Recently I had a rather confusing private conversation with a person I have “known” on Facebook (FB) for less than a year. She distrusts me; I distrust her. She has now blocked me. Which is fine. She can do that. I assume she finds our interactions stressful. I often feel the same way. Unfortunately, as I will detail below, we may not be able to just leave it at that.
A few technical details for the uninitiated: The FB software is very much organized to promote atomistic individualism. It enables every member to choose with whom we interact and “where” we interact. This can be a problem in FB groups. In FB groups conversations take place between many individuals at once. If one of the participants has another person blocked, neither can see the other’s comments or their posts. This means, if I post on a FB group that this woman and I are both in, she cannot see that post, nor any comments on the subsequent thread. Even if the people commenting on my post are her FB friends (which would normally mean she was notified) she won’t see them, because the original post was mine.
By blocking me, she has informed FB she wants to see nothing in her feed that I post or say. FB complies. The software also makes sure I see nothing she posts and none of her comments, even *if* we are both in the same group.
A different issue arises when a mutual friend of ours posts or when *anyone* posts in a group we both belong to. If a third party posts, we can both see it, and we can see any comments that other people make. We cannot, however, see one another comments. Sometimes this makes for trouble.
An illustrative example: Person A has person B blocked. Person A then comments on a post in a group that both are in, “The cost of candy is rising exponentially.” A third party, “C” replies to the comment, saying “I disagree because you did not account for the price of bubble gum which is falling rapidly.” Now person B (who has A blocked and cannot, therefore, see her comment) reads the comment by C and cannot make sense of C’s statement. To her, it looks completely out of context. She cannot see A’s comment to which it refers. Because of this issue, and experiences with such awkward conversations in which *everyone* involved can become confused, some groups put a rule in place that members cannot block other members.
I hope that makes sense. Blocking creates problems in FB groups.
Now, some people on FB enthusiastically support the idea of blocking. They see it as a self-protective action and an appropriate response to cyber-bullying. I do not think this is an unreasonable position. Blocking, rather than continually reengaging, can prevent (often useless & unproductive) conflicts. This is especially valid, IMO, when two people clash repeatedly with one another, and are unable to come to terms, to agree to disagree.
(This is the case, BTW with the woman who has now blocked me. We have had disagreements before that were not resolved. The first time, I voluntarily left a group because she was very upset about my disagreeing with her. She didn’t tell me that. She told a third party and asked them to intervene and “straighten me out.” At the time, I felt she was such a pivotal member, it would be better if I left for the good of the group. The second time we disagreed with one another, *she* left the group we were in. This third time, there was no actual, written disagreement. It was a private conversation. She was complaining about the behaviour of a mutual FB acquaintance, and I was not replying directly to those comments. Instead, I ignored them, replied more generally, and addressed specifics on which we mutually agreed. It is all quite pathetic, actually! Two grown women! Completely ridiculous that we cannot come to some simple agreement about how to deal with one another when we disagree.)
For the record, I have blocked two people on FB. The first person had engaged me twice in a manner I found frustrating and totally unproductive. After public differences of opinion, she engaged me in private conversations (which FB also enables). In each one she started out by trying to reason with me, to restate and elaborate her earlier position, and then, accused me of character defects when I continued to disagree. This i find tedious and offensive. I prefer not to engage with her anymore; there seems no point.
In the second case, a person who seemed unfamiliar with FB software engaged with me on my personal wall, thinking that our conversation was taking place on the wall of a mutual FB friend. What apparently happened is that my status update showed up when I tagged this mutual FB friend in the post. (Tagging happens when we write the name of another FB member. FB highlights the person and allows us to “call out” to them. This way, people know when others mention them in posts or comments.) On the occasion in question, my status update showed up on the tagged friend’s wall, as well as my own. This third party, whom I had never interacted with before, commented on my status. Her comments showed up on *my* wall. I attempted to explain what was happening. S/he got quite angry and told me to stop “talking” to him/her. The only way to do that, given that s/he seemed not to understand that s/he was actually “talking to me” on my own private FB wall, was to block him/her. So I did.
So, back to the main story. I have been blocked by someone. We share a lot of mutual FB friends. We are in many of the same groups. One of the groups we are in has a rule about members blocking other members. If I report her, she will have to unblock me, or one of us will have to leave the group. I would rather not report this. I do not want another conflict with her. I do not want to involve other people in this. What an annoying problem it would pose for our mutual friend who runs that FB group. And really, if this woman wants a break from me, temporary or permanent, I would really like to respect her wishes.
So, what other options do I have?
I could simply continue along, not tell anyone and hope that no problems ever arise in conversations that make it evident to everyone in the group that someone has someone blocked. That’s a good one. i like it! Avoid conflict by acting as if nothing is happening. *grin* The drawback is that I am, in a way, by “hiding” the fact that she has me blocked, undermining the administration of the group. I am not precisely breaking the rules myself, but I am allowing them to be broken and keeping quiet. I would not blame my friends, who run the group, if they felt a tad pissed at me about that.
I could voluntarily leave that group, and any others we are both in, that have a no-blocking rule. If asked I could explain that someone had me blocked and I wanted to exit the group rather than compromise conversations or make a fuss. The drawback is that I would be restricting my interactions in groups I enjoy and with people I enjoy.
What I cannot do is contact her directly. “Blocked” contacts cannot communicate on FB. I *might* be able to contact her through a third party and ask her to remove the block. Or I could ask a third party to intervene and see if we could try to iron this all out on Skype or email. Perhaps we could come to a mutual agreement for how we could avoid annoying and tormenting one another in the future, without causing “blocking” troubles in groups, or difficulties for our mutual friends. ATM this option seems best. It will require *both* of us being able to agree to disagree without feeling the need to flee.
If anyone has related experience to share, or can think of any other options, I would be pleased to hear it!