If you think this post is about you, then it probably is.
Do you truly carry the lessons of Odd Fellowship in your heart and through your actions? Or are you an Odd Fellow only during Lodge and once you get in your car and return to your regular life you forget about it all until the next meeting?
There are many ways we can discuss incorporating the teachings of the Degrees into our daily lives, but I want to focus one one area today. Social Media.
Social Media has revolutionized how we interact with each other and a lot of it is negative and has given rise to a secret alter ego, the online troll. Some even think trolling is ruining the internet because it derails any quality discourse that is happening. I think we can all agree that posting on certain topics in a way that makes us feel superior to others who don’t share the identical views has never really gotten anyone anywhere. It is a form of baiting, you post something hoping someone of another opinion bites… and then let the trolling begin! Or you go searching for other people’s posts to troll on to your own delight. This applies to the spelling/grammar nazi trolls too! It is a comment thread you are gleefully pointing out errors on, not a formal dissertation.
We are all representatives of Odd Fellowship 27/7, and it kills me to see people that I know as good Odd Fellows posting things on Facebook that are judgmental, dismissive, and divisive. I know personal Odd Fellow related interactions are always positive with these folks yet it is easy to forget who is seeing what you post when you are shielded by the safety of the keyboard and screen of their online persona. It looks especially bad if your profile picture is Odd related and you are busily posting angrily about politics and how one side is a bunch of no good (insert insulting term) or how you hate (blanket stereotype group of people). Or the latest “you won’t believe” or “Milo/Ben Shaprio DESTROYS _________” click bait one sided “news” shocker from non real journalism source.
If you have posted anything like the above, (or any of the behaviors in this link) you are part of the problem.
Who would want to join an organization that had members that openly engage in this widespread form of online bullying. What do you get out of posting these things other than looking to feel like you know better than someone else and to put others down? It’s easy to post and laugh at other “keyboard warriors” as they attempt to battle ideologies. Why does it have to be a battle? Why do we have to “DESTROY” the other point of view?
Next time you see some politically charged article, or meme that you just HAVE to share….pause before hitting that button. And think how does this reflect on you if a Brother or Sister in a different part of the world sees your post? Will a Brother from Mexico or a Sister from Norway take pause next time they reach out to you? Will a LGBT member keep your posts in mind the next time they visit your Jurisdiction? Will your 50 year Members be proud of what you have been sharing and the language you have used?
Case in point. I am a tattoo artist and a couple years ago I was given some degree banners from a client as a tattoo tip. I was REALLY excited so I made a post about it with a pic of me holding my new treasures and said I have “the best f***ing clients!” The next day I got a phone call. Our Grand Master at the time had seen it and didn’t take too kindly to my profanity in association with anything Odd Fellows. I was embarrassed, I edited my post to be cleaner but the damage was done. I had upset our GM. I hadn’t even thought twice when I had posted the expletive that it would mean anything bad. I was honestly that excited. But even in a non “official” Odd Fellow capacity, I had done the Order wrong.
Click on your profile, is it filled with negative posts (regardless of what the topic is). If you were a person interested in joining Odd Fellows from a totally different social circle and your profile were the person they were going to contact, would you click friend request or be turned off? If you want to be a better Odd Fellow, think about extending the rules of Lodge into your online persona, “during which time we admit no political or sectarian debate.” Instead of posting something negative, when was the last time you posted about what your Lodge is up to? What have you done to use your platform to promote your love for the Order? By posting positivity you change how people view you online as a person. Our online personas are a distorted reflection of who we really are, and we have full control over that image. We can choose to come off as a total “drama queen”, or a “political extremist”, or a “closed minded bigot”…but we can also choose come off as “positive influence”, “motivated community leader”, “inspirational”, and “open minded and accepting”. Which would you prefer? I know which one I do. Feel free to add me on Facebook and see.