Like most mornings, I warmed up to work today with a quick scroll through Twitter. IndigenousX was an interesting feed (@arabella_ya is on fire! this week), so I had a quick scroll through her tweets from this morning and yesterday. Her tweets led me down another path, and led me to click on a tweet from yet another person (to get context of what was potentially an interesting and informative conversation), and I was very surprised to find I’m blocked from seeing a particular person’s tweets. Upon further investigation I realise this person has blocked not just my personal account, but four other accounts I publicly run.
To say I’m surprised is an understatement. I’ve followed this person in the past, though I doubt I’ve ever actually @replied them myself. Their tweets come up in my feed regularly through mutual interests and mutual follow/ers (which is why I didn’t realise I’d been blocked until this morning). This person is a leader, and I see myself more as a follower, so it’s not unnormal for me to just follow and not engage. (I’m very much a reader of interesting tweeps, I honestly never notice or care if they follow back).
But rather than focus on the “blocking” – it’s Twitter after all, not an “IRL” relationship – I don’t know this person, so I shouldn’t care what s/he does. It’s really none of my business what is going on in their minds – it does make me wonder how people who only know the digital me actually perceive the kind of person I am –
- Am I seen to be sitting too much on a particular political divide? In real life I am fairly flexible about my politics (left on some things, right on others).
- Am I seen to be in-allegiance with particular factions or online friendships that may be distasteful to this person? In real life I follow and engage in all kinds of online (and real life) relationships who on the surface are incompatible?
The blocking really does demonstrate that you can’t control how people think of you. I honestly didn’t think I ran accounts that were of the potentially polarising, staunch, or trolling type. I’ll grant you my accounts are boring enough to unfollow, but distasteful enough to block?
One day I may meet this person (the world IS that small), and I won’t raise this in discussion. I can’t let it be important enough to matter. Who knows, they may have blocked for a reason that has nothing to do with me. It could be a personal safety issue. Having a real digital presence (ie. not an anon or alias) requires that we give something of ourselves to the unknown. In order to do that we have all developed individual coping strategies that allow us to be here in safety. I can’t judge this person on how they cope and how they do their business, so will do my best to make no meaning from this beyond reflection.
It’s all very intriguing, and food for our
thoughts. We continue onwards …
* I did block someone (circa 2009) in the early days by mistake because I didn’t understand the difference between unfollow and block.
Note: I’m deliberately trying to not identify the particular tweep in question because this post is not about them, but a personal reflection on my experience. I’m interested in questions about how we make meaning and understanding the world and our relationships within in it. Please don’t ask me who it is because it’s not relevant. I have to respect people’s choices to run their accounts how they choose to (trolls excepted).
Image: Random pic of Brisbane from Mt Cootha. It was a very hot, humid and hazy day.