It's six in the morning and I am scrolling through the accumulated social media notifications while I sip my first cup of coffee. It was a morning ritual for me. I want to know how my blog is getting noticed, and the night usually brings a plethora of attention.
I opened Facebook and clicked the notifications tab. Sitting there among the notifications about birthdays and likes on a post I had made the day before, was a statement about my blog's page being unpublished. It had come in just before 4 AM and looked about as inviting as a moldy slice of bread.
Like many cannabis marketers, I knew my content could be pulled down for promoting the "Devil's Lettuce". However, I wanted to see if it was a tag, photo, or something else that had triggered the takedown. So I looked a bit deeper.
I had not drunk enough coffee yet to deal with their reasoning.
Supposedly, my blog page had been unpublished due to "hate speech and bullying". What now? I run a cannabis education blog, how on earth could anything I had published be construed as hate speech or bullying? I had strived to take a fairly centered approach, especially when talking about anything election-related.
I went to work pondering how someone could have misinterpreted my writing. Was it because I compared some marijuana policymakers to koalas? Or because I said internet trolls could stand to be smacked in the face with a can of Twisted Tea? Or was it a blanket excuse to pull down anything pro-cannabis? I debated my theories out loud to the plants as I went through the morning watering routine, but the ladies gave no advice one way or the other.
Then it hit me. I was the Hemp Bitch. It was my blog's name. Somehow, calling myself a bitch offended some user's delicate sensibilities and sent them rushing to report me. This was just getting ridiculous.
I had learned a long time ago that if you take an insult and turn it to your advantage, people can no longer use it to hurt or belittle you. For me that word was bitch. Every time someone would describe me as such, whether it be online gaming or the comment section of a social media platform, I would casually say that I am indeed a bitch, what of it? The insult could no longer hurt me. I had taken it back for myself.
So when I decided to create a blog, I became the Hemp Bitch. The name set the tone for my brand and allowed me to be lenient with manners. It made discussing how people had the mental capacity of koalas and smacking trolls in the face with alcoholic tea line up with my brand tone. Yes, I knew marketing was going to be a pain in the ass. But I was already writing about cannabis, so why not add adult language into the mix?
I requested a review to reinstate my blog's page on Facebook and within a few hours was notified my page was republished. Now all that was left to do was wonder who had gotten so offended on my behalf. Obviously, it was no one I personally knew. The poor knight in tin foil armor would remain anonymous forever.
I could talk about how censorship violates our First Amendment rights all day long, but Facebook may take that down as well. Facebook's ban sent a message that I should be ashamed of being called a word (sticks and stones) rather than reclaiming it for myself. And if someone reclaiming a word and using it as a way to empower themselves offends you, please consider just avoiding the internet altogether.