Social media and all its dynamics is so interesting to me. I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but predominately Facebook for interacting with people I know personally. I looooveee Twitter, but mostly follow people I don’t know in real life and I don’t tweet a lot myself, although I wish I did (I feel self conscious on Twitter because the people I follow are all so, so smart, witty and quick). Instagram I can take or leave; I like words and discussions more than pictures, and really have no interest in those perfectly curated, “beautiful people” pictures people put on there (and all the rest I see on Facebook for the most part anyway).
I really love a good online debate, if it’s respectful. And I know I’m in the minority, but I do think a Facebook discussion can change minds, or at least cause someone to think about an issue in a different way. I always finish a Facebook debate with things to consider and ponder further, which I think is always a good thing. I fight the urge to comment only to “win”, but to really try to understand the reasons behind a different point of view.
This election season, I’ve posted several political articles that I thought inspired critical thinking and discussion. So much of what I see on Facebook is a bunch of people in an echo-chamber, posting stuff just to reaffirm what they and the majority of their friends believe anyway. I love when I see posts or articles online that challenge beliefs I’ve held for years. (Side note: America as a country needs a collective lesson on fact checking and how to discern legitimate news from bogus stories written by teenagers halfway across the world. Just sayin’).
I do understand there are lots of people who don’t use social media this way (to debate political or moral issues); they use it as an escape, and just want to see posts about people’s families or funny memes or lighthearted anecdotes. And that’s fine. I like that stuff too, but want a balance.
What I do not understand is when people block other people when they don’t agree with their views or even their lifestyle. And I’m not talking about when someone is abusive, obscene, or is causing their quality of life to decline because of an interaction online. Certainly, these are instances where someone should be blocked. I’m referring to blocking someone simply because of a differing point of view. Recently, I discovered (by accident) that I was blocked by someone who had previously unfriended me. I know I have very different views than a lot of my Facebook friends, but I don’t think (I hope) I am ever rude or degrading when I express those views. And I’m sure I’ve been unfollowed by people, which is fine, but to me, being unfollowed, or even unfriended, still leaves the door open for future interaction and possible discussions (maybe in person). But to be blocked feels so silencing and permanent. I’m not losing sleep over it, because come on, it’s just Facebook, but it does make me roll my eyes and wonder what the motivation behind that decision was. To me, it sends the message that my opinions or how I live my life is so offensive that this person feels better off with me not existing.
I don’t ever want to stop reading or seeing posts by people who disagree with me because I don’t want to ever be in a place where I think I have all the answers because everyone around me is affirming everything I say and read. I will always read a legitimate article or post from the “other side” and often it challenges me to fine-tune my own positions.
Do you block people on social media? For what reasons?