Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blocked: A Tale of Shame

Photo and blog title are both courtesy of Caryn Thexton, who blogs (not nearly as often as we'd like her to) right here.

I remember the day it happened.  I was driving from Texas to Tennessee, and it was my birthday week, normally the most celebratory week of my year.  I checked my Facebook, and I saw the news on a friend's Facebook that the guy formerly known as my BFF was engaged. Engaged? Really?  So I picked up the phone to call him, because even though we had not been talking much because of his new relationship, we had wanted to remain friends. And now he was engaged and all of Facebook knew before I did.  I dialed his number, and that's when I heard it "The person you have called is not accepting calls from this number". So I went back to Facebook and searched his name, and that's when I understood what was happening.  I had been blocked.  Shut out.  Cut off completely. And so I cried.

I was already slightly familiar with the feeling.  After all, my ex-husband had also blocked me on Facebook, although I believe that was to prevent me to see what he was up to during our divorce proceedings.  And I kind of understood that.  Divorce is an unpleasant, tricky thing.  And misunderstandings can easily occur.  It made sense to me, mostly.  But this new blocking?  This was a new level of humiliation. This felt like I couldn't be trusted.  I felt like a punished child.  And a thousand things went through my head.  What was he afraid I was going to do?  Stalk him?  Send him annoying daily messages? I am still not sure, but I was sad for weeks.  I was embarrassed for even longer.  Friends would ask "Hey, did you see that [former BFF] is [insert life event here]?".  And I would have to drop my head in shame and answer that I had no idea what was going on in his life.  I had been friend dumped.  I had been Facebook blocked.

Fast forward a year or so, and I broke up with my boyfriend. After over a year of dating, we decided that we should go our separate ways.  And as with most breakups, we tried to keep things ending on a good note, but there are always hurt feelings and sensitivity.  And within a few weeks, he blocked me, too.  I told myself it was temporary.  He needed some time to get over things.  And maybe that was how it started, but here we are a couple of years later and I am still blocked.  

On an ordinary day, I wouldn't even know that I have been banned on Facebook.  It doesn't enter my thoughts, and it does not affect how I go through my day.  But occasionally, a Facebook friend will post a picture or a status, and then there will be twelve comments by the original poster, seemingly having a conversation with himself.  And then I realize, one of my blockers has commented and being blocked, I am completely unable to see it.  It makes the original photo or status poster look like a total nut, which is mildly amusing to me until I remember 

a.) I am the only person who sees it this way and 
b.) the feeling of rejection that comes with the fact that the whole Facebook community can see something, but I can't.

And maybe it will last forever, or at least until the end of Facebook.  Then we will move on to another form of social networking and I will wait to see if I am blocked there as well.  (Google +, anyone? No? Yeah, me neither.)  But in the meantime, I will live with the shame.  If you need me, I will be keeping my nose in the virtual corner, wearing a scarlet letter on my shirt*, and taking my punishment like a big girl.

* Probably a B for blocked instead of an A

For those of you unfamiliar with the embarrassment that is Facebook blocking, here is what it is: Blocking allows you to prevent most interactions with someone on Facebook. People you block won't be able to find you in searches, view your timeline, or contact you with pokes or personal messages. In addition, they will not be able to see your timeline posts, comments on mutual friends’ timelines, or that you are a member of the same group as them.

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