Friday, July 24, 2015

Observations on blocking on G+

People fascinate me. Some things I've noticed

  • the person doing the blocking almost always announces it, with emphasis, some kind of pride, and the verbal equivalent of a "talk to the hand" gesture;
  • the blocked person often doesn't care, but sometimes does, and continues to be pissy, or may even crow, as if "driving off the infidel" was some kind of victory;
  • usually, no one else in the thread ever seems to care.

Now, as I understand, blocking is one-click easy to do, but is kind of a pain in the ass to undo. Ergo, it is - for practical purposes - permanent.

For purposes of the following essay, I'll write in the first person for convenience and clarity, and reference the fictitious Dave as the other person.

Me: "I'm offended by what you said, Dave Buttweasel! I'm blocking you, loser!"

Now, I see two problems here:

  • I let myself get offended and wound up. At some level, I chose to lose control of my own thoughts and emotions;
  • I chose to permanently prevent myself from ever being exposed to Dave again, even in cases where we have mutual connections, which could result in my trying to experience a thread with one or more pieces missing, thus disrupting my ability to comprehend or enjoy the thread.

Now, I have blocked people, so I'm not innocent of the behavior. I'm just saying I it seems like it should only be after putting some thought into it.

The sample above is what I would consider a knee-jerk reaction, and frankly I find it pretty lame. Maybe he hated my politics, and this was just the tipping point? Maybe he secretly feels ashamed that he's posting these pictures? (I could suggest several reasons to justify a sense of shame, but I'm sure you're already way ahead of me.)

I don't know. He blocked me, so I can't even ask him. I can't apologize, or discuss it. I can't make amends, even if I wanted to. He'll never actually know if I give a crap, or not. He has decided I'm totally unimportant to his life. That's fine, really. He's entitled to decide who and what he cares about. It's just such an extreme choice to make, especially for something so trivial.  I was trying to make a joke, and use it as an excuse to drive other people to his thread.  He got offended; whatever.  I liked him, and didn't mind the pictures.

Then again, I have a high tolerance for assholes and idiots, because in many cases, they're really decent people just having a stupid moment. I know I have stupid moments, and some of them have been really embarrassing and caused me a lot of pain when people reacted badly. They say first impressions are important, and that's really because people are stupid and suck at ever changing their opinions on anything, but that's beside the point.

Conversely, I've muted piles of conversations in which I felt I said my piece, and feel I no longer want to be exposed to the negative stimulus of that particular thread. I'm not some kind of all-patient saint, I'm just a little more tolerant.

I usually find un-circling to be sufficient to reduce my exposure, while still allowing me to be exposed, when it suits a purpose, e.g. shared connections in a shared conversation.

Maybe I'm just not passionate enough? Maybe if I had stronger convictions, I'd find more things toxic?

I don't think so. I have very strong convictions, but getting into ugly fights isn't one of them. I'm perfectly comfortable walking away from a conversation that has no value to me. I don't need to "win" fights. Or maybe I call making my point and walking away "winning"? Bet the other person claims victory after I walk away; it's all subjective, and I don't have to care.

I've seen several people remark that they block others, because they don't want the toxic exposure. This makes sense, again, because it blocks viewing the comments.

Maybe if I was involved in more G+ communities, I would use the "block filter screen" more often. I guess I do this already, in the sense that I have joined only a couple of communities (actually, I think only one), and therefore already limit my exposure to stimulus I would consider negative.

Ultimately, at the moment, I think blocking is overused, as "mute conversation" and un-circling are also efficient at eliminating negative stimulus that I don't want to expend energy not getting wound up over. Maybe I'll change my opinion someday. :)

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