When to Block Them

Social media connects us in ways that were never thought possible just twenty years ago. Want to talk to that cute girl from math? You no longer have to ask for her number and call her; just DM her! Do you want to start a conversation with that handsome guy from youth group? You’re a few clicks and a Facebook search away from finding his Instagram! Long-distance relationships that once depended on written letters and phone calls can now thrive on Facetime or Skype. Social media allows us to communicate with others more frequently and easily than ever before.

Social media’s presence and effect on our culture is undeniable and, as with almost everything impactful, social media has its fair share of negative effects. Among these is the possibility for interactions on apps like Instagram or Snapchat to be misinterpreted and/or turn sour quickly. When people communicate behind a screen, there is a higher tendency to be rude, inconsiderate, inappropriate, or even abusive. Because of these unfortunate behaviors, the infamous “block” may need to occur.

The block button is a very powerful feature on social media apps. The moment you decide to block an account, a full shutdown of interaction between that profile and your own occurs. If someone is struggling to get the message you’ve tried to communicate to them, the block button might be the way to go. It is a power move for sure, but one that might be necessary for some situations. Due to the dramatic nature of this function, people might be hesitant to use it. It is seen as a worst-case scenario in many situations and is definitely an action that most people would consider as a serious response if performed on Snapchat or Instagram. While we should definitely aim to practice good communication habits and attempt to see Jesus in everybody that we interact with, that does not mean that we have to be open to receiving everything that other people say to us.

It is never okay to tolerate continual harassment, persistent emotional manipulation, or misguided comments or questions about things you are not comfortable with. We have to get comfortable drawing boundaries around destructive relationships — even digital boundaries. Our own dignity is important to protect and simply “putting up” with something that degrades that at any level is detrimental to what we’re called to. What follows is a list of things that I believe warrant hitting that block button.

When they try to convince you to do something you don’t want to do.

In the same way that threats are a serious matter if spoken in person, digital threats or ultimatums should be taken just as seriously. One of the greatest gifts that God ever gave us is that of free will, so it is important that we protect that in our interactions. If someone you’re romantically involved with is trying to play the “If you love me, you’ll do this” card or something akin to it, you should feel empowered to let them know that you won’t tolerate being treated like that.

When they lie to you.

Honesty is important in any type of communication including digital communication. Lying, big or small, can lead to major problems down the road, and it is crucial to stop it before it gets out of hand. If their narratives and stories consistently don’t add up or they seem to “forget” details, we should definitely be cautiously suspicious and consider a block.

On another note about honesty and online communication — be sure to avoid being the victim of being “catfished,” or fooled into talking to a fake persona somebody made up. One of the many dangers of the internet is the possibility for people to pretend to be whoever they want, so be wary if you are talking to somebody online you’ve never actually met or know outside of the internet. There are many ways to verify if the person you’re talking to is real or not, so just make it sure early on in the communication. Additionally, you should always strive for honesty and authenticity in conversations, but you do not need to reveal personal details like where you live and where you go to school with every person we interact with online. These details are true and honest, but not necessary to be given out, especially to people you don’t already know.

When they ask for pictures… you know the kind of pictures.

If someone who you’re talking to asks for photos or videos of you that are sexual or inappropriate by nature, then communication needs to be cut off immediately. While exchanging nudes might be common in our culture, that does not mean it is okay. As I said earlier, while you should seek to be kind in all communication with others, but you also have to protect your own dignity, and doing so means that we make it clear that our bodies are not for solicitation or use.Maintain a no-tolerance policy when people direct message us asking for nudes. They might seem like the sweetest guy/gal in the world, but if they ask for that type of content from you, block them immediately. Even if they do have a good heart, you’re not responsible for finding it for them.

Someone who asks for nudes should be blocked, but you should also be on the lookout for conversations that are provocative by nature. If someone is asking what you have or haven’t done physically or trying to talk about intimate actions with you, the next thing that follows should be the block button. The only path that can go down is worse, so stop it before it gets there.

When they won’t leave you alone.

Simply said, it is not cool if your phone seems to blow up with messages from somebody unannounced and unasked for. While it is nice to be polite to people, you do not owe anybody a response if they keep bothering you, especially after requests to stop. If they keep messaging you without an end in sight or won’t leave you alone despite the wishes you have voiced to them, then it might be time to cut off communication.

Online communication can be tricky to navigate, especially with the other gender. You were created with infinite dignity and worth; don’t let anyone treat you otherwise — even online. Sometimes we need hard lines to hold ourselves and others to good and healthy standards for communication. And when people cross those lines…