Months had past after my adventure in EPS- Every Passport Stamp.
It was summer time. I had forgotten all about EPS and was into my life arranging our summer house in Kaş, Turkey. One night, to my astonishment, I received an e-mail from Ric. He was asking me if I'd be on his Counting Countries podcast.
You see, I had written to him asking to be on the podcast before. I had wanted to promote my ideas. I was a different voice, a Turkish woman with Muslim origins and had something to say about travel. He had not responded to any of my requests. But, I am used to being ignored. So I had not thought much about it.
Now that he was asking me, I was perplexed. It was something I had not expected.
I said ok. Here is a chance.
Some time later, I got a message from Stefan too.
He was saying they were thinking of taking me back into the group, if I was interested. He said they welcomed different points of view but then ended with:
"If you can agree to our group rules and participate in the spirit of them, we will reinstate you. If we feel you are breaking the group rules or that member complaints for rule breaking rise again, we will be quick to act. We have had several other members that for similar reasons we have issued two week mutes on posting to cool off and see if they can come back to the group."
Now... This, being an invitation to come back to a group that had hurt me, should have been flattering. However, I was not. In fact, I found Stefan's "tone" to be too authoritarian to be even called despotic; I certainly did not appreciate the threatening manner "If we feel you are breaking the group rules or that member complaints for rule breaking rise again, we will be quick to act." He was literally showing me a stick! Just in case!
"Thanks for your offer Stefan but I'm good like this. I believe you've got me wrong and did not get to read my last posts. I asked to be removed from the group. You may say 'Why didn't you simply leave yourself?' It's because I have left too many groups and for once, I wanted not to do it myself."
Then I went on to tell him about my experience in the group as I was sure he didn't follow and did not know about it as Petro had removed my last comments.
"You may have your rules but I too have my own rules and the group does not abide by them," I told Stefan.
"What about obliging people who make ridiculously wrong claims like RyanAir 'choosing to' compensate passengers to apologize for example? Act mature, accept your wrongs, or be kicked out of the group.
Are you aware Maurizio dared say I was seeking your pity?
Seek your pity??? For what? For what for God's sake??! I have told from the beginning that I have been REFUNDED!
Again... PEOPLE MAKING BASELESS ACCUSATORY CLAIMS SHOULD BE EITHER OBLIGED TO APOLOGIZE PUBLICLY OR BE immediately REMOVED FROM THE GROUP."
Then I made a case about their running the group:
"May I also say I do not appreciate your threatening 'tone of voice' or manner stating you'll be quick to take action if I do not abide by your rules. (I do not take kindly to authority, especially when it is issued as threats. I had told you before, I'm not a 6 year-old that you can scold.) If you were quick to take action to defend me from baseless attacks before I had to answer them myself, this might not have happened. I'm aware you are not very active on FB, neither is Ric. Petro interferes, she does the policing in the group. But her way is very irritating as well. Like her making a post about wanting to 'nip it in the bud'. I don't like insinuations. Be direct if you want to say something. Her arguments are all illogical as well."
There was palpable double-standards in the group moderation. I said:
"There really should be a rule for acting maturely and apologizing when you make a wrong assertion etc as in Maurizio guy. I wonder why you didn't scold him publicly like you did with me, he was TALKING ABOUT PREGNANT GIRLS FOR GOD'S SAKE. I am curious if you have at least issued a personal warning to Maurizio. I hope you did. If not, I believe you need to give some serious thought to your double-standards."
I also made a general comment about world travellers:
"Just like Ric's podcast the group talk is all about our exploits. Yeah, sure, it's nice to listen to adventure stories, share them, but those do not really interest me. I'd like to talk about the politics behind travel. I'd like to discuss visas, security issues... There is an enormous amount of accumulation there. But I do have a huge amount of experience that I can draw upon anyway. I need like-minded people, I need people to support me; when I say me, it's of course not about me but the idea of a stateless political world. Obviously, none of these issues can be brought up in the group. Which is a shame if you ask me. We are world travellers, we should care about the world we wish to see!
In your podcast with Ric, when he asked how you were going to do Syria you said “They have serious problems, ours are so insignificant.” I felt that was such a good point to get the discussion going. Ric did not even make a comment and that was the end of an opportunity.
Anyway... Last point... I suppose we probably do not agree on what a “rant” is. These things are so relative and depend on your definitions like one man's terrorist being the freedom fighter of another. You may call this or my posts as a rant, I think of them as well thought out analysis and expressions of ideas/opinions. If you believe you can adjust your definitions and rules to coincide with mine, I'd be happy to join you. Otherwise, all the best.
PS: I used capitals not as shouting but as using bold character."
Stefan replied saying "Thank you for your thoughtful comments. To address all of your feedback is beyond my capacity though I have read it all, will work with moderators on issues you mentioned, and that will inform group work going forward whether or not you participate. There is a nuance that I believe you have not fully considered which is that any group or community has norms shaped by the members. Within EPS this has meant that I have gone along with, for instance, a normal around not engaging in political debates as the collective membership prefers other outlets specific to that. That is not my natural preference, however I have adopted it in the spirit of comity of the group. A similar one is that the group is not to be the group for heated debates between a handful of members that dominate discussions and shout out others. We recently had to work with several members acting in this way, some of which have chosen other forums as their future outlets."
I replied saying thanks as well and added I was not a group person. I've known that for quite some time. My ideas are not the generally held ones, I am out of the norm. Therefore, do not fit in.
"I see it that people cannot really grasp the fact of someone doing something for unselfish reasons. I could not care less about Cassie, but I do care very much about fairness. That's why I spent all that time writing and defending her.
I understand very well the group dynamics. Believe me when I say I had no intention to even speak up in the group at all. I know very well not to put my political ideas in such a group. Even if it was not moderated, I'd never have posted anything about my project. I don't need needless controversy as much as you don't. It drains my energies and eats my time. However, I thought this Djibouti visa thing was something that concerned all travellers and I could never have imagined people coming back with such attacks. Now I know a bit better. People in groups behave awfully. It easily turns into a mob mentality.
Even if you do not address all my points, could you please let me know if Maurizio was issued any warning at all?
Anyway... I haven't found my tribe yet. I hope I will one day. Perhaps I'll form my own. But I realized I am perfectly fine in my solitary life with my 3+1 small family. It's peaceful like this.
I had got myself the nickname Nomadic Turtle almost two decades ago. I stick out my head once in a while to see what is around, then see how cruel and immature people are and tuck my head back in.
I have heard that there was some discontent in the group and a new formation. I suppose it's natural as well. It's very difficult to get along in a group of people. I hope things will change one day and we will learn how to live peacefully side by side, but I'm not holding my breath on that. A fish rots from the head down; have a look at the “leaders” of the world, or have a look at most micro families, it doesn't seem much promising."
I ended with a quote I believed fit our conversation topic perfectly!
I did not hear back from Stefan. Not even a yes or no if Maurizio had been issued a warning. Yeah, I take it personally. If this much discrimination is so obvious. Yet, I know it is not personal. People are just too busy with their own lives and do not care about some random stranger, someone they have not met and are not interested in. They do not bother to read and understand the details of some random person's grievances.
But, that is exactly the point! That is the big thing that is missing in groups. A sense of community that makes everyone included and cared about.
As I said, you need not even care for people especially. (I did not/do not care about Cassie either.) But you should at least care about values. Because without them, you are just a bunch of robots, avatars, and not humans with an intellect to distinguish between right and wrong. And that makes all the difference.
Following Posts in the series:
A Call to Ric Gazarian's Patrons
Threats and Controversy
A Podcast Gone Wrong
Tantrums and Rants