Al Kags

Social Media & Personal Relationships


I discovered today that a close friend of mine removed me off of their twitter and facebook accounts – essentially blocked me. After the initial surprise, I wondered what that meant – does it mean we are no longer friends? Should how I relate with the person change? Should I trust them less? Should I reciprocate?

I don’t think there is a ready established protocol for how to respond to such social media driven stimuli – or at least I don’t know of it. But what was inescapable to me is the gravity of it – as a statement of my relationship with the person.

As the world is still reeling from the power of social media to effect social and political change at a global level, I have a personal epiphany about social media re: personal relationships and their particular impact on interpersonal interfaces.

As I reflect, I remember a different situation recently, where a friend and his girlfriend split up and in a rage, she blocked him off Facebook. Even after reconciliation process started, when he found out about her having blocked him, that dealt the final blow to their relationship.

I don’t know yet how to think of it – how to intellectually organise my thoughts around the question of how social social media is… I’m interacting with ideas around it in my mind.

3 thoughts on “Social Media & Personal Relationships”

  1. It's a tricky one. I have both blocked and been blocked by friends. There are several levels to it and this probably warrants a post of its own.

    But two things. On Twitter, you can either unfollow or block a person. When you unfollow, the person is no longer on your timeline. When you block, they don't have access to you either. Depending on what your friend did, it either means that they don't want you to see their updates, or they don't want you to see theirs.

    I've realised that for many people, social media is a game. They use the anonymity and freedom to vent and say stuff they wouldn't ordinarily say. Sometimes, they adopt a persona that is in conflict with their 'real' self. I read an article that says social media makes us schitzophrenic, and it's hard to do that with people who know what you're really like.

    Another suggestion is that most people are different online and offline. You could like someone's real world personality and not like how they carry themselves online, and vice versa. So for most people, the two sets of friends are not related.

    In the girlfriend case, I have blocked exes on Facebook not as a gesture of childish rage, but simply because it hurt too much to look at their walls and see that their lives were going on while my heart was breaking.

    If this person is very close to you, just ask them why they blocked you. If they don't matter too much, let it go. You can't help feeling rejected, but may be it's not you, it's them.

  2. Oh, it's also possible that they deleted or deactivated their accounts, inadvertently blocking everyone in the process. That happens sometimes. You won't know unless you ask.

  3. This is interesting. Normally I try to keep track of my number of fb friends. I usually weed out those of my friends that I am convinced that our friendship is not being improved by fb. They still remain my friends but in my mind I group them as analogue friends.

    Now if you block me on the other hand, I can't help feeling like you owe me some sort of apology or at least an explanation. These explanations are really hard to come up with. I once bumped into a friend who had 'unfriended' me on fb. I asked him about it and he really tried to explain, sadly for him the best he could come up with was "oh, my comp got a virus and wiped out all my friends!". I later 'friend requested' him, he accepted then I unfriended him. I got some perverse thrill from doing that. Lol!

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