ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

A Never-Ending Block Party —

Kerfuffles are Kerfuffles. Causing one recently, with its particularly low-stakes aspects (what’s done is done, no actions appear to be planned, I’m already doing things differently, etc.) allowed me to at least re-visit a policy I’ve been somewhat silently instituting for years.

I block. I block frequently, quickly, and across every single medium that consitutes “communication” in the contemporary era.

I’ve been doing it for well over a decade, but somewhere after my heart attack I upped the frequency and dropped the level at which the “block” action gets enacted. It is very, very easy to find yourself unable to directly communicate with me via the method I blocked you.

Why anyone would possibly care that I do this (beyond the people I block) is not entirely my responsibility, but I think there’s a point, so let’s keep going.

First, I’m rather easy to find and communicate with. I have many channels of ingress, from phone numbers and e-mails to social media and streaming. I do this mostly because I’m trying to be there when people have materials to donate to Internet Archive, or if they’re in distress and need to reach out to someone. Both these situations happen more than one might think. I appreciate both when they do, and do my best under the circumstances.

But the downside is that people can reach me very easily and all your instincts that there are spectacular counts of truly damaged individuals who have effortlessly acquired internet access and spray their damage around the world like some urine-filled lawn sprinker are, as I can personally attest, correct.

At some point, depending on how far back you have persisted online, there was this unspoken contract that you gave someone multiple bites of the apple to show how awful they were, under the theory that the first interaction was an inadvertently bad impression. That contract is no longer in effect. That’s a large contingency of folks gone; the masters of showing up in the middle of a conversation or communication, unbidden and unwanted, and dropping absolute bile into the stream. One strike and they’re out.

Occasionally, I even pre-block. I block people who, when I see them interacting with others, I have no overly powerful urge to envision ever being a part of their online lives. I suppose there’s some fundamental Fear of Missing Out that could be ginned up regarding them, that they might end up saying or doing something that I should know about, but I’ll let others tell me. There are a non-zero amount of times I’ve seen people say “Foobatz69 has a point” and I go look them up and I’ve blocked Foobatz69. Maybe I’ll peek in. I probably won’t.

Less obviously, it goes the other way too. In a notable amount of situations, I’ve blocked people because I recognize that I’m going to be the problem, that what I do and how I approach things are exactly the sort of activity that makes a given person or account go ballistic or switch to attack mode, so I save us both the trouble. I occasionally hear they’re confused. I do not seek to explain why. They continue to live a normal and happy life, and I continue along with mine.

So, why bring this all up?

Well, first, occasional this-and-that publicity has provided me with the ability to see discussions about myself in which a small number of blocked folks commiserated about the whole “Jason blocked me” situation and of course many have taken the Imagination Express to Injustice Town to describe a situation where I could possibly have come to the decision to block, and the general consensus will be some variation of a degredation of my mental health.

It’s quite the opposite. My mental health has never been better.

Outside of absolute buzzbomb cornhusks dropping corossive misery at every opportunity, there were a range of folks who I truly admired and respected who, upon my looking back retrospectively at our interactions across years, totally lacked warmth and friendliness from their position. Literally every response a vicious insult and somehow, I’d considered this a pleasant and comfortable dish to be served down the front of my tuxedo on common occasions. Their blockage is literally medication, a salve, an ointment. I’m free of my delusion that they are friends.

And again, there are folks who, I find, are going to be nothing but negative energy in my life, at a time when I am growing older and don’t see much need to throw my body and life into a deep dark well of irrelevant free-floating rage, never to be recovered or rewarded.

And you know? On at least a half-dozen occasions, which is more than any reasonable person should experience, I’ve had individuals who, upon being blocked and clearly indicated their presence and communication were unwelcome, proceed to track down and find every single communication channel still open to them and begin upping the energetic demands I explain myself. I’m talking chat systems, phone calls, e-mails from various addresses, and asking friends of mine who might still have contact with me to “put in a word” to “set the record straight”. In other words, I have entirely too many examples where people I had a bad feeling about have gone absolute full stalker mode, in a way that they would never imagine themselves as such, but absolutely are. On two of those six occasions, it happened physically.

None of those half-dozen are being unblocked. That was not the solution to the percieved issue.

I’m sharing this not for some sort of support plea, or to indicate I have a hard life. I have the mathematical opposite of a hard life.

I’m sharing it on the off-chance that someone reads this, realizes their relationship with someone or someones online is actually a massive negative energy drain, or rife with abuse, or simply a case of not realizing you’ve left a pathway to lightweight harassment that can do nothing but increase. If that’s the case, trust me. Block, block, block. Report and block. Mute and block. You will feel parts of your soul unclench that you didn’t previously understand were balled into tights fist of stress and simmering disaster. I’m involved in dozens, sometimes hundreds of interactions in a given week, and I do it. You should consider this your license to do it as well.

If this helps two people, it was worth it to discuss. And it’s already helped one, and that one is me.

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  1. Ashly says:

    Well said, my friend! As someone who has cut many people, including family members, out of my life as if they were a fucking cancer, I could not agree more.

    These types don’t deserve your energy. When I was younger and more energetic, I used to waste so much time and passion flipping out on said people. Not anymore.

  2. Johan Herrenberg says:

    You’re reasonableness incarnate.

  3. […] like Jason Scott, feel no guilt about blocking. Boundaries are […]

  4. A large circulating thing says:

    I love your work (and have been following you for probably 15 or more years) and you should never feel like you have to justify yourself. Being a ‘public’ person means that you’ll get nutters the like of which I will never see. I commend your approach to any who have a similar situation. As I always say, look after number 1 first. Put your on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Etc.

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