Avoid the Facebook Debate: How to Effect Change Online & IRL for School Safety and Everything Else


I made the mistake of engaging with a family member about a meme he shared on Facebook. In real life, I’ve known this guy my whole life and love him, but our Facebook personas do not see eye to eye. I’m not even sure we’re in the same room or on the same planet. I pointed out that the meme he posted was really an argument in favor of gun control, not against it like he intended. Our conversation was civil but fruitless, so I backed away. 

From that exchange, I got tagged in a totally different post by a totally different person. This one was only tangentially related to the gun debate, and it was blatantly fake news: a ten-second clip of a Chris Rock stand up routine taken entirely out of context claiming he was advocating for more white kids to get shot. The commenters on this one were irate and nasty, and I was in genuine disbelief that they were falling for this outright propaganda. I extracted myself from this nonsense too, remembering the classic Mark Twain quote, “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” But I didn’t stop there.


The post was so irresponsible, so blatantly racist, so completely inaccurate that it shouldn’t be ignored – I reported it to Facebook. Facebook says this helps train its algorithms to watch out for bad content. I don’t know if it’s a losing battle, considering how much of this junk is floating around and how quickly it spreads, but at least it’s something easy that we can all do from the comfort of our own phones.

Here’s how:

In the upper right corner of the Facebook post, click on the three horizontal dots and the following options will drop down. Click on “Report post.” 

Facebook will ask you why you’re reporting the post, and you get to choose your reason. In this case, “It’s a false news story.” 

That’s all you have to do. It’s that simple and a way more effective use of your time than engaging in a time- and energy-sucking online tussle. Let’s face it. Anyone who’s spreading this stuff isn’t interested in a rational mature conversation anyway. 

In Real Life

March for Our Lives Movement

The teenagers from Stoneman Douglas High School who survived last week’s shooting have organized the March for Our Lives rally and have inspired other action across the nation.

On March 14, the #Enough National School Walkout is calling for all students, teachers, school administrators, and parents to participate in the #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10:00 AM across every time zone. There will also be a rally held at the State Capitol to bring attention to the issue.

Then, the March for Our Lives takes place on Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Washington D.C.  Sister marches are happening across the country, including right here in San Francisco at 1:00 PM in front of City Hall. 

Can we take a minute to marvel at how quickly this march organized across the entire country? I’m sitting here still trying to process the toxic Facebook altercation I had, and these teens have sparked the national movement, #NeverAgain. 

Show up, donate, and/or volunteer for the event. There are lots of ways to help. 

*As we hear of more coordinated activities related to the movement, we’ll add them here.

Contact Your Congressional Representatives

Modern technology has made this ridiculously easy to do. Leverage Resistbot to quickly reach your congresspeople. Use Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or text RESIST to 50409 and follow the prompts. Here’s how mine looked: 

In the text box, I wrote what I wanted to say to my representatives and sent it off. You can do this for any issue, not just school safety or gun control. 

Involve your kids

They’re already watching what we do and listening to what we say, so we better make it count.

  • Talk to your children about current events in an age-appropriate way. Here’s stellar advice on how to do it, so they walk away from the conversation feeling safe and comforted.
  • This list of books for babies and toddlers about empathy is a great way to instill messages of compassion and perspective right from the start, and I love the series Ordinary People Change the World for school-aged children. It introduces tough concepts and inspires children to be leaders in their own lives.
  • Help your kids write letters of their own to public officials. My children’s preschool successfully got the timer of a nearby stoplight changed so that it was safer for kids to cross the street. The teachers helped them draft a letter and they all signed it with their little finger prints. In another example, a friend of mine helped her five-year-old son create a petition on Change.org. Seeing the number of signatures grow on the page was a tangible way to understand that he has a voice that can be used to raise awareness and take action.
  • Here’s a list of 10 ways to volunteer with your kids in the Bay Area, and, of course, the upcoming March for Our Lives rally will be full of children standing up to make their voices heard. 

Run for Local Office

After the 2016 Presidential election, a surge of women and millennials started running for political office and Elle magazine had this advice on how to get started. Whether it’s school safety and gun control that prompts you to get involved or another issue about which you’re passionate, this is the ultimate way to effect the change you want to see. 

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. – Maya Angelou




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