The Joys of Blocking People

Dog farts + jet lag feels like the worst hangover I’ve ever had. Ouch.

— Neko Case (@NekoCase) February 9, 2012

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.