Consequences of Blocking on Facebook

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Courtesy of Lauren Huston

BLOCKING

I blogged yesterday about a Facebook blocking situation that happened to me. I wrote about it as an introduction to a closer look at what Facebook blocking really IS and what it DOES. As I discussed yesterday, I discovered what I consider to be problems with Facebook’s blocking feature.

What I want to talk about now is a little more involved. I want to take a look at the consequences of blocking someone on Facebook AND of being blocked.

  • Being kept out of the loop: By blocking someone on Facebook, you can no longer see that person ANYWHERE on the social site. If you have a lot of mutual friends with this person then this can be a real inconvenience because you will no longer be able to see the person’s comments on photos, status updates, posts, etc. This may not matter to you but in certain circumstances, it can be an annoyance. Sometimes it will be obvious to you that the person is involved in a thread of comments (even though you cannot see them) because someone will have addressed the person by name. Other times, however, you will not know that they are “there”. You will miss a good piece of the interactions that your friends have with your blocked contact. This is a consequence that clearly affects both the “blocker” and the “blockee”.
  • Humility: Did you REALLY want to block the person or were you angry and you decided to press the “Block” button before you cleared your head? Going back to someone, apologizing and asking to be friends again is not an easy task. I would imagine that it might be quite humbling. Nevertheless, it is probably a good learning experience.
  • Trust: If you block someone, the person you block will probably have their guard up against you. There will probably be a breakdown in trust that might be difficult to repair. In addition, blocking someone lets your blockee know that you do not trust them. Telling someone that you do not trust them through online behavior is not very productive if you ever think that you might want to reconnect with the person.
  • Decisions: Blocking someone is not to be taken lightly. In most adult situations, I believe that blocking should be taken seriously and not done because of a simple tiff or out of frustration. That said, there are decisions to be made going forward. There are lots of things to think about and certain issues to consider. Our online lives are an extension of how we act in the real world. Our online actions are representations of our true selves. If you think about your Facebook contacts who you know “in real life”, you will probably say that their personality on Facebook more or less mirrors who they truly are. With that in mind, there are choices to be made. Do you want to sever the relationship altogether or do you ever want to work on putting some pieces back together to restore parts of the relationship?
  • Lack of access to and control of photos: When someone blocks you on Facebook, you are able to remove the tags of YOURSELF from your blocker’s images. One very important thing to think about before you do this, though, is that once you remove the tags, you will no longer be able to see the images again. You will still appear in the photos but your identity will not be revealed. Consider whether or not you want to give up access to those photos in which you appear.
  • Blocking is NOT the same thing as hiding and should not be treated the same way: When you hide someone, they simply disappear from your news feed. People do this on occasion if a person’s posts are not of relevance to them, they don’t like the posts or they simply do not want to see the person in their news feed. Blocking is a completely different animal! It is a disconnect that breaks online links.

As usual, while I was thinking about the consequences of blocking, I posted about it on my fan page. I asked:

“I am putting together the finishing touches on a blog post about the consequences of blocking someone on Facebook. I’d love to hear from you before I publish! What do you think some consequences of blocking a contact are?”

One fan, Megan, completely hit the nail on the head with her response:

“Consequences of blocking someone: if you ever resume contact at some point there is a trust issue. Circle of mutual friends may block or defriend you- isolation & escalation. The person you blocked could try to retaliate- you have no idea what they are saying about you, your business or your family to their friends- character defamation. I guess in this day and age anything is possible, so I would say only block someone if on really good grounds..And stay as neutral, friendly, kind and have social intellect so you don’t get blocked or have to block someone.”

These points sum up the consequences of blocking on Facebook wonderfully. Social intellect is critical in today’s world and it happens to be the last aspect of Facebook blocking that I am going to cover in this 3-part series. Megan, your comment is perfect and leads into my final piece on blocking so smoothly!

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