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

What I Mean When I Say, “Men Are Trash.”

Why are we so afraid of anger? Anger is, I think, one of the most useful emotions we have in our toolbox. It’s one of the best motivators in this life. Second only to cheese, I think.
Think of all the human rights organizations that wouldn’t exist if someone didn’t first get really friggin’ angry about a certain type of injustice. Anger is important and can be used to do huge and world-changing things. It’s powerful and can be and definitely is often times mishandled but just because it has been used incorrectly does not make it wrong. Changing the lives of millions isn’t the only way to use anger correctly but it’s an easy example.

We are particularly uncomfortable with an angry woman. We can’t handle the thought of an angry woman, can we? What do we do with angry women? We shut them down. We say “I can’t listen to you when you’re talking like that.” We say, “why are you so angry?” We say, “be nice.” We police her tone. We write her off as a bitch.

What do we say to angry men? We say, “Oh, he was upset when he said that. He didn’t mean it.” We say, “he has a powerful presence.” We say, “he’s just telling it like it is.” We bend over backwards to try to hear past the anger to the message at the bottom of it all. We do a lot of work to dig deep and give him the benefit of the doubt.

At the end of last week, I made an offhanded statement in frustration that “ugh. Men are trash.” Which, if you look back over the past few centuries weeks in the news you might find that men haven’t really been doing a great job of proving themselves not to be trash. It’s just, I mean… UGH! It doesn’t feel great. It makes us angry. It should make us angry. If we were making a list of times when it’s okay to be angry, finding out that we’ve been supporting sexual predators for decades is certainly on the list.

I got responses ranging from, “you’re a reverse sexist” to, “how does your husband feel about what you just said??” to “I’m really trying to hear your heart but it’s hard because I’m just so hurt by what you said.” They said that I’m smarter than that and other patronizing excuses that patriarchy uses over and over and over again to dismiss and quiet down angry women.

This frustrates me because I really thought that the venue that I chose for this statement was one primarily filled with people who would actually get what I’m trying to say. It’s not the kind of thing that I would just say to anyone. But they call themselves feminists and allies. Though, if there’s anything we’ve learned after the Louis C.K. reveal, it’s that even our allies don’t get it as much as we want them to. As much as they say they want to. They just can’t get it.

So, now that I have the time, energy, and patience to do so, let me do the work of unpacking what I mean when I say, “men are trash” to a group of teammates:

First of all, if I was trying to make an intelligent and mind-changing argument, I absolutely wouldn’t have used a three-word sweeping generalization.
I will also admit that I was expecting too much when I thought that male allies would be able to mentally put the “some” at the beginning of the sentence. It was also a lot to expect them to have the self-awareness required to know whether or not that statement described them.

“Men are trash” means I’m so exhausted: I’m so tired from my regular everyday life of being a woman in the world. And then on top of that, you throw in how every single day we hear about new ways that men we’ve been supporting for years have been using that support as leverage to force women into degrading and dehumanizing situations. Situations that we’ve all been in and re-live over and over and over again every time we hear about it or think about it or fall asleep and have dreams and then wake up thinking about it and then, oh! What’s that? Another one? Cool. Yeah. Of course. Just pile that on. Nothing surprises us anymore. Just keep re-traumatizing us over and over again. It’s fiiiiiiine.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that this is happening. People should be held accountable for their abuse of others no matter how late it is. I’m willing to sit through the re-traumatization as much as I can as long as the world is changing because of it. Back when it was just happening with no consequences (you know, like when a sexual predator was elected to the presidency?), it was too much.

Then, in a moment of exasperation–at the end of one of these days at the end of one of these weeks I’ll say not the most intelligent and enlightening thing in the whole world. Please and thank you for telling me about how sad you are that I didn’t bend over backwards to make you feel good about yourself and how you’re the exception. Yes. That is very helpful. You’re out here doing the Lord’s work. Where would I be without you?

Even in our anger, even in our pain, we are expected to accommodate and smile and curtsey and offer tea and pray quietly that you’ll hear us. But you kind of can’t really hear us because we don’t sound serious enough because it’s all covered in a delicate sweet glaze and how angry can we really be if we’re serving you sugar? But then when we serve you our truth, you tell us we’re too much. You can’t hear us through our tone and your hurt feelings. Well, what do you want from us?

Drawing from Ambivalently Yours

A man can shoot up a public space and the world grasps their collective pearls and says, “Oh, he was hurting or sick.” Meanwhile, I have to beg for a pass to express frustration in the presence of those who claim to be on my side. GAH! It’s so unsurprising, though, to those of us who have lived a life in a female body that you almost don’t think to mention it. Just a day in the life for us.

I am no longer responding to men who ask me to educate them for free. I’ll write here on my blog where I’m in charge of saying whatever I want whenever I want to but I’m no longer responding to men who want me to make them feel better about their advocacy without first sharing my PayPal information. I don’t have enough energy left in a day to not be getting paid for this labor. And if you’re the kind of person who needs me to personally come to you and assure you that you’re not trash because you can’t decide that on your own, well, then you’re kind of trash.

Exhausted Lib

Oh, and, PS
My husband doesn’t care that I say “men are trash” on the internet for the following reasons:
1. He’s not the boss of me and I don’t have to answer to him.
2. He knows that statement doesn’t describe him.
3. He knows that, yeah, some men are certainly proving to be extra trash these days. 


Lead photo by W on Unsplash