I had what seemed to be an encounter of the strange kind on Facebook last night when I posted what I considered to be a funny remark I overheard at the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. I included the photo you see above this post as an illustration.
The speaker at the luncheon, who specializes in helping small businesses get up and running as part of the Small Business Administration, shared some startling information. It seems that Americans dependency on the manufacture of products in other countries has reached the point that 90-percent-plus of all the men's underwear sold in retail stories in this country come from foreign countries, mostly Asia.
In response, one member of the audience who likes to crack jokes said, "I'm going to rip mine off right now," which drew a lot of laughter. (And no, I'm not the one who said that, although I admit it does sound like something I might say.)
The speaker pointed out that many Americans are beginning to realize that we probably need to again start manufacturing more of our own products in light of our struggling economy and high unemployment rate.
He noted that one company in the United States by the name of Flint and Tinder had started manufacturing men's underwear for this reason, and it was adding other products to its line. I looked up the website and discovered to my horror that a pair of men's made-in-America briefs cost about $25 each.
I didn't get into all of the specifics of the prices, etc., but I did think I would like to share with my Facebook friends that all of the men's underwear comes from foreign countries. And I wanted to share the guy's joke because I still thought it was funny.
This morning I was shocked to discover that someone had complained about me posting this photo and apparently relating the joke. The people who can see my posts are limited to my Facebook friends so I can't imagine who would have been offended by it.
Facebook informed me I was blocked from posting anything for 12 hours because I had violated the group's "community standards." I assumed that they meant the photo was too racy, but it seems so mild and representative of what can be seen on TV daily and in magazines, catalogs and newspapers that I was confused.
Now, I suspect that the reprimand resulted not as a result of the photo or the joke, but that the post inadvertently came across as a prejudicial statement to someone.
I sent Facebook a message asking for clarification, and within the hour I received an e-mail from someone I don't know who told me I was a "disgusting bigot" and a "repulsive hypocrite." I can't prove the message came from a Facebook employee as it was sent to my e-mail account and only contained the signature of an individual, but the timing seemed suspicious.
I also should mention that I recently complained about a short-lived consumer relationship with StraightTalk.com because the service failed to work. I noted that I spent two hours talking with seven people in a Philippines call center in a fruitless attempt to resolve the issue before going back to AT&T. Every person I spoke to told me something different about why I couldn't get my phone to work. It was especially confusing at times because of all the background chatter and poor telephone line connections. If the service had worked, there would not have been any problem.
I've still got another couple of hours to go before I can post again on Facebook, but I'm thinking maybe I don't want to be a part of it anymore. I've seen all kinds of pictures posted and things said on Facebook that I would never repeat, but I never complained about it. I just deleted the person who posted it from my group of friends if I found it that offensive.
If someone doesn't like what I have to say, why not just talk to me about it? I'm a reasonable person. If I say something that makes me sound like I am a bigot I would appreciate knowing it because I'm not.