Let’s talk about an ugly truth to social media: blocking. It’s real, it’s necessary but it can also be petty as fuck. Now, before I go off on a typical tangent, allow me to put my disclaimer out there: I block. I block regularly and I block hard. But I don’t do it for petty, useless reasons. I do it almost always for protection or peace of mind.
A closer look.
Blocking is when you cut someone off from viewing your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr profiles. I’m not listing anywhere else because frankly, I think four examples are plenty. But all blocking is not created equal; on Facebook a block means you literally don’t exist to that person anymore. Your name isn’t clickable or searchable, even if they had you bookmarked. You’re just gone to them. I like that. On Twitter it’s more of a “you can’t see my tweets, friends, likes or RTs anymore,” but profiles are still discoverable when searching. So yes, you *still *have to see that person’s face if you’re being a sneaky bitch and seeking them out. On Instagram, a block is similar to Facebook in that you just…aren’t there to them. Your username doesn’t pop up and that’s that. Although, there might also be a “soft block” where you exist to your stalkers but your feed doesn’t show. Or rather it reads “so and so hasn’t posted yet,” but the post count still reflects their actual instagrams. It’s wonky and if anyone understands this, I’d love to hear about it! I like being totally gone, not kind of gone, so any help is appreciated! Lastly is tumblr. I’ve never been blocked by another Tumblr user, so I had to do a bit of research on the topic. It *sounds *like blocking = “ignoring” on the Tumbling Tumblr: you ignore a person and they’re now not able to view your dashboard, posts or send you direct messages. But you are still “there” on the platform. It’s the oddball of the group but then again, it *is *Tumblr.
& there we have the brief histories of blocking!
Why block? Why not just ignore and move on with your life? Let the trolls and stalkers troll and stalk while you do you. Unfortunately, it’s not so cut and dry. You have rude, abrasive people who lurk and wait for any opportunity to strike – “keyboard warriors” is the general colloquialism, I believe. These people are mostly unknown to you but have made it their prerogative to fuck up your sunshiney days just because they can. ‘You like that movie? With *that *actor? Well, you must be a whiny bitch! You go to the gym *and *run outdoors but don’t know how to cook a proper meal? But…you’re a woman, I thought that’s what women do?’ Or my current favorite, the Trump supporting maddude who just *has *to explain (mansplain) why you’re views are dead wrong about the [worst, pathologically lying, most inept, embarrassing] President of the United States. Yeah, those types of fuck-pow-face people exist in droves these days, so click the B button and move on.
The next group is online friends gone haywire. This usually ends up being a sticky situation and yet not quite as tacky as the final reason, which I will get to soon! 😉 The rogue friend block is often accompanied by a slow descent into madness…for them. The friendship starts off amazingly well and you have all these things in common, or they admire your photography skills and think your posts are witty and comical. But then something happens – perhaps you had an opinion gasp and they didn’t agree with you. Or maybe you’ve moved on from a particular fandom and they can’t understand how needing a brief reprieve is about YOU and not them. Either way, they suddenly have bones that need picking and an attack is imminent. Then it happens and you’re blindsided and taken aback and wondering the entire time if that person was always a complete lunatic or if something in or about you set them off. You quickly realize it’s not your problem (at least you should), cut them out and resume happy with your sane, sometimes agree to disagree, group of digital pals.
The last group is the known offenders, or more specifically, people who know you in real life. This list includes family, friends, co-workers, etc. Not all blocks in this category are harsh, either. Allow me: if your boss follows you, you can actively choose to block her/him because 1: what you do on your private time has 0 to do with them and therefore is none of their business. They *might *get offended but if you use your big girl or boy words and explain why your Twitter home is for geeking out and nerdom and not engineering equations and work party meet-ups, they should get it. Unless they suspect you’re using their dime to fund your twitter obsessiveness, in which case, block and cut back on your social media times. Don’t be a dick – if you’re at work, work. The next “I still love you in real life” block is the family member block. This is simple: If you’re old enough (>18), mom and dad can’t follow you to spy and expect to get away with it (must remember this for when B is 18). Or at least, they shouldn’t. If you have severe depression or a history that’s sordid and shady, they’re most likely looking out for you in a parental-duty kind of way. You could block but that’ll make it worse for everyone involved, bruise their trust in you and make social media a whole lot less fun. Just be you and if they have questions, let them come to you.
The final-final people are real life friends and family that have lost their damn minds when it comes to you. Something fell apart in their heads or their hearts and you’re the sole target. It sucks, but it happens way more than people admit to. These people are the ones that expect too much, offer too little and take offense to you taking a breath of fresh air. They end up hating the things you love out of spite, ignoring you because they’re too cowardly to say anything positive *or *negative, and lurk in the deep dark shadows of night. Waiting for that one tweet to condemn you, to put you down and point all the fingers at. They *love *watching you suffer because they’ve been there and see what it does to you when people judge and accuse out of context. These are the absolute worst kinds. And the saddest. Because the only thing you can do is block. You can’t trust them not to misconstrue a “wow, reallllll cool, man, real cool,” tweet to their own sick benefits because you know they turn everything you write into a Shakespearean tragedy. And you’re the star. Block ’em and move on. Block them and move on. Block. And. Move. On.
And in case you’re wondering, yep, I’ve been blocked plenty. Sometimes I speak my mind to the mansplainers or shout down the rabid fan, and yes, even members of family have blocked me. But there’s that spite I mentioned above. And so I return the favor ten-fold, spend some time examining the theories behind why we block who we block and then I move on. Because it’s not the end of the world or even the end of love for them (friends/family), it’s just the end of the line for that particular method of communication. And in the end, all social media ever wanted to be was communicating with others.
Sometimes things happen, go awry, and that’s alright. Just recognize that not all blocking is the same. And, folks, don’t be dicks. The world has enough of those.