Culture

When Should You Block People on Social Media?

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Occasionally, I take a moment to review my Facebook block list, lingering on each name as Dexter regards his blood slides. These are my trophies, digital scalps claimed over years spent online.

I don’t revel in blocking people. I don’t go looking for people to block. In fact, I’d like to think my capacity for tolerance remains vast. Indeed, that fosters an odd appreciation for each name on my list. These guys earned it. They swung for the fences. They took things to the next level, leading me to the rare conclusion that continued association has no value whatsoever. It takes a certain effort to convince another human being that they never want to hear from you again. It’s an odd sort of accomplishment. Part of me can appreciate it.

The nature of digital interaction has an effect similar to alcohol, bestowing false confidence and poor manners. That said, my rules are simple. Treat me with the same respect online that anyone would expect in person. If you went up to someone on the street and started shouting profanities and questioning their character or heritage, you wouldn’t expect them to stand there and take it. Yet, when someone behaves this way online and gets blocked, they stand surprised.

On the flip side, I have counseled friends who were harassed online and felt that they must endure it to demonstrate character, as if not blocking someone were somehow virtuous. In truth, social censure remains the only non-violent answer to disagreeable conduct. Life is too short to endure relationships without value.

What’s your limit? When do you block someone on social media? Or have you? Have you been blocked? Did you deserve it?