Blocking. We’ve all done it, and we’ve all had it done to us. We block unwanted phone calls and texts and we block certain people from seeing our social media pages.
I want to state right away that I think internet blocking can be beneficial and definitely has its place. Nobody wants to be harassed online and everybody has the right to pick and choose the people they allow to access their profiles. But I’m not writing today to discuss the blocking of your ex-boyfriend’s Facebook or the muting of twitter trolls.
Instead, I want to talk today about the “real-life blocking” I see happening more than ever in today’s world.
In the past year’s political climate, I found myself drifting in a different direction than many of my peers. As a gay woman in a long-term relationship with another female, I think it goes without saying that I found myself in circles of friends and peers that were heavily liberal. After the election, though, I found myself put in a difficult position. While so many of the people I knew ran – up in arms – to one extreme of the political spectrum or the other, I found myself drifting more to the center.
It is here, from the center of things trying to bridge divides between both sides, that I began noticing some pretty alarming behaviors. What I now call “real-life blocking” is one of the most concerning to me.
Today, real-life blocking is not pointing a remote at a person and turning them into a silent blur of pixels. This isn’t an episode of Black Mirror (yet). Instead, real-life blocking is the action of cutting someone out of your life swiftly and without explanation. You block them online, you stop answering their calls, and you simply pretend they no longer exist.
In the dating world, people call this ghosting. This practice is immature and disrespectful enough when done to a hookup you no longer want to see. It’s another thing entirely, though, when done to your loved ones.
I can’t believe I have seen this happen enough to even be writing about it, but I have. Cutting siblings, parents, grandparents, and friends out of one’s life because of a difference in opinion has become far more common that I am comfortable with. And this spills out way beyond the internet.
I’ve seen people stop answering their grandparents’ calls because they know they voted a particular way. I know people who wouldn’t even go home for the holidays because of a fight over political differences. I have seen best friends stop speaking to each other just because one found out the other watched a certain political YouTube channel she didn’t like. I wish I was kidding.
People do not live forever. When your grandparent’s pass away, are they really defined more by the fact that they voted for Trump than by all the wonderful memories you have with them?
As a gay woman from a (loving, intelligent, compassionate, and funny) family of mostly Republicans, I can tell you with certainty that not every person on the other side is bigoted or hateful. And trust me, you want as many people in your corner as possible, regardless of political affiliation, when it’s time to fight against real hate.
Real-life blocking people leaves no room for conversation, so it also leaves no room for understanding, compromising, or growing. We cannot move forward by retreating to our opposite sides of the spectrum and either screaming at the opposition or ignoring them. Neither approach works to help your cause.