I'm really sad about something I don't understand and was hoping you could explain. Why do people block without giving a reason to? I don't why it first seems like it's all going so well then the next you're blocked and you don't know why or what you did or said wrong? It's happened twice now and to say it hurts is an understatement.
Oh, my precious Kabby babies. Circle up, it’s time for some firm but gentle life advice from Mom.
First of all, unless I personally am the person who blocked you (which I’m obviously not since we’re having this conversation!), in a very real sense the short answer to this question is that you know I can’t actually answer this question. You’re asking me to tell you why a person I don’t know did a thing for which I have no context, and for which there could be a thousand reasons. So in a concrete, specific sense, my answer is: I do not know.
(You knew there was going to be a however.)
Social media is a deeply personal avenue for self-expression and it’s also a world where many of us spend a great deal of our time, which means that we have the full and free right to customize it into exactly what we want it to be. The things that you post are personal reflections of you, which is why it bums you out when someone mutes or blocks or doesn’t follow back; it feels on some level like a personal rejection. But the space you curate is also a personal reflection of you. You have the right to post anything you want and other people have the right to choose not to see it. Both of those rights are equal, even though you’re only on one side so naturally the other one feels like it’s in some way “wrong.”
I’m speaking with zero context for what your preexisting relationship with these people was beforehand (like obviously if it was a close friend and they blocked you out of nowhere, you’re going to have to sort that out with them directly, I can’t advise you there), but it’s important to remember that there may be no “right” and wrong” in this scenario. It’s fully possible for both of these things to peacefully coexist at the same time:
1) your absolute right to feel a little bit rejected and hurt that a stranger on the internet made the choice that they didn’t want your social media sphere to overlap with their social media sphere,
2) that other person’s absolute right to say “if something or someone makes me feel even the tiniest bit ‘nope’ I am purging it out of this space so it is exactly what I want and need it to be.”
They don’t need to have a reason. That sucks, when you’re on the receiving end of it, which all of us have been - it truly and genuinely sucks - but it’s also reality. One of the hard truths that incidents like this make us sometimes have to face - and we don’t want to face these things, because they can feel really icky and vulnerable and ping all the little gremlins in our brain - is this:
nobody on the internet owes you their time or attention for anything you do or say.
This sounds mean and brutal, and I don’t mean it to be, because you know mom loves you, but it’s incredibly important, so I’m going to say it again to make sure that if nothing else, this gets through:
nobody on the internet owes you their time or attention for anything you do or say.
The celebs you stan don’t owe you a response to your tweet, just because you want one. The people you tag in meta don’t owe you reblogging it to continue having that conversation with you forever, just because you want to prove you’re right. The fans of the fic you write for your most popular ship don’t owe you crossing over to give you hits on your rare-pair fic if they don’t feel like it. Nobody owes you a certain number of followers, nobody owes you a response to every anon you send them, nobody owes you finishing that fic you like in time for them to read it when they feel like reading it. We owe each other one thing and one thing only: basic human decency. That’s it. Everything else is freely offered to the world, and freely taken by the people who want it. It’s not a transactional exchange. If you make art or write fic and you put it out there into the world, you’ve done a cool thing, and whether it gets ten hits or thousands it was still worth doing. There will be people who aren’t interested, but if you get hung up on feeling rejected by that, it will paralyze you.
Social media is personal. That’s unavoidable. It’s an extension of ourselves. When someone is cruel to you or to one of your friends on the internet, even if it’s an anonymous stranger, it feels shitty. When you express an opinion about something and a ton of people reblog it and the tags are full of “OMG YES THISSSSS”, it feels great. We all experience that in different ways. Society has always selected arbitrary measures for young girls and women to live up to in order to feel like they’re popular or they’re approved by the cool kids, and right now it’s things like “how many followers do you have” and “did you get an RT from a celebrity” and “how many likes on your posts”. So on a primal level, maybe having someone you thought was a friend block you on Twitter or Tumblr hits you in the same deep core place as having the cool kids not come to your birthday party. That feeling is super real! It brings up alllllll that deep stuff we try to hide and pretend that we’re above experiencing, but we all have those squishy vulnerable inner selves that just need the cool kids to like us and we feel bad when they don’t.
I had this exact conversation with my therapist a few weeks ago when she was giving me a hard time because my book has 60 reviews on Amazon, of which like the majority are 5 stars with two negative ones, and I have both the negative ones like memorized. And she was like “CLAIRE. WHAT THE HELL. WHY DO YOU DO THIS? 58 POSITIVE AND YOU CANNOT QUOTE A SINGLE ONE. TWO SHITTY ONES AND YOU KNOW THEM VERBATIM. THAT IS NOT HEALTHY BEHAVIOR.” And I was like “… . okay fine when you put it that way, yes I do sound like a crazy person.” So like my advice to you – advice which I have just proven I am absolute garbage at taking myself, so like I may have just eroded my own credibility in my efforts to help – is to remember that you probably have a lot more than two followers so honestly this is probably not a bad collective ratio, and there may be lots of people who are very interested in what you have to say but you’ve focused a lot of your energy on these two people and it’s worth giving some thought as to why that is.
My question for you is this: what is the net negative impact of having these
two people block you on social media?
Like in an actual, concrete way, separate from those sort of core gut “I
feel unloved in this moment” feelings, what is the effect on your life? You might be surprised. It might be zero. In which case, let yourself feel those
feelings, experience them as valid, and then breathe through them and move on
and keep on doin’ you.
I’m pushing back on you a little bit here very gently because it feels, reading this anon, like you’ve made a determination of hurtful intent on the part of the person who blocked you, or at the very least a certainty that this choice that made was about you and not about them. That the fact that things seemed to be going fine and then they blocked you means you were somehow intentionally misled or mistreated. Be really, really, really careful about deciding the cool girl didn’t come to your birthday party because she’s a bitch who wanted to make you feel terrible and is sitting somewhere cackling at the thought of your sad lil’ face waiting by the front door; maybe she didn’t come to your birthday party because she has depression and it’s hard for her to leave the house sometimes and she knew your party would be loud and wild and crazy and too much for her brain to handle right now. Be careful about presuming negative intent with no proof it exists. The internet makes this so easy, the internet conditions us for this, and it conditions us to respond in kind. The worst thing you could do here is to, like, make a callout post or subtweet in the hopes that it will get back to them and they’ll feel bad, or to sic your other followers onto them, because that turns this into a situation that really does have a right and wrong; and since you don’t know if they were trying to make you feel shitty, or just went on a big block/mute purge to whittle their list down for mental health reasons that are totally their own, once things escalate you can’t put the horse back in the barn. It’s too late. Now it’s A Thing, when maybe it never really needed to be A Thing. And in almost all situations for almost all people in almost all ways, Kabby Mom’s advice is going to be, “please think carefully before you make this A Thing.”
This got long, I’ve been having a lot of thoughts lately about the conversations I’m always having with fandom folks the way we let social media permeate and shape our sense of self, in good ways and bad, so I apologize for my verbosity but also not really because that’s how things roll over in Kabby Mom’s Advice Corner. But I will sum up in bullet points for those of you who have been skimming, to bring you up to speed:
- Everyone has the right to curate their own social media space
however they see fit, and they don’t have to explain their reasons.
- They aren’t obligated to include you in that space even if you want them to.
- None of that is an objective measure of your worth as a person or a sign that you should stop being you on the internet.
- Your feelings of rejection come from a real place and you get to feel
them, as long as
- You are striving to move through them without permitting them to paralyze
you, and finally
- You never use someone else’s choice to curate their social media sphere as a justification for treating them like crap.
Focus on your positive interactions instead of negative ones – your friends, creating stuff and putting it out into the universe – whether it be art, fic, opinions, a podcast, gifsets, crackposts, whatever – and your social media world will be a better place.
In the immortal words of the great Michael J. Fox, “What other people think of me is none of my business.”