THE BLOG

The Social Networking Stigma: Blocking

14/01/2015 15:40 GMT | Updated 16/03/2015 09:59 GMT

I don't take social networking too seriously. For me, it's there to serve a purpose. I share work links, my writing and sometimes the odd drawing plus I get all my news from my Twitter feed. Recently on my timeline, there have been a few cases of folk moaning about being blocked or blockers feeling the backlash from the 'blockees'.

I've not blocked many people on Twitter or Facebook because I completely separate online life from real life so what happens online doesn't effect how I feel in daily life at all. Recently, however, I blocked a few tweeters after they sent me some very nasty feedback about a blog post I had written - this nasty feedback wasn't referring to the blog itself, they were merely trolls. It has to get pretty bad before I block someone online and in this case I felt it was justified because strangers hurling abuse online is not what we need in these times - the world is crazy enough. Personally, this is how I manage my online profiles - you get blocked if it gets really bad, otherwise I avoid drama, do not respond and move on.

Recently, I was reading various interactions between several people who'd been blocked by a Twitter profile for, seemingly, no good reason. Of course, they were all offended and dumbfounded and various tweets back and forth ensued. Conversely, another tweeter on my timeline was surprised when facing accusations of being bigoted after blocking someone they simply 'found boring' online - they just didn't want them appearing on their feed and there was nothing else to it.

A few years back, I found myself in the position of the 'blockee'. The blocker is a friend and since the blocking 'incident' I've been round for BBQs, dinners, had drinks and not a word has been spoken of 'blockgate'. Sure, I felt offended at first - what had I done? But I eventually concluded that perhaps my online 'persona' may have simply annoyed them and if we got along fine offline then that was more important - I wouldn't be invited round or hang out otherwise.

Whatever the reason for the blocking, it is the right of the blocker to block whomever they wish, after all, it's their personal feed. Social networking is not real life and it must be remembered that we should separate the two.

Back in 'the good old days', if you did something wrong, offended someone or were just plain annoying maybe you wouldn't hear from them for a while, sometimes you'd lose touch completely and life would go on. Friends ebb and flow at different stages in life and only a few last the distance. It's unnatural to have a collection of everyone you've ever known online because perhaps there's a natural order to things, we change, we grow and life adjusts accordingly - not everyone is up for being a passenger on your journey.

And so, is it right to block someone at all or moan if you've been blocked yourself? Blocking someone is your prerogative - whether it's for an extreme reason or not. It's your feed after all! It can feel a little weird being blocked for no good reason, as I found, but it's not going to change the world. There are more important things in life to be incensed about and as my blocker proved, you can still socialize 'irl' without blockgate ever being mentioned.

Social networking is both a blessing and a curse. It's a brilliant way to communicate and share with the world but it can definitely cause unnecessary stress and drama.

We're so much more than just our avatars - real life is what happens when you log out.