Recently, I left one of the Black Facebook groups I was a part of for some years. It was a pretty easy choice to make after I POLITELY offered the link to my blog post with advice for solo travel, to a member in the community who asked about that - but had gotten no lead to resources that could help them plan a solo trip.
Context of my response: the original post made by a male admin in the group was about how people “rush to book their trips, and have terrible/bad/unfortunate experiences” because they haven’t “waited” to get all the information from other members in the group. The admin then went on to give advice on how to be patient in vetting member feedback to avoid the pitfalls of booking too quickly after crowdsourcing advice, and how to essentially research information on Google.
Now in the world of social media, and Facebook groups, I knew my comment was made politely because I included the caveat of “if this isn’t allowed, then delete.” I also in my statement, made a comment referring to the fact that while people keep on thinking they can DIY their way to a cheap trip, on their own, they can also consult a professional and save the time, energy, and stress of trying to compile ALL the information overload that comes from asking (and as the admin suggested) waiting.
As I shared there and often state time and again, DIY is NOT for everyone, and inevitably things go wrong because there IS usually some logistic detail that was overlooked. People’s personal experiences, are NOT always yours, and so there is much to be said about spending hours trying to plan something each time you want to do it, versus just paying a professional for the help. Of course before I got tagged in a long-winded reply (which I will get to in a second) - my polite, and BALANCED response to this advice was deleted. Now typically, I wouldn’t mind, but given my principled self, this situation really pissed me off, and also sheds light on the very prevalent workings of the so-called “Black Traveler Movement” people presume to be a part of.
WHY THE DELETION WAS A TRIGGER
So I have this thing about manners, knowledge, and tone. While tone often gets misconstrued online, in this case, the man’s deletion of my comment and the insinuations that were put out there for other members to see regarding my business were violation at worst, and unsavory at best. Oh, the audacity of the comment! So, my comment was deleted because this guy saw me offering my FREE SOLO TIPS BLOG POST as a resource to a fellow member who asked a valid question about solo travel in response to this vague advice. Fellow member thanked me for the advice too, only I’m not sure if she got to read it because it came down so fast! I mentioned that consulting a professional like myself (page wasn’t referenced and I was commenting as ME, not my page) is ALWAYS an option for those who want to perhaps SAVE TIME and LEARN for the future.
I preemptively saw the delete coming and was simply offering a balanced perspective as I do here my OWN site, and on my IG page,.
However, what got me upset, was the PUBLIC reference to me (and my services) being akin to a multi-level-marketing scheme (that really had me pissed); the sesquipedalian and very paternalistic lecturing of this guy who wanted to toss around big words, who decided to delete and THEN come at my fair response and my business. Referencing tot my recommendation references by stating “Caveat Emptor” (meaning buyer beware) and how my post violates rules, and breaks trust when I can be a “proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing,” when I offered a resource was way too much.
I’ll spare you all the bandwagon admin superfan who ALWAYS inevitably chimes in (in the vast MINORITY, because ppl had liked my post lol) to confirm this guy’s point. Even though I already acknowledged her point (that some people choose to DIY but clearly not everyone knows HOW)—because the superfans and tag-teamers ALWAYS miss the very clear balanced point being made to show solidarity.
Now, before I really read this page and provide the resume for the inexperienced elders in the room + and why I do have my OWN platform that actually educates and empowers in real life—a few points on Black travel pages in general but this page in particular (each bullet point on its own can be rapped to one of my all time favorite hood classics Juvenille’s “Ha.”
People be feelin’ themselves when they got admin privileges, ha? There is no way I would EVER stand for a comparison to World Ventures, or any other MLM that a lot of ppl fell for looking for what? CHEAP ASS TRAVEL. Let’s keep it 100, if folks hadn’t fallen for the shallow hype of seeing people flexing in places they never even heard, knew, or wanted to visit, how could so MANY be invited into participating? You know what my response was EVERY time I was approached: I’m a travel agent, I’m good. Or I have my resources to get out there, thanks though. To be compared even mildly by association to something like that after providing a RESOURCE was and is disrespectful. Not because the MLMs are bad, but being referred to as a wolf in sheep’s clothing when showing my cards isn’t how you treat a group member. Also, one CLICK would have shown it wasn’t even like that. I didn’t come with an invite to anybody’s meeting sir, nor did I try to entice ANYONE to book me specifically. I came with a FREE resource to a member who’s question YOU could NOT and did NOT answer.
They got all the references for you, ha? If members actually knew what they were doing, there wouldn’t have been a need for a post telling them what to do. FYI, sending ppl to Google and telling them there are “tons of resources” without actually answering questions proves that you ARE NOT a resource. You didn’t even include search terms in your post, or sites to find cheap airfare when a member in your very group stated “I live in NYC and have never found cheap fares from JFK.” To which myself and a few other fellow members who also LIVE in NYC found laughable but still respectfully commented that something is off if that IS the case since we don’t pay a lot for flights to ANY continent (I wasn’t giving free game that day though).
You such a pro, but can’t answer the questions, ha? Because I am a researcher, and wanted to see what this admin was REALLY on, I did a quick perusal through the page, and found proof that this is his space to flex, without being helpful. One member asked what an open jaw ticket was. Of course, back to previous bullet - instead of simply answering the question this guy goes in condescending circles talking about “It’s a relatively simple concept that can be better explained by doing a search on Google.” Laughable, so before I left this group, I answered the member’s question SIMPLY (I’ll share more on that in one of my free Tuesday travel tips!) because it was easier to do that, then send them somewhere else, while making them feel silly for asking. NOT the point.
You got favorites and you inconsistent, ha? Before leaving this page, I ALSO noticed the founder of said page promoting another blogger on the page, despite the rules stating that promotion wasn’t permissible. You know I asked about that and of course there was no real justification for it. I also saw that there was a blogger community, which made me wonder, why didn’t admin guy just REDIRECT me there instead of trying to violate the way he did? Makes you wonder.
They see you as a threat and it’s a popularity contest, ha? The thing is, I’m not even worried about these pages and their rules. In fact I am a member of many other travel groups (both Black AND White). It was important to share my experience on my platform because it was and is truly disheartening to CONSTANTLY see double standards of “rules” for people who have come up, and now don’t want to provide a platform for others in their community. You know the only pages where I CAN’T promote my blog, or where my free game posts get deleted are the BLACK ONES? I’m very serious about building my brand, and being on the pulse of the travel wave - which is why I am a part of so many groups. So I’m not here spinning some sob story, I’m just telling you as the reader what it really is and what I see as a pattern. I can’t even help my own because I’m not “down with the founder's circle” or I haven’t done some favor, given some free something to enough people, stalked the page enough - even though I educate regularly with my content. Suit yourself...by the time some realize your value the price inevitably goes up. Some of these pages also STEAL people’s content, don’t give them credit, and carry on as though their inconsistency and lack of real community sets them apart.
I’ve seen ENTIRE travel communities born out of members in one group, promoting and plugging themselves without getting their comments and posts deleted. I’ve seen admins swoop down without so much as a “Tell me more about your work and let’s see if we can share it on x platform,” or “hey, this is better on our other page for bloggers here.” Hell, you can always click a link and see what's up. So I wasn’t going to let ANYONE come AT or for me by sullying my name (which I put a ton of respect on) especially when I was polite, only for my feedback to be labeled as predatory—without letting others view the information for themselves to decide.
I was not going to allow this from someone, in a group FULL of people who ask more questions than Dory on her search for Nemo, with fewer answers to boot. Not from a group who has recent complaints on the BBB for their services, I don’t allow anyone to press me, especially in a public forum when it is unwarranted. It be your own people. While so many are busy flexing, without real receipts—I can only hope that we learn the true purpose of community as Black people, and go deeper than simply wanting to be seen.