, we’ve seen some crappy things over there: negative comments, harassment, sexual harassment, verbal sexual harassment.

And I am not tolerant of that. Like there is zero tolerance for such behavior. But we don’t always catch it on time. And I’ve come to realize that the members of the community, they don’t report it as they should, especially the women in our community. They don’t report it as they should because they just don’t feel like it’s a nice thing to do or they’re uncomfortable doing it, or they think that it’s okay and they can put up with it.

And that’s like a big no-no. So I decided to create this video mainly for the members of my community to make sure that they feel safe and empowered 100% of the time. And yes, that’s a high bar that I’m setting up for myself, but 100% of the time, because any negative comment is not welcome there.

And I’m not talking about constructive criticism. I’m talking about negative comments, trolling, marriage proposals, which we’ve seen quite a few of them. I actually get a lot of marriage proposals, by the way, over email, on YouTube, sometimes on Facebook messenger. I mean, it’s very varied. So for those who send me a marriage proposal – no. Simply, the answer is no.

Okay. But this is just an example of how inappropriate people can be. Now, I can handle it. This is just like, this is my bread and butter. I have fun with it. Sometimes I even respond to them and I say ‘yes’. No, I’m kidding.

But, um, but for some people, this is extremely offensive and aggressive. And sometimes it’s a lot harsher and aggressive than just a marriage proposal, right? And I want my community to always feel safe, especially the ladies at my community.

But I also know that you might be a part of other communities on Facebook, other groups, especially English learning groups. And I wanted to create this episode for you to know that you have the tools to handle it, and you should never, ever, ever put up with anything that makes you feel unsafe. Okay?

So, that’s it. Let’s listen to the audio version of my YouTube video that I released on the same day of this podcast, about online bullying and how to create a safe space for you to practice English online. So, let’s listen.

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.