Recently I’ve begun to suspect that I’ve been rejected.

Someone may have blocked me on Facebook. And not just one someone, but maybe as many as five someones. Maybe even more. And it’s eating my lunch. But my real problem is not that five people may have blocked me on Facebook. I’m irritated because I’m bugged by being blocked on Facebook. You follow? No? I’ll draw a diagram. Here.

I mean, really.

Why would I care? Someone blocked me on Facebook. Big deal. This shouldn’t be a problem for me, because it isn’t a problem.

First of all, if out of 450 “friends,” five have blocked me, that’s a pretty decent rate of acceptance versus rejection. Second of all, and more importantly, I don’t interact with the suspected blockers in real life. I expect to see a couple of them at assorted reunions, probably in the very distant future. The others I may never see, ever, again.

Some of these blockages are even mutual. I can think of at least one alleged blocker whose posts I’ve had hidden for a year. It wasn’t personal; I just didn’t want to see the graphic updates about the contents of her child’s diapers. Evidently she was equally unimpressed by all my clever status updates and scintillating blog posts. And we aren’t actually friends in real life. We never were. If you look at it rationally, our Facebook break-up is a win-win. But in the self-centered, personal propaganda world of Facebook, where everyone is your “friend” and  people are unable to “dislike” your photos, updates or relationships, being blocked comes as somewhat of a shock.

Why should that be? Most of us deal with rejection in the real world all the time. We interview for, but don’t get jobs. We don’t get complimented when we think we deserve it. We say hello to people on the street and they don’t say hello back. People give us the finger in traffic. And although these daily rejections are awkward at best and painful at worst, we deal with them.

I’m 33. Like most people my age, I’ve watched friendships crumble, relationships fall apart, been passed over for promotions. As a writer, I’ve gotten good at being rejected by magazines and journals. When I worked as a journalist, I got used to people being furious at or dismissive of me. But on Facebook rejection brings me back to middle school.

“They don’t like you,”  says the little voice in my brain, the one I heard all the time when I was 12 years old. “They don’t like you and they don’t ‘like’ you.”

This voice is not my friend. It used to hear classmates laughing a few tables over in the cafeteria and convince me that those kids were laughing at me.

“I thought you were dead,” I say to the voice. “I thought I left your mangled corpse on the streets of Spain in 1999.”

“You’re talking to yourself,” says the voice. “No wonder people don’t like you. Or ‘like’ you.”

And the cycle begins anew.

So really, what’s the deal with Facebook and rejection? My only guess is that our Facebook profiles are such manicured, Photoshopped versions of who we are. We post the most attractive or amusing photos of ourselves as profile shots, or else we post pictures of the things we want to show off: our kids, our wedding photos, our pets, our flower gardens, our priceless collections of stamps or brass military buttons. Our statuses are little flags we wave for attention. Our interests are carefully edited. And when someone rejects all that, when they block you, that can seem like a rejection of your highest self.

Except it’s not. It’s a rejection of your own personal propaganda. And if that bothers you, you probably need to get over yourself. I know I do.

10 thoughts on “Blocked.

  1. I got in “big trouble” for un-friending someone on FB recently. Clearly this is social anxiety ramped up to a whole new degree which, when one thinks about it, makes sense because our personae in social media are designed to appeal.

    Know this, though: I adore you in person, on FB, on your blog, in your writing…

  2. My sixteen year old cousin’s remark on being FB blocked: “I aint gon let dem haytas trip me up! cuz I b ridin!”

    B ridin, AJ, b ridin…

  3. I still like you 🙂

    What gets my goat is people who post on FB, “I’m cleaning out my friends list, so if you want to stay my friend here, comment here or send me a message.” And I think, “Really? You think you’re so freaking great that you’re pandering for comments and culling your list. Give me a break. Fine, un-friend me. I don’t care.”

  4. Well thank you, everyone. I’ve been holding onto this post for a while, because I didn’t want it to come across as “Poor Me. Call the waahmbulance.” But I think it’s important to air stuff like this. Hilts says it well in comment number one. Social media has amplified social anxiety in weird ways. If you spend a lot of time on Facebook and someone unfriends you, it can seem like an act of war. It shouldn’t, but it does.
    But it’s all good, because to paraphrase Reuben’s cousin, we b ridin.

  5. Well done AJ. A very entertaning, funny and so true post. It made me remember that one person who I knew 25 years ago, who was a neighbor and babysat my son, who has grown up to be a famous photographer. She didn’t accept my friend request. Now, did she know about my creepy former husband or was it an oversight? I wish I knew — or maybe it’s better I don’t know because it doesn’t matter! But if it doesn’t matter why do I still remember it?

    • Hi Jane! There’s never any closure on a thing like that, is there? And then, with me, if I feel badly that someone deleted me/didn’t accept my request/blocked me, I feel bad about feeling bad. Vicious cycle.

  6. I have only one person blocked me among 180 friends but the problem is she is the only one I loved among all of my friends

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