Out of sight, out of mind


Emma Lam

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 12.09.51 AMBlock: to obstruct (someone or something) by placing obstacles in the way

I don’t think people realize how easy it is for social media to get out of control. Of course, we all get the presentations of online safety and how we shouldn’t do anything that could jeopardize our careers and futures. From MV Expectations to simply hearing the stories about how a few students lives were ruined, these warnings don’t have much effect and most of us tend to treat social media as somewhat of a joke.

Take the MV Expectations presentation, I don’t think many people took it as seriously as the administration would have liked, but there were some key points that I’d like to point out.

For one, social media can be used a weapon, with online bullying and more. Two, can have bigger consequences for the victim and the bully. And perhaps the one that struck the biggest chord in me was that people go power hungry with the anonymity of the internet.

Sadly, that third possibility happened to me. And I know what some of you are thinking, that most people in this day and age aren’t dumb enough to cyberbully, especially in the Bay Area, where most people tend to keep their distances. I took advantage of the fact that I could say whatever I wanted, without saying it in person.

For those of you who know me, I’m a pretty blunt person. I tell it like it is, despite the fact you might like it or hate it in the long run. No sugar coating, and no sunshines and rainbows. ”

So when I finally realized that I actually could be blunt online as well, a whole new gate opened up. But what I didn’t realize was that the internet gave this power to
everyone, not just me. Everyone had the power to say what they wanted without feeling the pressure of saying it in person. So when I started to feel the backlash of the bluntness, I soon discovered a button that could turn that all off. The block button.

I started to go what I call “block crazy.” You called me petty as a joke? Blocked. You told me my idea was crap? Blocked. We had an awkward experience at school? Blocked. I remember this one time where my friend had simply stated that I might be a bit tired, and I actually told her she should mind her own business and health, and blocked her. Or another time where my friend didn’t respond to me for two days, and when she finally did, I rage quit at her, saying things I never would have said to another human being for that matter, and blocked her online.

Of course sometimes blocking people was necessary. I’m not sure why, but junior year seemed to be a time where most of my friends showed either their true colors, or the opposite. The claws came out, from my end and from theirs, and it didn’t turn out pretty.

But for the most part, I blocked the majority of people because of my power hungriness on social media. There were some other factors involved, such as lack of sleep, my extreme sensitivity and the pressure of school as a junior. But overall, it was the fact I could cut off anyone I deemed toxic or unworthy of my friendship. As I said, the anonymity of being online is rather a dangerous thing, with the lack of immediate consequences. I was able to do whatever I wanted. I relished in the thought of it.

I blocked so many people that it eventually became a running joke as to who was going to become my next victim. “Who is Emma going to block next,” or “I’m not going to say anything because you’re going to block me,” became repetitive after a while.  And I went along with it because well, it was honestly one hundred percent true. I blocked so many people for the smallest of things. Luckily, most of them forgave me in the end or sometimes cracked and apologized to me, but it still didn’t change the fact that I went a little nuts.

Looking back at myself now, I can’t help but cringe internally or at least slam my head against the wall a few times. As a senior, I wish I could go back in time and smack my junior year self for being petty and immature and tell myself to get some better communication skills. If only I had talked to some of these people in person or at least made the effort to understand where they were coming from. Because not only did blocking people turn me into a running joke, but it also lost me a lot of really good friends who didn’t want to have to put up with this nonsense any longer.

Now I’m not going to tell you something like, “you need to stop blocking people,” or “that’s simply wrong,” because there are toxic human beings out there that sometimes requires that button. But I am going to say that maybe the next time before blocking someone, think about if what they said was really that insulting or rude enough where you couldn’t talk it out or clear up a simple misunderstanding. And maybe pay attention to the MV Expectation presentation, it might be useful in the long run.

So you don’t end up like a total fool like my junior year self.

Unobstructed (adj.): free from impediment or obstruction