Blocked, defriended, unfollowed…

Flippancy is my middle name so I’ll begin with a photo my son sent me:

IMG_0517

This funny pic got me thinking about blocking and being blocked. I thought about a recent experience on Twitter, where someone I follow – a strong, intelligent, articulate woman who happens to be a feminist – was being trolled. She blocked the perpetrator but others – anonymous or using fake gravatars – popped up and joined in the trashing of this woman…not just her views, but her appearance, her sexuality. This led me to think about rudeness, ugly rudeness. My grandmother used to say: “Manners cost nothing” and called people “ill-mannered” but that phrase doesn’t really cover the viciousness of an online troll. A troll used to be a hairy monster who lived under the billy-goats’ bridge. Now it’s a not-so-hairy monster who lives on the internet…

Image from: oakthorpesc. files

Image from:
oakthorpesc. files

This woman’s trolling reminded me of when Poppet was bullied in Year 9. She was fourteen and had just dumped (her first) boyfriend. It was amicable, they were still friends, yet this didn’t stop some of his friends from posting revolting things on Facebook. There were anonymous bullies on Formspring (a site active two years ago), but somehow the Facebook ones were worse because they had names and therefore profiles…faces. They were real. Poppet didn’t tell me about this bullying at first. Like many teenagers, she internalised it, blamed herself. After all, she’d dumped a very popular boy, a boy with loyal, vocal friends. I can’t repeat what was said – it’s too graphic to type here, but think of one of the worse things you could say to a young girl, think sexual, and you’ll be close to the truth.

I found out accidentally, glancing over her shoulder one day, eyes zeroing in on her screen, so appalled I wanted to seek out this boy and tell him off; ring the school; ring the police; ring his mother.

But world weary Poppet, just fourteen and already apprised of the online world and its dark corners, said: “Don’t! It will get worse.”

“What’s worse than that?” I shrieked.

She blocked him – this ill-mannered but quite normal boy. Interestingly, he’s apologised to Poppet recently. Two years older, now at the same school and lately acquiring some manners, he told her he was sorry that he “…said some stuff. I was a total d**k.”

But I’m not sure if an apology, even a sincere one, can really appease the victim (or her mother). An apology shows character – not many people can apologise, least of all a teenage boy – but an apology can’t negate the immediate and ongoing effect of those brutal words on a fourteen year old girl (and her mother).

Before this post becomes not nearly flippant enough too grim,  I’ll mention my own experience on Facebook. I freely admit I’m eccentric weird with social media. I pick and choose. I don’t have Facebook – nothing against it, I just find I must limit social media, as it is a heady drug that keeps me from the offline world, the real world. But I did once have a Facebook account, which I opened on the advice of EVERYONE. And in the three hours my account was alive, I’d acquired quite a few ‘friends’. People popped out of the woodwork from all over the place and my head spun with giddiness. I was so popular! But I was suddenly privy to an array of family snaps from people I barely knew; news and status updates from relative strangers filled my feed. This I could deal with, but then suddenly I gazed with stunned horror at my own face – tagged in a photo that week when out to lunch – grinning with Cheshire Cat brilliance (that photo would not have survived my delete button!)

Traumatised reflecting quietly on my new public life, I closed said account and spent the next twenty four hours fielding offended ex-friends and contacts, apologising profusely to them. They’d all thought I’d blocked and defriended them…as if? A sense of the ridiculous is mandatory with social media, I feel. 🙂

According to my in-house online expert, Poppet, Facebook is practically obsolete, at least for teenagers: People only use it for invites and arrangements now, no one posts statuses anymore… *insert eye-roll*…it’s all Instagram and Snapchat! 

The online world is a diverting place. Poppet sent me this:

Image credit: Redditpics.

Image credit: Redditpics.

What are your own experiences with being blocked, defriended or unfollowed? Or is your world full of ‘sweetness and light’? 🙂

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

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56 thoughts on “Blocked, defriended, unfollowed…

  1. I had a bad experience two years ago in May. I used to write fan fiction until some bitch attacked me and posted nasty, negative and hurtful things about me and my stories. Maybe somehow in her twisted mind, she thought what I was writing was true. She cyber stalked me and created an account on fan pop just to bully and harass me. Even worse, she posted lies about me on other blogs and pages. I left fan pop and closed my accounts on weebly and live journal because of her. I blocked her on facebook. I deleted my blog she was following and created another one. I stopped writing fan fiction.

  2. I only use my Facebook for animal rights issues. This means I connect with people from all over the world who care for animals. By keeping this focus I do not see photos of babies and other people’s happy family pics 🙂
    I welcome all cute kitty pics.

  3. I recently noticed at a friend of Facebook unliked my blog’s page, it has happened before, it is hard not to take it personally, I wish I knew how many friends I had before it happened so I could see if they unfriended me as well. How ever did people get by before the internet I wonder

    • I can’t imagine anyone ‘unliking’ your blog page – oh why are people so mean? It’s never really personal though, it’s just about them, but unless you have a really robust self-esteem, you can be hurt.
      I have a feeling people got on very well before the internet actually…but imagine looking things up manually in encyclopedias! 😀

      • Blog page ‘unlikes’ get to me too Rhianna, and I don’t know why because if they are so apathetic about my work that they’re unliking, they’re obviously not engaged/reading anyway so what’s the point in having them around as just an arbitrary number? Yet still it hurts my ego!

  4. I went off Facebook years ago when I realised how small it made the world. You lose the intimacy with your friends – there are fewer actual discussions on life happenings because you see it all on Facebook! And then you are somewhat forced (to avoid awkwardness) connect with people you purposely ditched years ago… Now I only have a Facebook page for my blog but even that’s odd because people don’t understand I don’t see their posts, they only see mine! I then become the only one out of their 386 “friends” that don’t wish them Happy Birthday on their page…

    Great post Lee-Anne and I am so glad all the craziness is over for Poppet. Jeez boys can be such babies when it comes to heartbreak – and it sounds like she made the right decision. Smart girl, Mum.

    • Thanks, Mama’s Vida! Your experiences with Facebook make me very glad I closed mine down. I wouldn’t be up to navigating those subtle dynamics (I’m a bit slow online) 🙂

    • Everyone blocking everyone…haha, it sounds a bit farcical, but at least consistent! LOL. I really think one needs a good sense of humour when online. Fortunately I, myself, personally have a very flippant nature. 🙂

  5. Some of the experiences I read on both your post and in the comment box are just dreadful.
    I take the duck approach to bullies and trolls: just let them run off my feathers like water. Having some nasty experiences as a child and teen must have toughened my skin…

  6. I like your duck approach, Vic. Nasty experiences do inure one against future hurt but it’s awful that it is even necessary to grow a tough hide (or feathers) 🙂

  7. I haven’t had too much personal experience with it all. I’m not the most outgoing social media personality but having said that, you are the first blogger I’ve heard that wasn’t on Facebook 🙂 I’m glad you shared what your daughter told you about the ‘cool’ and current social media hotspots of instagram and snap chat. I can feel like I’m up with it now, even though I’ve never heard of Snap Chat!!

  8. Hearing what happened to your daughter really makes me grateful that social media wasn’t around when I was at high school. Fortunately I haven’t had a lot of exposure the negative side of social media. There have been the odd people who have ‘defended’ my blog page, but I try not to take it too seriously! I also have a personal FB page, and I find it quite hilarious when people who would not have anything to do with me, or bullied me in high school now want to be my ‘friend’.

    • Yes, I’ve heard of that aspect of FB – where people who weren’t nice at school reappear, all ingratiating… Perhaps they’ve had epiphanies and want to make amends (or just create more followers)… Either way it’s all a bit cringing 🙂

  9. I don’t use FB all that much, not my personal one anyway. I always feel guilty for not posting more photos of the girls,especially for those that live away. It does amuse me though in an eye roll kind of way, when people use facebook to thank someone for x years of marriage, or for flowers or choccies etc, or ‘have a go’ at others anonymously and publicly. Why not send a private message and be done with it! I did have a not happy camper, and he had a go at me for unfollowing on Twitter. I had no idea I was that important that he missed my follow. Poor guy…

  10. unfortunately not all girls are as strong as your daughter and that kind of behaviour reduces them to all kinds of problems – depression, suicide, it’s really terrible. Good on the boy for apologizing, but I think it’s just one reason kids shouldn’t be allowed on social media sites like FB until they’re old enough to use it properly. In saying that, I’ve seen adults use FB in terrible ways, too. It’s the “braveness” of the hiding behind a computer screen! The same as why everyone sends texts instead of calling now. I worry about what it will be like once my 5 year old is a teen! -Aroha (for #teamIBOT)

    • Agree, it’s impossible to imagine what it will be like when your 5 year old is a teenager! Hopefully, education and internet regulation will be in place to prevent such bullying. 🙂

  11. I’m glad to hear Poppet’s first boyfriend finally apologised. A giant leap for mankind…..
    Facebook can be useful to keep up with friends and relatives far away, but it’s only as good as the quality of its interactions. Thought provoking post. 🙂

  12. Thanks Susan…yes, Mankind never ceases to amaze, LOL! Facebook is after all a valuable tool to keep in touch with interstate and overseas friends/relatives. As you say, it’s about the quality of users, not the medium itself. 🙂

  13. That must have been the most horrible, gut wrenching feeling, knowing that people were writing obscene things about your daughter. I’m so sorry both she and you had to go through that. I got off Facebook about two and a half years ago because it was making me unhappy every time I opened it up and I decided I wanted to keep my friendships as real as possible. It was confronting to realise as the months went by how many people weren’t interesting in keeping in contact with me because I didn’t ‘exist’ on Facebook any more, but at least it helped me to know which friends really could bother to keep in contact with me using good old email and text messages. Thanks for sharing your experiences – I really enjoyed this post.

  14. Thank you, Lizzy. Your Facebook experiences make me realise how nice ‘real’ cyber interactions are – texts, emails and blog comments from lovely, interesting people. 🙂

  15. There are so many horrible, horrible stories out there on this subject. It makes me so sad. Although I enjoy Facebook as it allows me to share my writing, that really is the only reason I’m there. I like the connection with like minded people and reading other blogs etc. But when I really think about it I wish Facebook and social media didn’t exist. As someone wrote above, it makes the world so small and we lose intimacy. So much over sharing leads to meaningless interaction. But it is the world my children are growing up with. I really wish they could grow up like we did. When you had to pick up the phone or organise a sleepover or play to catch up. Where the world was exciting and new, not ‘I’ve seen it all before’ as it is now.
    I’m also interested to know what the latest thing is if it’s not Facebook as your daughter says. Where are they hanging out now online?

    • Hi Jodi, I think Facebook is still the go-to for social interaction – arrangements, invitations etc among teens, but it’s less ‘cool’ (that dreaded and misused word!) nowadays and Instagram, with its focus on photos (which unfortunately, is what’s it’s all about), has taken over a lot for this age group. Snap Chat is just pics that vanish in a few seconds – selfies and the general “look at me!” focus. 🙂

  16. I went on Facebook years ago, and was tagged in an awful pic and promptly quit it, so I completely understand you’re thinking!
    I’m back on it again now and thankfully those photos never resurfaced.
    It’s a weird little world on there. Some days I love it and others it all feels a bit too much

  17. I have a pretty long list of people on my block list both on Facebook and Twitter. I just got to a point where I didn’t want to have to deal with the bullshit. My line becomes..if seeing that person popping up in my newsfeed (usually via a mutual friend) makes me get a little ragey then it’s time to get out the block button. It’s my feed and it shouldn’t be filled with people who piss me off.

  18. My Miss almost-11 is just starting to test the social media waters, some would argue prematurely but I’d say it’s the world we live in now and I’d rather supervise her social media presence than have her do it behind my back. I’m terrified about navigating the teenage years tho, teenage girls (and by the sounds of your daughter’s experience teenage boys too) can be so nasty!

    • Yes, Emma, bans and taboos never really work as it seems to drive them underground – a bit like alcohol and bootlegging!
      Good luck with Miss almost-11 – you are right, I think communication and supervision are they key to navigating these trying times. 🙂

  19. I use Twitter more for my blogs, but Facebook personally. Although… I do have a FB page for the local community and I’m ridiculously committed to that for some reason.

    I actually did a blog post on Monday I thought might have caused some people to be angry with me or rude etc… but felt like it was something I needed to say / confess to. Happily people have (understandably) disagreed but been polite about it. Which I’ve appreciated.

    Think I went off-topic then!

    Oops.
    Deb

    • You sound like a real social media multi-tasking expert, Deb!
      I am sure you haven’t offended anyone – it’s good to be controversial and get people out of their comfort zones and thinking. 🙂

  20. Lee-Anne I’ve recently been blocked by my BFF of 4 years, over something my husband said. It was blown out of proportion but really made me see her true colours. We can’t get on with everyone, still hurts a bit, but not like it used to. I lose FB blog followers all the time, but hey what can I do right?

  21. I haven’t had any personal difficulties online but as a child & adolescent psychologist, I have heard my fair share of horror stories. Kinda along the lines of what Poppet must have heard. Formspring is equally dangerous because despite the anonymity, they ask/say pretty hurtful things and usually, the kids know it’s someone known to them. FB is still evil as is snapchat. It’s sad the number of kids who have been bullied online who then go on to develop mental health problems…and as you said, even a sincere apology does not erase the pain and the hurt that the person went through at the time. What scares me more is the pack mentality with this…one kid will post something nasty and others seem to follow. Hate it!

  22. Absolutely. You must see and hear some horrible stuff 😦 The pack mentality is cruel to witness in the playground and classroom, as well in the chat rooms… We must as parents and educators, try to develop programs to keep abreast with social media, to somehow counter its damaging effects. It’s not really enough to assume kids will cope. 🙂

  23. LOL @ the dog blocking the cat.. Bwahahahahaahaha!! Hilarious!!… lol

    I’ve not had many experiences with blocking or un-friending business, and the rare occasions I have I just figured they themselves were going through something personally and that they needed some space.

    If I KNOW I have done something to cause distress or hurt, then I will try to take responsibility for that and apologise. In saying that I don’t think I have any friends on my Facebook page that would resort to deleting me or blocking me for such reasons.

    BUT…

    I myself have deactivated my own Facebook page when I just want some time out.

    I have found myself to be AMAZED (and disgusted) by some of the behaviour of my own friends and family who I thought I knew quite well. Some people who are racist and I had no idea, others who advocate people dying if they don’t have money to pay for healthcare insurance (in not so nice ways) I even saw someone state that the death of our Prime Minister’s father was not newsworthy and she was an attention seeking S%#T. It goes without saying that that person is no longer someone I am friends with on the platform.

    I wrote an editorial for our local newspaper that called people to be accountable for their online behaviour. With it, I shared the following quote:

    ‘Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.’
    Dalai Lama

    I’m a little picky with who I have linked to my social media platforms now, Twitter, I don’t care so much. My children are still 7 and 9 and they wont be accessing social media platforms until they in their teens. More that likely 16. We will see how things go. I figure they have enough stuff to worry about dealing with school and the peer pressures and worries associated with that.

    Great post, Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Miss Lou
    xx

    • LOL! Many would agree with you (especially moi!) though I suppose it does have its uses in keeping in touch with friends interstate or overseas…
      But then I really did LOVE a postcard, and no one ever sends them anymore! 🙂

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