Why I Blocked You

You want to know why I blocked you.

You’ve called me or texted me or emailed me, whatever way I’ve still allowed you in.

You’re my friend, you say.  Why on earth would I do that?  How dare I?

It must be because I don’t like it when people disagree with me.  It must be that I’m so insecure that I can’t handle criticism.  It must be that I just want everyone around me to praise me and agree with me.  What other explanation could there be?

When I point out all the other people who disagree with me online, you dismiss me.  You wonder if perhaps I have something in for you, or if I acted in a moment of weakness.

Either way, there is no convincing you.

Because you are hurt.  You are pained that in this new age where access to our friends at the click of a button is a given, I would do the unthinkable: completely cut you off from access to my online identity.

 

In this world where the offline and the online worlds are so blurred, so are our identities on both.  To block someone on Facebook is seen as no different than refusing to speak to a person ever again.  Somehow, the reality that we used to be able to communicate completely without the aid of Facebook, Twitter, and social media, only ten years ago seems to make no difference.

And so no wonder you are hurt.  No wonder you see this is as a violation of trust, of friendship, of, at the very least, etiquette.

And indeed, in a world where we are so used to seeing our friends more on Facebook than in real life, it can be off-putting and confusing to suddenly have absolutely no access to this side of their lives.  To never again be able to comment, message, or even see them on our newsfeeds.  It seems too drastic, too strong.

 

My friends, both strong and weak, that I have had to block, let me explain.  And to the  world as well, I believe you should hear, and I believe that you need this information for your sanity.

The more time that passes, the more that our online identities grow.  Whether in a minuscule amount, or at a drastic rate.  But it is virtually unheard of to gain less friends online over time, less followers, less people interested in what you have to say.

That’s because the internet, and specifically sites like Google and Facebook, is established around the principle of eternity.  Specifically, they want everything about you to never be deleted, to always grow, because this gives them more data, which gives them more to use with advertisers, which gives them more revenue.

But this goes against the natural order of social interaction the human body has been accustomed to since we walked the earth.

We forget for a reason.  It allows us to filter out what is meaningful and what isn’t, what is painful and what is meaningful, what we want and what we need to let go of.

We also lose friends naturally, and with little very little animosity.  This happens because we move, change, grow, evolve.  Our context changes, our insides turn over.  And so to have the same friends our whole lives is also quite rare, and often occurs only with a very select group.

And so, you see, the rules of social media and the internet are not in sync with humanity: they are in sync with revenue.  They are not built to mimic what is natural, what is normal, but to suck out every bit of digitized information they can.

Which means that if we want to be healthy, to live an organic and natural life that also takes advantage of the incredible power of the internet to connect us and push our boundaries beyond what we ever experienced, then we must take matters into our own hands.

 

My friend… the truth is that we are not friends anymore.  Perhaps we never were.  Please do not feel hurt, but try to reframe what the word means to you.  It’s a word that has been redefined by Facebook (just like the world “like”), and turned into a word that now means “connection.”  Does anyone in the world actually have 3,000 friends?  Or even 500?  Of course not.  No person could handle such a life.

But we do have thousands of connections, thousands of personal threads that spread the globe, that span a universe beyond what we can imagine.

But the truth is that as our connections grow, and the ease with which our connections can communicate with us has grown, the more potential they have to hurt us.

You have hurt me.  That is, in essence, and in truth, why I blocked you.  That is why I can’t see you on my newsfeed anymore, in my comments, in my inbox.

(And more to the point, I didn’t block you, but your online identity.  Please remember that, because it matters more than you think.)

Which is not to say you meant to, or that you are bad, or that I think you lower than me.  It means, simply, that you have hurt me, and that I am afraid that you may continue to.

And while the pain of one comment may seem minuscule, I ask you to consider what a thousand pinpricks a day, administered by people you know, may do to you.

This would be the life I would live if I allowed you and others to continue hurting me, if I didn’t use that block button.  There would be those thousand pinpricks, just hitting me.  And the more I make myself vulnerable, the more I tell the truths within me that move me, that make me come alive, that are what make me who I am, the more I need to protect myself.

 

The internet has allowed us all to open up more.  Which means that just as it is easier for us to hurt others, it is easier for us to open up.

In other words,  the age of the internet, social media, online writing, has brought with it this tremendous opportunity.  And like all opportunities to do great things, it comes with the potential for unbelievable pain.

Unfortunately, it is time for you, for me, for all of us to start accepting this and to start taking charge of our online lives.  Facebook may be interested in revenue, but we should be interested, above all, in our health.

We live in a world that is as emotionally unhealthy as it has perhaps ever been.  It seems that every technological step forward is also an emotional step back.

That is why I can no longer feel apologetic, pathetic, or judgmental of myself for blocking you and others.  We all must start taking control of our emotional lives, and social media has, for better or worse, become a bigger part of them.

 

In other words, here is what I ask you: you should also be blocking people.  This is not an optional reality, unless you want to build up a hard shell insider you heart instead of around your online identity.

But if you want to remain human, remain sane, remain emotionally healthy… you need to block out the pain.  Literally.

  • PicoDellaMirandola

    If you unfollow somebody, do they know? Does FB send them a notification?

    • No. But blocking is different than unfollowing. Neither receives a notification, but a person who is blocked will usually know pretty quickly because they are caught up in a heated conversation or something when it happens.

      • PicoDellaMirandola

        sometimes I look at FB and there is some thing by somebody I went to highschool with about how they adopted some kittens or ate a brunch they really liked and I unfollow them, because I feel it was just like a tiny time waster for me — I don’t care. But I feel a bit guilty doing so! What if I miss out on something more significant in the future?

        • You are describing the online version of FOMO (fear of missing out)! IMO if it’s something REALLY important, and it’s a person you care about enough, you will find out such things. I definitely think we should think of the newsfeed as a way to really just keep the stuff from the people we most want to follow and should unfollow WAY more people than we block.

          • PicoDellaMirandola

            Good advice — I will.

      • lili

        Blocking is rude. I undestand her connection. She’s rude and seems to get hurted very easily. Why adding people if they are only connections, it’s nonsens. Adding, tchatting, and then blocking only for a comments, doesn’t seems to come from a friendly person.
        If I have “connection” with someone, I don’t consider them as my friends, but if we had chatted together before, I wouldn’t block someone unless the person is a total jerk. Unfriending is enough.

  • Luftmentsch

    I’m generally quite glad to have left Facebook. The ‘friends’ thing used to upset me. I only had about thirty friends, and I’m not sure how many were actually my friends (admittedly about a third of them were blood relations!). I suppose leaving FB was a drastic unfriending.

    There’s a folk story, too long to write here, about a sociable guy who says he has hundreds of friends and his father says “I’m much older than you, and I only have one and a half friends.” Of course, the son’s friends are not dependable, whereas the father’s one and a half friends are.

  • Arnie Samlan

    Brilliant and sensitive piece. Puts a lot of the drama that goes on in social media into perspective. A year ago, I wrote pieces on “reclaiming my social media” to deal with some of the hurtful things that go on. Your article reinforces my thinking and expands it beautifully

    • lili

      If she blocks and doesn’t simply unfriend, she seems to put a lot of drama in it too.