Living in a technologically advanced society like ours gives us almost complete control over who we allow in our lives. Regardless of platform or gadget, there’s always a built-in feature for users to block unwanted interactions with specific people.
Originally, the block button was a way for people to shield themselves from trolls and cyberbullying. However, as we’ve migrated to spending more time online, blocking people has become a go-to solution in avoiding even the slightest disagreement.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for advocating for your mental health and setting boundaries with people who cause harm. Trolls who feed on cyberbullying and harassment are very real and should not be tolerated. But… if you’re blocking someone because you’re the one who disagrees with them, you might be doing your mental health more harm than good.
Here are four examples of when to think twice before blocking someone
1. There’s No Block Button in Real Life
What do you do when you disagree with someone in real life? Do you stomp your foot, push out your arm while yelling, “talk to the hand”, before running off in the opposite direction? Hopefully, the answer is no — unless you’re under the age of ten.
In real life, if you feel threatened and/or are being harassed you can get a restraining order. It’s the closest you can get to effectively blocking someone from your life. Getting one over a disagreement or because someone annoys you would be seen as a rash and potentially volatile decision.
Next time you reach for the block button, ask what you’d do if the situation was playing out in real life. Would you get a restraining order against this person?
2. Feeds Your Fear of Conflict
One thing that does pertain to both on, and offline, is our aversion to confrontation.
As a female, society has always told me not to “fan the fire” and “don’t make waves” when it comes to facing conflict. I was taught to keep my head down, stay quiet, and to ignore unwanted comments and advances. The problem with this strategy is instead of addressing the issue, it passes the problem onto someone else to deal with.
As a professional massage therapist, if I were to ignore all the men who decided to expose themselves to me during a session, what do you think would have happened? I can guarantee you, ignoring it wouldn’t stop them from exposing themselves again in the future.
If anything, my ignoring the problem would increase the odds of them repeating their actions — to me or another unassuming female professional. Calling the guys out on their unsolicited predatory behavior makes them think twice before pulling a similar stunt — at least in my personal experience.
Conflict is uncomfortable and we have a tendency to avoid things that make us uncomfortable the same way we avoid feeling our feelings. Facing conflict means willingly feeling uncomfortable for the sake of finding solutions.
In other words, pretending bad things don’t happen, doesn’t stop bad things from happening. Nothing gets fixed when everyone thinks everything is someone else’s problem.
3. Creates Confirmation Bias
Right now, in my opinion, confirmation bias has infected America and is largely responsible for the immense gap between our polarized opinions. According to the American Psychological Association,
Confirmation Bias is the tendency to look for information that supports, rather than rejects, one’s preconceptions, typically by interpreting evidence to confirm existing beliefs while rejecting or ignoring any conflicting data
It’s exactly what happens when you surround yourself with people who always agree with you. If you believe you have all the answers and are always right, I have news for you — You don’t and you’re not.
There’s so much we learn when we talk through disagreements — both about ourselves and the other person. When you block someone because their opinions are different than yours, you’re turning down an opportunity to grow. We’ve all lived unique lives which means we all have different views. Listening to those views is what helps us evolve.
Where’s the harm in considering other options? Sometimes, there’s more than one right answer. Sometimes, there’s no wrong answer at all.
4. Humble Yourself, Everyone’s at a Different Point on Their Path
Personal development is a journey and we all gotta start from somewhere. Yes, some have farther to go than others, but none of us have the right to judge where anyone else is along the way.
You might become triggered or annoyed by a post you see from someone. Your instinct may be to scoff at their lack of understanding, ignorance, or whatever else you want to call it. But what you’re feeling is superiority. Don’t forget, you were once operating at that level too at one point. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know now.
Ridiculing or blocking someone doesn’t help them learn, it doesn’t change their mind, and it makes you a jerk.
Blocking someone because of where they are in their journey doesn’t help them grow and only aids in your superiority complex — which defeats the point of personal development, doesn’t it?
Evaluating Why You’re Blocking Them
We’re undergoing some massive changes. Politics, a pandemic, and a plethora of civil rights issues continue to divide our social media feeds into an Us versus Them mentality — which, neither party ever really wins. Blocking the opposing party doesn’t make them vanish from reality, it just makes you blind to conflicting beliefs.
Consider investigating your motives the next time you reach for the block button. Is the person harassing you or are they disagreeing with you? Are you being threatened or is your ego threatened?
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