To Block or Not to Block

Social media, you guys. Sosh meeds as my close, personal friend favorite podcaster Phoebe Lynn Robinson calls it (though I’m not exactly sure how she spells it). There’s sooo much debate on whether or not it’s good for you or whether or not you should be using it or how it’s ruining our whole world or how it’s bringing us all together or how it’s ruining the need for high school reunions or whatever. I’m not here to engage in that conversation. I love social media. I love Facebook and I love Instagram and you can pry them from my cold, dead hands.

Yeah, though. Yeah. There are some parts that make it a little unbearable. Like that one older woman that used to babysit you when you were a kid and somehow and mysteriously manages to end every single comment thread she engages with (and she signs her name which is endearing). Or that one guy who calls you a “libtard” with such frequency that you are thinking about changing your name to it but you remember him as a fun guy from your youth, so you remain Facebook friends with him even though everything he posts and every comment he makes causes a visceral reaction in you. Or that person who you don’t really know that well but they’re a friend of a friend and you feel kind of obligated to keep that Facebook friendship even though sometimes you wake up in the morning and see that they’ve sent you a message overnight that reads, “uup?” And finally the very random men who pop up in DM’s with lyrical attempts to sweep me off my feet that read, “you gat a beautiful smile just like you.” Or, “look how awesome you are looking.” (Both very real messages that were sent to me in the past few weeks.) One of my most favorite joys in life is screenshotting these messages, sending them to my husband, laughing at them, and then smashing that block button so these guys can never talk to me again. They don’t care, they’re sending the same, misspelled messages to hundreds of women.

For some, the bad far outweighs the good and they just wash their hands of all of it. That’s great. I, personally, find a lot of joy in my social media–when I am in charge of how I use it and who I talk to. Everyone is different and everyone has something that works for them. For me, I have a technique that I’m excited to pass along to you. Are you ready for it?

Use that block button, baby. Smash that block button. Ruin that block button! Hit “block” often enough that support staff has to send you a message that says, “Are you sure you even want to be using this application?” And you’re like, “Um… well, actually now that you mention it.” But YES! You do want to keep using this application because the behavior of other people doesn’t determine whether or not you get to engage with the fun parts of your life. At least, that’s not the life I’m living.

I know, look, it seems harsh. It comes across like you’re punishing someone for bad behavior but I promise you that’s not what it is. You can’t control other people and I don’t want you to ever try. It’s futile and maddening. But if you are regularly encountering someone online who makes your cortisol levels rise and you never don’t have that feeling when you engage with them–using that block button is an exercise in self care. Do it. Feel that instant relief. It’s not a punishment for them. It has nothing to do with them at all, actually. This is all about you giving yourself permission to enjoy your internet. Yeah, you could just hide them from your feed. And you can try that out as a preliminary measure if you want. But if you’re anything like me, in dark times you’ll find yourself in a place where you know that going over to their page will get you all riled up. You’ll feel so alive! And you’ll fall down a spiral where you’re hate-reading everything they have to say. This is a specific and very real form of self-harm and you’re allowed to put the kibosh on it. Just use that block button.

The beauty of the block button is that no one has to know. No one has to know that you you used it. They don’t get a notification that you’ve blocked them. You never, ever see them on your social media and they’ll never ever see yours. For the most part, you won’t even know that the other person exists at all and both of you will be a little more relaxed (even if they’re not sure why). It’s good for me. It feels good–sometimes. Sometimes it feels good in the way that cleaning your room feels good, it’s not fun but you’re going to sleep so well tonight.

Now, look, there is a chance that one day far from now, they might be able to find out that you’ve blocked them. The only time they’ll know that someone has blocked them is if you’re both commenting on a thread and someone directly addresses you without tagging you in their comment (which is pretty rare amongst most FB savvy people). They’ll see that person’s comment and be like, “weird, I don’t see Libby commenting on this thread, I wonder why Marcia mentioned her…” And then they might be like, “that’s strange” and move along, or they’ll do a little bit of mental gymnastics to determine that you’ve blocked them. Either way, I hope they see that their internet life has been a little more peaceful without you in it and you’ll rest easy knowing that, at least on your end, that’s been true.

Now, I personally don’t believe in blocking people just because you have a difference of opinion. I think it’s important to have conversations and see the other side of the coin. I know, liberals allowing discourse? I can hardly believe it, myself. (I’ve had people leave comments on this very blog where they didn’t agree with what I’ve had to say and their comment will say something like, “You’ll probably block this from even appearing on your site…” Just know that I allow every single comment to appear on this site. That’s my policy. We never have to agree on everything–in fact I prefer that we don’t, that’s a very boring way to live. The only time I’ve ever denied a comment is when I can tell it was written by a spam bot. Don’t be a spam bot and I’ll let your comments through–I promise.) But I think respectful, honest conversations between people is a crucial part of being a whole person. But if you can’t have a respectful, honest conversation with a person (be it your fault or theirs), let it go. Block them. It’s okay. It’s good for everyone.

What do you think? What’s your unfriend/ block policy? Do you think mine is too harsh? Let me know!

Feature photo by Mikaela Shannon on Unsplash

Peacekeeping/ Peacemaking: Neither is Likely on Facebook

I have come to the conclusion that I am no longer interested in playing the role of the peacekeeper. Instead, I choose a more active position—that of peacemaker.

The peacekeeper flits about, doing all she can to make sure that things are fine and happy on the surface level. No one gets too ruffled. No one raises too much of a fuss. She’s an expert at anticipating the needs of another person who can not be bothered to recognize all the work she’s putting in to keep the waters still. Running herself ragged to make sure that someone else doesn’t run themselves at all. We ignore anything marginally uncomfortable by means of either distraction or denial and in that, we perpetuate this very calm, very idealized façade. An overturned couch cushion to hide a stain. A closet stuffed with mess that we couldn’t possibly let company see—building up and building up until it becomes more than we can handle on our own and we drown in it.


Peacemakers, on the other hand, we’re going to pull everything out of that closet and get to the bottom of it. It’s going to be messy for a while until it’s all been dealt with properly but once it’s organized, all it requires is a commitment to dealing with each little mess as it comes. We will do the hard work in the immediate, knowing that we’re paying tomorrow’s bill. Hear me! We might make a mess! But it will pay off! That is why I am choosing peacemaker.

I am neither, at times, and I am also both. Choosing the peacemaker role will never come as naturally to me but I will commit to doing it as often as I recognize that I have a choice in the matter.

As peacemakers, we have a duty to create peace in the lives of ourselves and others. The act of creating peace can be quite messy but it can also be quite simple. Sometimes it means speaking up for a co-worker whose voice has been spoken over several times. Sometimes it means taking to the streets—turning out in record numbers to let the new man in power know that there are things he has promised that we’ll fight tooth and nail against. You have to fight to keep peace. I know, it sounds like a double-negative but when you think of who currently holds the peace and who is literally dying for it, it’s easier to understand.

Remember back in time with me a little bit: after the election, the internet was a frustrating place to be. Do you remember what it was like? It was hard to spend much time on Facebook without feeling disheartened. I spent a few days just scrolling and scrolling and scrolling—looking for something that would explain to me what I was feeling and why. I think we all know that if you’re looking for what’s in your soul, Facebook is a terrible place to hunt for it.

But the election passed and we all gradually came back after our hiatuses and kept sharing cat videos or photos of baby animals wrapped up like burritos to one another.

Paris Women’s March Photo: The New York Times

And then it was the inauguration—quickly followed by the Women’s March. I mostly didn’t have anything to say about the inauguration so I didn’t. But the Women’s March made my heart swell! I was filled with all this pride! The speakers! The record numbers! The way that the whole world stood together to say, “See us? We’re going to hold this new administration accountable to caring for everyone.” I was floating on Feminist Cloud Nine!
But shock of all shocks… I felt my Facebook interactions beginning to mimic those that I was having around the time of the election, again. Facebook wasn’t safe and fun anymore. While this likely surprised no one else, this shocked me. To put it in the most childlike terms: before, my team lost. And that’s why I thought that I was upset on the internet. This time my team did something awesome and I was still upset on the internet. It seems that the common denominator was, in fact, me on the internet.

I did a much better job, this time. I chose not to comment far more often than I actually did. And when I did comment, I was usually very careful with my words (except for a time or two when I ended up deleting things I’d said). I am not apologetic about the way I behaved on the internet. Even still, after these precautions were taken, I still found myself totally unsatisfied and just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, searching for something to make my soul feel better. And of course, we all know I didn’t find it. Because the thing that feeds my soul is not on the internet. It’s not in making people agree with me. And then I remembered something super important: Facebook is a voluntary activity.

It’s almost impossible to be a peacemaker on Facebook. I think it’s a great tool to use to help organize but as far as enacting change? The comment section of a tired meme is quite useless for that.


Most conversations in that space are all about trying to get someone to agree with you if they don’t already. And if they already do, a lot of the time it’s just patting ourselves on the back about how right we are. I think I’d rather talk to people in person. Don’t you? In person, I don’t know what a person’s political affiliations are because rarely does anyone have a photo of an eagle carrying a machine gun under the American flag instead of a face. I don’t care if they agree with my excitement over the women’s march. I just want to talk about books with that person—or swap recipes—or ask how their day is. In person when I disagree with someone I find myself much more eager to find out where they’re coming from. I feel like they hear me, too. In person, people almost never call one another mean names when there’s a minor misunderstanding. In person, people are a lot more forgiving and graceful.

In person, you can be the peacemaker.


PS: If you’re interested in the concept of Peacemaker VS Peacekeeper, you might also be interested in this post I happened upon the other day called Nice Girls VS Kind Women.

On Friendship and Being a Grown Up

Something about waltzing into adulthood makes it feel completely impossible to connect with the people that you hold dearest. Thirteen years ago, we were all right next to one another, packed into dorm rooms and studio apartments like sardines. Happy to fit six to a couch. The connection was inevitable when we lived too close to one another.

“No friendship is an accident.” O. Henry

Image(49).jpg  Continue reading “On Friendship and Being a Grown Up”

We Go High

Have you ever logged onto Facebook, looked around for a while, put it away, and then felt better about your life/ yourself/ the state of our country or world? Like—has that ever happened to anyone?
Has anyone ever thought, “boy, I’m having a rough day. I know what will fill my love-tank: FACEBOOK!” No, no one has ever done that and that’s never happened, either. Except maybe on accident. Or on your birthday. But even on your birthday, you get a couple hundred “HBD!’s” from people that you haven’t seen in a decade and then there’s the guilt from not having a thoughtful response to each person because who can keep up with that? You’d have to take a day off work.

Continue reading “We Go High”