*Please note that in this article, when I refer to blocking, I also mean simply unfollowing someone or unfriending them. I used these words interchangably, but have since realised that sometimes outright blocking someone isn't necessary.*
We don’t block people enough. That may seem like negative thinking or an extreme action to take, but I genuinely believe that we don’t block people off of our social media pages enough. It’s such a simple process, one click and they’re gone, and yet we don’t treat it like the accessible option that it is.
Instead, we subject ourselves to unnecessary misery and discomfort through consistently viewing the individual on our pages. We could just unfollow them, that’s true, but that doesn’t hold the same significance as blocking someone. It also means you may still be confronted by them through other people reacting or sharing their posts. But blocking someone is definite; it is marking a clear line for yourself, and it is actually a form of self-care.
Forget cucumber face masks, bubble baths, or long walks with a podcast; today’s form of self-care is a social media clean up!
Blocking people is made out to be this dramatic action. A final straw, a ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ move or so. It’s viewed as an admission of weakness; you blocked someone because you cannot handle it or couldn’t control yourself. It’s an embarrassing fact to admit, and I’m not standing for that.
I want us to reach a point where we freely admit that we’ve blocked someone, or even multiple people. Where it is far from a weakness, but rather a strength, to recognise your limits and put them into action. By blocking someone, you create a physical boundary; you are crafting your social feed to meet your requirements. What could be stronger than that?
By blocking an account, or in actuality a person, you are drawing a line in the sand for yourself and others. You’re ensuring that you have the tools for a good day, every single day. Because you will see the content you choose to see, and you will not submit yourself to anything that makes you feel bad. It’s more than the initial blocking even, as it is what this represents. It demonstrates you are putting yourself and your needs first; it highlights that you choose to care for yourself and recognise your limits.
There’s this weird little loophole to the stigma of blocking someone, and that loophole is exes. We’re more accustomed to someone blocking an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s usually for one of three reasons:
1. To make sure they don’t give in and message them.
2. To stop receiving messages from them.
3. To move on and not fixate on whether they are.
These are extremely valid reasons, and as long as you’ve worked through everything rather than using this as a quick out, you definitely should do so. But I don’t think that this is the only valid reason to block someone.
Have you ever broken up with a friend? If so, I think you’ll agree that it can be just as painful as a romantic break up, maybe even more. There is a betrayal that only comes from friendship, perhaps because we’re more prepared for romantic turbulence and still hold the unrealistic notion that all friends are forever.
Losing a friend is painful, and it’s okay to need space from them afterwards. Ex-friends can cause us sadness and discomfort when we’re reminded of them, so we might need to remove their posts from our feed. There can be people you’re not even friends with, and they might make you feel insecure and ruin your day.
You may have never even met them. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how seeing their posts make you feel. What matters is that a simple solution lies in your control, and there is no stigma to using it.
The first person I blocked was someone I never talk to, but seeing her brought up a difficult time for me and plunged me into self-doubt. I would find myself checking her profile almost as a form of self-sabotage. Seeing her posts was enough to ruin my day, and so I finally decided to block her. But I found that I still kept seeing her face through other people, in their Instagram stories or tagged in their Facebook posts. So I blocked those people as well, and I felt awful doing so.
But it was such a relief. I finally felt free of everything that had happened; I felt lighter. There was guilt in blocking them when they had done nothing to hurt me intentionally, but there was also the knowledge that I needed this. Months later, a friend asked if I had seen one of their posts, and I admitted that I had blocked them all and explained why. I expected the friend to laugh at me, to judge me for such dramatic actions. But instead, she told me that she wished she could block people and often felt this temptation.
“So why don’t you?”
If something is writing hateful messages to you, then you should block them. You do not have to listen to their criticisms or opinions. They are not entitled to a response from you, or even a view. You have the right to remove these from your space, and you really should. Abusive messages can affect us far more than we realise, so it’s in your best interest to entirely block them. It's easy to miss the signs of toxic people until they're right in your face. But it's never too late to get rid of toxic friends safely and quickly.
You should choose who views your profile as well as whose profile you view. You are entitled to create boundaries, whether that is with family, colleagues or friends. You should determine what boundaries you require to feel good about yourself and function best.
Whether it’s a breakup with a partner or a friend. An unfulfilled crush or someone you experienced something difficult with. Taking space is within your right and is often the healthiest thing you can do. Bottling up your emotions is a dangerous game and can cause the hurt to bleed into other areas of your life, or affect how you interact with certain people. Give yourself the space to heal without the interference of certain people, and maybe one day you’ll unblock them, or perhaps you won’t.
You don’t need to have a personal connection with the person you block. Maybe you’ve never met them; perhaps it’s what they symbolise to you; it doesn’t matter. There is even less reason to feel guilty about blocking someone you don’t know. Even if you do know them, and they have no harmful intentions towards you, the sight of them could be making you feel insecure. Maybe their life, their relationship, their body or something else is making you feel worse about yourself, so simply remove them from your feed so you can focus on feeling good about yourself.
I’ve struggled a lot with my eating disorder in the past, and my relationship with food will always be strained. I blocked someone recently because the way they interacted with their body and the things they would say about food or their body brought me back to that time. I like filling my feed with people openly discussing their mental health struggles, but this was different, as they clearly didn’t see any issues in the fatphobic comments they would make or in how thin they had become. Seeing their posts welcomed in those dark voices again, and so I removed them. Sometimes what someone represents is enough to block them.
I don’t want hate speech on my social media platforms, and I won’t allow it. So if someone is being racist, sexist, fatphobic or any other form of negativity, I will block them. As I don’t want to see it, and I don’t want to play a role in allowing it. I don’t need to be surrounded by people complaining and not recognising how well we have it, so I won’t. Life is hard enough, so we should make our social media a safe place for all.
You do not owe anyone a presence on your social media. Blocking someone is an action within your power, a statement that you can make, or a choice you can make in favour of your mental health and wellbeing.
Social media affects us negatively in so many ways, and one of the manners in which we can counteract this is through refining our feeds to be a place of comfort, joy and friendship. You can choose to follow accounts and people that suit your values, that make you feel better about who you are, that feed you to grow. It isn’t petty to block someone; it’s wise, as you’re recognising what you need and carrying that out.
Are you looking for a challenge? Block one person this month, someone who does not reflect your growth and journey, who pulls you down. If you can’t think of anyone, that’s great! But if the time ever comes, know that blocking is a reasonable action to take and not just reserved for romantic breakups.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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