Last night I was scrolling through the posts of the "Boycott BP" I joined on Facebook some time ago. There's almost 800,000 voices on this page that voice their frustrations, anxieties, worries, fears, and hopes of what is happening on the Gulf Coast in relation to the oil spill.
As I was refreshing the page, it suddenly disappeared. "POOF", it was gone from cyberspace. I typed it in the search box and all I found were spin-off's of the group. It took a few minutes for denial to leave my senses before I realized that Facebook had deleted the entire page from it's existence.
All those voices were suddenly..... gone!
As I started clicking the other Boycott BP sites, I found those who were in the original groups asking the same questions on their posts:
"What happened to Lee Perkins 'Boycott BP' page?"
I was in the middle of serving dinner as well, so I went to the table to tell my husband who is also a fan of the page. He started searching on his iPhone and discovered, it too had been erased from his Facebook page.
For a few minutes I sat and played with my plate of Dirty Rice and Sausage before I ran, not walked, but ran to my computer. I went to iReport and typed out a quick article on what had just happened on Facebook.
That article turned into a semi-media frenzy today as many internet news outlets picked up my story and ran with it. Some were even quoting verbatim what I had said in the original article. I had even managed to make to Huffington Reports! Some were taking the article and transforming into their own "original" story:
Somehow I had even managed a job offer from a couple internet news sites who wanted me to start writing for them.
This evening as I began to really think about the magnitude of what transpired between last night and today, I realized that there was much more to the picture than originally thought.
"Boycott BP" is not just a bunch of disgruntled folks whining about the oil spill. It's is a collective group trying to help one another through the process of the greatest environmental disaster in our history, whether or not they live along the Gulf Coast or not.
There are truly people there who care about our plight down here, long after everyone else gets tired of hearing about it. People offer prayers, advice, warnings, help if you need/want to move, or are just plain there to hear you vent about losing..... your home.
I am angry because I look at my children's eyes and have to tell them that there is no going to the beach because of the oil, the "tar balls", the toxins in the air, etc. People like me are on that page because we are angry that a simple enjoyment in life has now become an issue of whether it will make us sick or not, if we partake in it.
I live in Gulf Breeze, Florida, and recently the Santa Rosa Island Authority released a statement that the "water is fine", go ahead and swim in it. The majority of the residents here and in Pensacola were shocked as we wondered by Mr. Buck Lee, the Executive Director didn't see what we did: oil in the water, oil on the beaches, our children and ourselves suffering from headaches and nausea after leaving a "day at the beach".
I followed in the footsteps of Mr. Perkins and "protested" his decision about the matter. My first email was received with a bit of sarcasm in his words as he said:
"It is your decision to swim or not to swim.
I went swimming Saturday west of the pier.
It was my decision and mine alone."
After letting him know about the Pensacola News article stating that 400 people were treated at the hospital after the oil spill hit here, for symptoms related to toxins, AND sending him an informative video filmed by local Diana Serden Stephens, (which blatantly shows that it is NOT fine), Mr. Lee's tone in his emails became more humble.
I am hoping that I might have made a small difference in Mr. Lee's decisions in the future, just the way Mr. Perkins has in bringing all of us together on his "Boycott BP" page.
Lee Perkins, a.k.a., BayouLee, didn't just create a protest group, he created a family of strangers who became linked by a common bond - to get the Gulf cleaned up and make sure BP is held responsible for it's actions. The boycotting BP stations has become an act of last resort in order to get our voices heard down here that:
- Cleaning up beaches does NOT equal covering them up with sand,
- ALL marine life HAS to be protected and not gathered in the middle of the night and disposed of so no one see's it,
- Authorities need to come CLEAN with the FACTS of what is really in our water and in our air,
- That that oil leak needs to get stopped NOW!
- That we would "Like Our Lives Back!"
It has worked because people have noticed Mr. Perkins efforts on Facebook, and nearly 29,000 people have viewed my article on iReport in the past 24 hours. It has become the most viewed article in the past 24 hours as well.
And the best part: "Boycott BP" has gained 10,000+ fans as well since being turned "back on" earlier today.
Nearly a 800,000 voices can NOT be silenced in the wake of the WORST environmental disaster in our countries history!
It also brings to light the latest news of a "Internet Kill Switch". Last night proved to me that this is one of the greatest dangers to our Freedom of Speech. If a "Kill Switch" were to be allowed, it wouldn't just affect nearly 800,000 voices, it would silence an entire nation from it's ability to communicate even it's basic necessities to one another: families separated, business stopped.
The whole United States would be silenced at the flip of an index finger.
For what purpose? Because "China is doing it", as Senator Lieberman was quoted as saying in a recent interview?
It will go far beyond what Facebook did last night whether or not it was an "automated system" or not.
If it were YOUR voice, would you want it suddenly...... turned off?