In life, what do you when you encounter an ass? (Or a bitch, if you prefer.) Someone who has nothing good to say to you, and half the time finds fault with whatever it is you are doing. Somebody that seems to enjoy the fact that they make you uncomfortable, and may even go out of their way to just piss you off. Or at least make no effort to hide their delight when they see you are pissed at something.
Do you follow them around? Do you write down all the bad things they say about you, and tape them up on your wall so people can read them? Do you blame yourself for not being together enough to avoid their actions, and try to find ways to re-invent who you are so that they don’t screw with you anymore?
Or do you take the sane, healthy approach, and just avoid them? If they enter the room, leave. If they call you, hang up. If they attend the same parties, hang out with other people. There just isn’t any benefit to exposing yourself, or other people to whatever their problem with you, or your work is.
And let’s face it, if the last nine encounters with someone have been insulting, hurtful, or any number of other unpleasant things, most of us are not going to stick around when they see the culprit approaching the tenth time, and wait for them to prove they are going to be an ass today. An ass is an ass is an ass.
So tell me then, dear readers, why does that very understandable, self-preserving behavior morph into “censorship”, “cowardice”, and “denial” when it is done online?
I have someone who follows me on Twitter, but never has a single constructive thing to say to me. Instead they belittle my every tweet. I block her. That’s what the button is there for. But I get accused of a lack of self-identity.
It’s even worse with a blog. I moderate the comments that appear here specifically to weed out such people. I don’t do it lightly, but after about the 15th bitchy comment, yeah I will refuse to post their comments anymore. And if I am really displeased, I will in fact go back over old posts and delete their previous comments. I’m avoiding the unpleasant. I’m refusing to engage someone who has proven time and again they add value to neither my blog nor my life. Yet I am accused of being “inauthentic” when I do so. (I won’t even dignify the borderline illiterate notion that this constitutes “censorship”.)
Isn’t the world filled with enough jerks? They are not going to go anywhere. Too often we have no choice but to deal with them. The online world is one of the few places we have at least some power to rid ourselves of such mischief. Why shouldn’t I embrace that chance by punching a few buttons and washing my hands of them? I want to provoke thought, and even discussion. But if people cannot discuss without being arrogant pains in my ass, you can be damned sure I am going to avoid them online as much as I would offline. You should too. Life is too short.
Do you consider it somehow “inauthentic” to block obnoxious people from your online platforms? Does it matter if others don’t seem as annoyed as you are, if you personally are put out by the behavior of someone else? Isn’t that what moderation of your online experience is all about?