Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The Joys of Blocking People

Mmm, earlier today someone I follow on Twitter retweeted a famous comedian being dumb, and so I had the joy of blocking both of them. So delicious! Every time I see an ad on Twitter, I block the company. (So long, KmartDeals, StaplesUS, Walmart Specials.) Every time someone annoys me majorly, I don't unfollow: I just go the extra mile and block 'em. It's great! You're nuking them from your universe! Am I annoying you? You should block me too!

All the people who would be unhappy about you unfollowing them, who subscribe to services like Qwitter or Friend or Follow or whatever… well, just think how unhappy they'll be when they actually discover that you've blocked them. It's the best! It's still a fairly new behavior, that Twitter will let people know that you've blocked them if you try to follow them: it used to be obscured. That was part of the New Internet Nice. Twitter didn't want to make people feel bad. But there's no way around "feeling bad" when someone's saying "I find you distasteful, offensive, annoying or just plain uninteresting, and I don't want to indulge your silly babble!"

I know a guy, a serious reporter and a grown adult, who, when he finds out that people have unfollowed him, blocks each and every one of them permanently, as a matter of course. It's genius! I don't really know why he uses Twitter in this way, it's not my cup of tea (I just follow people who amuse, interest or inform me, no matter if they care about me or not), but I think it's terrific! Making people DEAD TO YOU is so important.

This is obvious and all, but it's incredibly new that people have this much access to you. Back in the day, you used to have to like, call a company switchboard and get connected to someone's assistant to leave them a message? (I KNOW! Gather around, young people! Let me tell you about directory assistance.) Which they would then return at some later date, maybe? Now most anyone can get at anyone online, and I am totally pro on this thing, because 1. convenience, 2. democracy, 3. fun, 4. opportunity, 5. chaos! Maybe that's most important: that the Internet now allows more and more for random, chaotic connections.

Even with celebrities. I always loved Neko Case, for instance, but all I knew, back in the day, about her take on This Wacky Modern World was from random and rare interviews. Like I knew that she hated piracy deeply from this one interview, and I was like "Oh well she's right but she sounds like a stick in the mud, and she's just another person who hates the Internet, I guess, too bad." But she does not hate the Internet! And now I get to know, like, every time her dog farts. I could even try to talk to her about dogs farting if I felt so moved! That is the best kind of chaos.

But all this rubbing of shoulders doesn't mean that we have to be victims. A whole bunch of people have made arguments about why blocking people is mean or bad etiquette or whatever, but basically they should sack up and be adult. A "block" isn't even much of an isolation as it's constituted. And it should be. When you get blocked, your internet avatars should feel like they've been punched in the kidneys. But your real-life kidneys probably shouldn't notice, what with the Internet not being a very great place to find self-worth and all.

80 Comments / Post A Comment

katherine (#10,025)

Theory: Blocking on Twitter is so satisfying because the interface makes it so snappy. Reporting someone for spam feels like popping bubble wrap or something, it's great.

ericdeamer (#945)

@katherine See I agree that the interface makes it FEEL snappy and I enjoy reporting for spam at the moment I'm doing it but at the same time I have this lingering feeling like it's not actually accomplishing anything. I do it all the time and yet twitter seems so overrun with spambots (or at best real humans who are affiliate marketers or something) that all the reporting doesn't seem to be solving the problem.

Vicky (#7,168)

@katherine It becomes less satisfying when someone you've blocked shows up on the follow suggestions column!

saythatscool (#101)

Brian Moylan blocked me after I made up a bunch of fake retweets attributed to him.

I consider this a crowning achievement.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool- We need the 10 rules for Gays Blocking Straights, stat.

jolie (#16)

@saythatscool Matt Langer blocked me after I responded to something cunty he wrote by quoting his own words back to him on the topic of … wait for it … the new niceness. Sometimes I still think about it and laugh and laugh and laugh.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@saythatscool Whatever you're in my killfile so I didn't even read this.

saythatscool (#101)


SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@saythatscool Did you ever notice that Sarah Jessica Parker looks a little equine, almost?

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Blox In The Shitty.

saythatscool (#101)

@SidAndFinancy That lovely young thing? Why no. She's a portrait of New York Glamor meets Girl Next Door.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool He's a neighsayer.

saythatscool (#101)

@scroll_lock Are we really going to do this old shtick, Pal-o-mine-o?

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool – Let's meet up in Filly and discuss it.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

Is the "New Internet Nice" the same thing as the "New Sincerity"? Because I got blocked by Jesse Thorn for calling him out on misogyny. That was pretty fun!

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Here's a simple quiz:

1. Do you know, without checking, exactly how many followers/friends you have on any given social media platform?

If the answer is yes, your life is not fulfilling enough! Start writing a novel or learning to bake pastries or something.

Brian (#115)

@DoctorDisaster Yes, the world needs more fiction and obesity.

laurel (#4,035)

@DoctorDisaster I'm 24K words into a novel and bake like a mutherfucker yet I still know how many followers I have (it's easy because I neglect my job).

macartney (#1,889)

@Brian PIZZA!!!

flossy (#1,402)

@DoctorDisaster What if that number is like, seven? Does knowing that off the top of my head make me pathetic because I know it, or does the underlying twitter incompetence render me pathetic whether or not I can quantify it without checking?

cherrispryte (#444)

@Brian Team Fiction and Obesity, reporting for duty! Would you prefer a haiku or a lemon tart?

melis (#1,854)

@cherrispryte I'd like a meringue cinquain.

Every once in while when I'm bored, I like to search out and block wingnuts – you know, people who use #tcot unironically or have things like "conservative", "liberty", or "jesus" in their bios. It's not like they'll ever even know I did it, but it's still fun.

lawyergay (#220)

All I know is that if Jackee Harry ever blocks me, I will kill myself.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@lawyergay – Tony Orlando can't get Dawn to unblock me.

ejcsanfran (#489)

I remember when I was a kid and someone would send me a telegram and I would just not answer the door! So, I think this was the precursor to Twitter blocking.

melis (#1,854)

@ejcsanfran There are better ways of avoiding a telegram.

jfruh (#713)

Neko Case's fart jokes are roughly 65% of why I like Twitter! I thought for a minute that the point of that tweet at the top of this was that it prompted Choire to block her and I was about to be outraged on behalf of her, and humanity, and farting dogs.

Also, she shares gnomic wisdom like "Gentlemen: A clitoris is not a doorbell." TAKE NOTE, FELLAS.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@jfruh – Any ding dong knows that.

SeanP (#4,058)

@scroll_lock damn, beat me to the "ding dong" joke.

@jfruh – Agree. As much as I love Choire, we were going to have words if he'd blocked Neko Case–for any reason.

Not that I follow her myself, as I'm not on Twitter (yet?). But it's the principle…

scroll_lock (#4,122)

I block the Costco lady who swoops in when you're checking out with that cardreader to try and announce how much you've spent there and upsell you to the executive card membership. Her puzzled look of disbelief is priceless. But by far the best block is the dating website block.

saythatscool (#101)

@scroll_lock That reminds me, why did you block me on fistmylovehole.com? I thought we were tight again?

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool – Well, ONE of us is tight and one isn't. But that's why you've got those special pants.

saythatscool (#101)

@scroll_lock Mom says I don't have to wear those anymore because it's been a whole month since my last accident.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool – Here, have some chips and Olestra dip.

saythatscool (#101)

@scroll_lock Oh thanks! You know how I love these and it's been so long ….. HEYYYYYYYYYY

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool – It's just like watching the BP spill again.

saythatscool (#101)


cherrispryte (#444)


saythatscool (#101)


scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool As Mother Lock always said, "That which doesn't kill you gives you oily discharge."

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool That's otterly ridiculous.

so when are you going to let us block commenters

saythatscool (#101)

@Bus Driver Stu Benedict I forgot that you four digit commenters can't do that. Everyone below 1,000 can block and even delete accounts. Just another Awl advantage because Choire loves us most.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool Commenters below 100 can webcam spy on those between 100-200.

Matt (#26)

Yeah but why would we?

NinetyNine (#98)

@Matt Something something MeFi number.

@saythatscool do it man you know you want to

saythatscool (#101)

@Bus Driver Stu Benedict I could never.

Rod T (#33)

@scroll_lock: And it must be said: you people dress drearily.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@Rod T But saythatscool isn't dressed at all!

saythatscool (#101)

@Rod T (I had to take my special pants off and wash them.)

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@saythatscool Check your pants and your inbox.

Matt (#26)

You people are doing this all wrong. What you need to do is get in a Cold War Nuclear Arms Race game of chicken with people you hate such that the first person to unfollow loses. I'm really, really fucking good at this game.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Does this mean it's okay to make fun of Ryan Brown again to me?

Claire Zulkey (#6,639)

Can someone tell me why you'd want to know if you've been blocked?

@Claire Zulkey Far more important than knowing people pay attention to you is knowing that they go out of their way not to.

roboloki (#1,724)

i've blocked myself because i get on my own damn nerves.

ericdeamer (#945)

Ha! I totally didn't check to see if Choire blocked me from following him or stopped following me with the @Awl account (which I think he manages). I would NEVER do that. That would be PATHETIC.

BadUncle (#153)

@saythatscool The only people following me are these stunning Russian singles. Oddly, they don't really respond to what I say, but seem eager to meet.

I was really hoping this was going to be a post about the best ways to thwart the safety blitz. I'm so confused?

@Clarence Rosario – That's the subject of a post on the Awl Network's forthcoming sports site, The Steeplechase (to be curated by Jim Behrle).

And isn't the answer just the quick slant?

@Setec Astrology That, or the running back picks up the safety.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

I was told the point of Twitter is to get back to one follower?

hockeymom (#143)

Ted Leo, Neko Case and Aimee Mann all yelled at me on Twitter for wondering if I could take my kids to Book of Mormon (it was early, before I knew too much about it and the answer is NO, obvs, you can't take your kids, how stupid of me to ask). Leo, in particular, thought I was a huge idiot.
It was simultaneously the high point and low point of my Twitter life.

Tully Mills (#6,486)

Every single time I tweet, it's predicated on the hope that someone will tell me to shut up and block me in huff. ARE YOU LISTENING @SAYTHATSCHOOL.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@Tully Mills- That School? What school?

deepomega (#1,720)

@Tully Mills Say That School is my favorite game show!

deepomega (#1,720)

@scroll_lock YALE! COLUMBIA!

Tully Mills (#6,486)

@deepomega University of Phoenix!

Rod T (#33)

What was the latest Twitter valuation? I still just do not get it.

carpetblogger (#306)

It's this kind of comment thread that keeps me from blocking The Awl.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I wear the handles of my blockers like campaign ribbons, separated by a little embroidered @.

Tully Mills (#6,486)

@Tulletilsynet I write their names in white out on my dark green JanSport.

Tracy@twitter (#230,371)

I only recently got to the point of being fed up enough to block (non-spam) people; Last week it was this guy who instead of scrolling or looking in any of the (fairly obvious) places, flat-out asked me if [news] had been announced yet, when no more than ten minutes before I had been bemoaning the lack of [news]. I'd answered a fair share of equally-stupid/obvious/1-minute-of-research questions from him before, and I just couldn't anymore. Blocked. No more. Love it.

El Matardillo (#586)

I was blocked once by someone's cat, but a little salmon took care of it nicely.

auto1quote (#231,156)

it was awesome!

urchild01 (#231,160)

@auto1quote. we have a same feeling on this

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