Social media is, in general, terrible. It’s full of people and people are terrible. Sometimes strangers, sometimes people you know and (although we don’t like to admit this) sometimes the terrible person is ourselves. Dealing with this is not something social media companies are very good at1 but generally at least you have a block function. This has led to some contention about when it’s ok as a private citizen to block someone. I now present my comprehensive guide for all the criteria you need to meet in order to justify blocking someone on social media:

You want to

It’s not a hard bar to hurdle.

I’ve been on both sides of blocking. I’ve been blocked many times. Sometimes I’ve discovered I’m blocked by a random person I don’t recall ever interacting with and I have no idea why they’ve done it. Sometimes it’s someone whose reasons I may or may not understand. (I’ve also solicited blocks from some terrible people for my own petty amusement).

On the other side I have someone who periodically attempts to re-establish contact after being blocked. As these things go it’s fairly mild. I’ve never feared for my safety. It’s only been an annoyance and a time sink. The original reasons why I blocked them are varied and maybe at the time the decision was hasty. Their actions since however have demonstrated that I was right to do so. Repeated calls from private numbers. Long emotionally manipulative email. Multiple Twitter accounts. Still doing these things after five years is well into creepy territory2. You’d think repeatedly hanging up on someone as soon as you realise who it is would make your point but apparently not.

Being blocked can be rough emotionally3. Humans typically don’t like rejection. If you’ve been blocked it’s natural to object and to want to know why. The problem you have is that continuing to attempt communication with someone who clearly doesn’t want to interact with you anymore makes you an arsehole. Trying to circumvent a block by creating a new account or going through other people becomes harassment very quickly. Don’t be that person. Learn from your regret and move on. There have been times when I’d like an explanation or a second chance. But there’s really no way to do that without starting down creepy stalker path.

You don’t owe people your time. You don’t diminish someone’s free speech by choosing not to listen. If avoiding someone’s abusive behaviour makes them feel bad then that’s their fault for being abusive. Life is short, block freely.

  1. Partly because it’s not profitable to be and partly because they’re run by deranged Silicon Valley types who aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are. ↩︎

  2. If this is you seek help. Seriously. This stalker shit is petty and tedious but it’s not ok. ↩︎

  3. Unless it’s someone from the Australian Christian Lobby because fuck those people. ↩︎