Sometimes you?re only manipulating yourself.
Photo by Sandeep Swarnkar on Unsplash
Since beginning my writing journey over the past year, I have blocked two users. Both were strangers to me, and both were ?red pill men? who frequently commented on my stories in a deeply hurtful fashion.
No matter what I wrote about, these guys were there to tell me that I was worthless and selfish as a single mom. They painted a story about me that I supposedly forced my ex to have a baby,the poorman.
When I wrote about my ex initially wanting me to have an abortion a few hours away, how he refused to take off work to go with me, and how he tried to get some guy he knows (whom I?d never met) to take meinstead, what do you think they said?
You guessed it. They felt sorry for my ex for having no control over me and the pregnancy.
It was schoolyard level bullying from people I?d never even met. They called me names like ?fat cow,? and claimed I only wrote online because I?m such a failure in real life.
In some ways, they weren?twrong. My writing journey began out of desperation. I did feel worthless. I thought I needed a man to prove I was somebody, so I was ashamed of my status as a single mother.
I did feel like a failure.
When I blocked those men, it was definitely for the benefit of my own mental health. They were strangers and bullies, and there was nothing for me to say that they would ever deem worthy.
Even so, I will never understand the knee-jerk reaction to block people we know on social media or various websitesjust because wegetmad. I consider blocking as a last resort for people who will not listen to reason.
Every time I write about somebody trolling on my work, or discuss an unsavory interaction with a fellowwriter, a few people ask why I don?t just block them and move on.
?Why not just block them and be done with it,? they ask me.
But I don?t even understand the question. “Blocking people” is pretty much only something you do online. In real life, cutting off from somebody who disagrees with you isn?t lauded as a positive mental healthmove. It?s more often volatile and reactionary.
We have the right to speak up for ourselves.
If somebody decides to ?come after me? and my writing, I might just write about it.
Honestly, I?m surprised how many people advocate against standing up for yourself. And I have to admit, it feels like a gendered issue.
Like it or not, women are often encouraged to sit down and shut up. We are trained from an early age that ?boys will be boys,? and that nobody likes a bossy girl.
In professional spheres, women often have to hold more credentials than men just to be taken half as seriously. And then we?re held to much higher standards of good behavior than men.
Where men are allowed to exude confidence and fight for their good name, women are expected to remain calm and avoid any burst of emotion that might make them look irrational or crazy.
And anytime we show we care about something negative that somebody else has said about us, by today?s standards, we have already failed. Caring isn?t cool.
I don?t agree with this mentality, because I know I have already been silent for far too manyyears. I have often accepted abuse all because it?s unseemly for a woman to say noormakeascene.
We don?t need to sweep bad behavior under the rug.
?Making a scene? is supposedly so unsavory, that most women are professionals at sweeping bad behavior under the rug. We expect bad behavior from others–especially from men. And too many men expect us to let it all gowithoutmention.
There?s something so pious about pretending that shit didn?t happen, but that?s also letting abusive behavior slide. When I call out bad behavior and say I am not going to take it, I?m often amazed to see how many other women feel more confident to speak up and tell their stories too.
It pays to talk about individuals who behave like predators in any given community. It makes a positive impact when you help more people avoid getting hoodwinkedthemselves.
Some abusers come across as trustworthy and encouraging. But they are wolves in disguise. Blocking them doesn?t fix any of that. They just keep doing their thingandother people keep fallingfortheillusion.
Conflict resolution matters.
Back when the breakup with my daughter?s dad was still painful, we were both terribly immature.
We blocked each other on Facebook, Messenger, Google, SMS–all of it. We unblocked each other too.
Like, ?Oh, I?m so angry, let me get this last word in? there!?
It was stupid, and it never made either of us feel better. It never helped resolve our conflicts.
Whether you do the blocking or somebody else blocks you, there can be no resolution at that point. Sometimes, I see chronic blockers complain about the way people respond to being blocked. Well, yeah. I?m wondering what they expected?
In many cases, blocking someone who disagrees with you starts a fire when there was nothing there to begin with–except for your own angry feelings.
Blocking isn?t just a mental health break. Use the option after lecturing someone and giving them no chance to respond and it?s a manipulative move. It?s something narcissists often do online to control a narrative.
Are you in or are you out? This is what narcissists and abusers want to know. And they will use blocking as a method to curate their very own community of sheep who only hear their voice.
A social media induced sickness.
Blocking trolls might be good for our health, but employing blocks whenever people don?t give you what you want is a disease. I?d say it?s the natural extension of culling.
It?s complicated because social media has created this enormous ?call out culture? where it?s cool to dis on–whomever you decide are–the cool kids. That?s what makes you one of the even cooler kids. Unlike them, you don?t give a fuckwhoyoucome after,right?
Look, sometimes, call outs are necessary. Calling out injustice matters. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ageism–these are just some of the issues that need to be called out.
Angry rants about people who share too many cat videos on social media? Stories berating writers who dare use copious adverbs? Entire articles lamenting that nobody cares about or understands the truth like you? Dude, that?s all just so damn? petty.
You can?t write full on rants about people misunderstanding free speech and censorship when you?re out there blocking anybody who disagrees with you. I mean, clearly you can, and obviously it happens, but it?s creating a toxic culture of grown ass men who can?t handle an honest discussion.
This isn?t the playground and we?re not playing dodgeball. There?s no need to choose teams.
Why are we so angry, anyway?
Blocking people online is a tool. And the way you use it to avoid looking like a toolyourself? Don?t block somebody when you?re angry. And don?t write up some long explanation about why you?re blocking them.
Think really hard about blocking someone with whom you have any kind of friendship or working relationship. Don?t block them and unblock them to leave comments, only to block them again.
Before blocking anybody who isn?t just a faceless troll, figure out what set you off in the first place. Why can?t you resolve the conflictinstead?
Is there even a conflict? Sometimes, when we don?t like what another person is saying, it?s not their fault. It?s us. Sometimes it?s our own hangups or jealousy telling us that this person is a world class jerk. They may have done nothing wrong, yet something they said got under our skin anyway.
You know what?s really good for your mental health? Figuring out your own shitfirst. Understanding why certain people rub you the wrong way? before going on a blocking spree.
Of course, what do I know? I?m just a single mom writing onlineonone website. I?ve got my own issues. I?m far from famous and I haven?t been ?discovered.?
Not that I?m waiting on any of that. I?m happy to work every day on my writing and willing to see where it takes me. I?m happy to be a nobody who inspires somebodyeveryday.
And I?m happy to talk about it all too. Lately, I?ve heard a lot of people quote Michelle Obama: ?When they go low, we go high.?
We don?t have to be kids in the schoolyard calling each other names and telling our friends to pick a side so we know who to shun.
I don?t need to shun anyone and I?m not afraid to have friends and colleagues who disagree with me. Blocking is overrated and I much prefer to write about these experiences anyways.
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