social media

Blocking is not evidence

People get to decide who they do and don’t want to talk to.

Online, part of what that means is that people can block each other. People who don’t want to talk to each other can make the conversation stop.

If someone blocks someone else, all it means is that they’ve decided to stop talking to them. In almost all cases, you have every right to do that.

Blocking someone doesn’t mean you’ve lost an argument. (Similarly, if someone else blocks you, that doesn’t mean you’ve won or that you’re better than them.) It just means that you’ve chosen to stop talking to someone.

There’s nothing wrong with ending a conversation. You don’t have to interact with everyone who wants your attention. You have the right to have boundaries and you have the right to use technology to enforce them.

The only time it’s wrong to block people is if they are entitled to your attention for some reason. That’s rare, and mostly applies to corporations and elected officials. 

Blocking is not a punishment or a confession of weakness. It’s a boundary.

"Too nuanced to fit into a tweet"

I’ve seen a lot of people say that Twitter is bad for conversation because things worth saying are too nuanced to fit into a tweet.

That misses something about Twitter. Twitter is mostly about conversations. And it’s possible to have very good conversations on Twitter. Some of which can’t happen easily elsewhere. Twitter is particularly good for talking to strangers.

You can say a lot in one tweet. You can say even more in multiple tweets — especially if you’re having a conversation with other people.

The number of characters in a tweet is limited. The number of tweets in a conversation is not limited.

A tweet doesn’t need to say everything. It just needs to be part of the conversation. And there are tweets that support nuance and tweets that make nuance harder.

There are a lot of skills that go into quality Twitter conversations. I’m planning to write about some of them, hopefully in the near future.

But for now — the first step towards good Twitter conversations is realizing that they are possible.

more on facebook



Friending people on Facebook


In a work or college class setting, after how many days/convos is it considered socially acceptable to ask for someone’s Facebook?
realsocailskills said:
I think that in most situations, you shouldn’t be asking someone for…

cocksucking-accent said:

Re privacy: you could also have two Facebooks! For example: I’m trans and autistic, but stealth about both at work. (Openly queer, though.)

I have my old FB all set to private, with a nickname as my name and a drawing as my photo. Once you friend me on that, you have access to pre-transition photos of me and pretty political stuff, but I post rarely.

My work FB (since my industry is all short-term jobs gotten through word of mouth, so networking is Important) has my full name, just a couple of photos and some info, and I make most posts public. I post often because networking, but the public-ness of it makes me think twice about everything I post. Really, there’s no difference between “public” and not for me because I will friend back anyone from work. Kinda like LinkedIn. So my posts are less involved than my personal ones - for example, I’ve posted a couple of trans news articles but without any comments that would out me as anything other than a ~trans activist~. It IS professionally important for me to work with people who at the very least aren’t openly bigoted, so I’m okay being public with some of my “social consciousness.”

wisdomengine said:

A word of warning: having two Facebook accounts is a violation of their ToS. Same with LinkedIn, btw. This means if somebody who wants to do you dirt finds out you have two, they can get you in trouble, and get one of your accounts shut down — or maybe get you banned from the service for good. Not saying you shouldn’t do it — I do it in LinkedIn — but it’s not no big thing, and you should know the risk you’re running.

I think this is a serious social justice problem with both FB and LinkedIn, for exactly the sort of use case you describe: people have legit reasons of self-protection that they might want to have two accounts. Identities in transition are one such; separating the personal and the professional is another; having the old one your stalker knows about and a completely different one you actually use is another. Services that force consolidation of identity under a real name are doing evil in the world, largely to already marginalized people.

It also impacts artists, or anybody managing multiple careers. I’m someone with more than one career, so having more than one LinkedIn makes sense; trying to have all the info from both careers just makes me look like a light-weight, and halves the number of skills I can list for each. This is a common problem for, e.g. performing artists who have “day jobs”. They might reasonably want to have a LinkedIn resume detailing their acting/directing/stage managing/set design/pit orchestra/etc work history, but they don’t want all that in there if they’re trying to land a tech support job to pay the bills.

I’ve already complained directly to LinkedIn about this. (FB I consider a moral lost cause.) If this bugs you too, please consider complaining to the relevant parties.

And be careful if you do have multiple accounts.

Another thing about Facebook

Facebook is an environment with confusing boundaries. It’s easy to inadvertently cross lines on Facebook. Almost everyone ends up inadvertently violating boundaries on Facebook that they would never violate in person.

But not all boundary violation on Facebook are like that. Facebook can also be used for stalking. Serious stalking. Not semi-cute awkwardness like commenting on too many things.

Facebook can be used to harass people. It can be used to try to force contact. It can be used to track someone’s movements. It can be used to find out who the victim associates with, and then to try to use those people to get to them.

If you are Facebook friends with both an abuser and their victim, this can hurt the victim. It can, and often does, result in you accidentally giving information to the abuser that it is dangerous to the victim to have. This is the case even if the victim has blocked the abuser.

(For instance, photos of the victim that you post or comment on can show up in the abuser’s news feed.)

If you’re close to someone who is extracting themself from an abusive relationship, and they ask you to unfriend their abuser, it’s important to take that request seriously.

Facebook boundaries

(This is in regards to your recent post about no, boundaries, and pushing people around.) After a multi-year relationship ends, person A still feels intense pain on seeing person B’s face/name on friends Facebook walls. Person B has largely removed themselves from person A’s social circles, but the mutual friends keep them as Facebook friends. Would it be asserting or pushing for person A to politely ask that those friends remove person B from their Facebook due to the pain person A feels?

realsocialskills said:

I think it depends on the situation and the relationships involved. I think that would usually be more like pushing people around, but not always. 

I think that it’s usually unreasonable to expect people to choose between person A and person B in a breakup, unless the relationship was abusive. And asking people to unfriend someone on Facebook is definitely asking them to take sides.

And even if the relationship was abusive, it might not be in your interests to try to convince every single person who knows both of you of this.

That said, if you block someone on Facebook, then they won’t show up in your feed even if they comment on things that you can see. Blocking someone makes them invisible to you for the most part. I think it would be better to try that first.

Things I think I know about Facebook

Facebook is difficult to do right because it’s a new form of interaction, and it keeps changing. it’s a weird new ambiguous social space. There aren’t clear rules for it, and it’s messing up some social rules that used to exist. 

So there isn’t really one right approach. But here are some principles that I think have merit:

Post things that you feel like saying which your friends might want to hear about, or which your friends might leave comments you want to hear:

  • For instance, pictures of your trip to Chicago
  • A status saying that the flowers are awesome today
  • Or a link to an interesting news article
  • Or a joke
  • Or life things like getting a new job, or a relationship, or things of that nature
  • Or a crowd-sourcing question. For instance “does anyone know of a good place in Some Town to entertain two 10 year olds for a couple of hours?” or “What are some books about hamsters?”

The thing you’re posting about doesn’t have to be important.  

Don’t post things you don’t want others to see:

  • For instance, venting on Facebook tends to backfire. If you aren’t going to want something to be visible once you’re not mad anymore, don’t post it.
  • Don’t post anything that’s seriously private, either, no matter what your privacy settings are. If something is on Facebook, other people will treat it as public information
  • If you took pictures of people while you were drunk, or while they were drunk, think twice about posting those pictures to Facebook. At minimum, wait and see if you still think it is a good idea to post the pictures after everyone sobers up
  • It’s generally a bad idea to post anything sexually explicit. Too many people who it’d be better not to discuss sex with will see it.

Protect other people’s safety and privacy:

  • Be careful to avoid outing people. Someone may be out in every context you know them in, but not out to everyone who can see them on Facebook.
  • For instance, someone who is absolutely flamingly gay and out to everyone you know might not be out to his parents, and mentioning on Facebook that he’s gay could cause him problems
  • Similarly, someone who is obviously and openly autistic in every context you’ve encountered them in might not have disclosed this to their school, and might be in danger of being discriminated against if their teachers see pictures of them at an autistic event.
  • If someone’s in a stigmatized group, don’t reference it on Facebook unless they themselves regularly reference it on Facebook or have told you it’s ok to do so

Keep in mind the limits of Facebook as a forum

  • When you post a status, any of your friends who can see it can comment on it
  • This means that anyone can jump in at any time
  • Which means that one guy who tends to ruin conversations is likely to jump in and do so
  • This becomes increasingly likely when you post more controversial things
  • This is especially true when you’re commenting on someone else’s posts. Your perfectly lovely friend may well have some friends who you’d never tolerate socially, but who can comment on their status in ways that bother you.
  • This means that Facebook tends not to be a good kind of forum for extended public discussion
  • Which doesn’t mean don’t ever discuss things on Facebook - doing so can be worthwhile. But you’ll be happier if you stay aware of the inherit limits and don’t expect more than is likely to be possible on Facebook

Facebook is useful for keeping track of events

  • If you want to invite people to something, it can be easier to make a Facebook event than to track down everyone’s contact information and keep track of who has said they are going
  • For this reason, if people want to invite you to something, they’re going to look for you on Facebook
  • This is a reason to have a Facebook account, and to be friends with people who you socialize with in contexts that Facebook events are useful for

Being on Facebook doesn’t mean you owe everyone in the world your attention:

  • You don’t have to check Facebook regularly
  • You don’t have to be friends with anyone you don’t want to be friends with
  • If you want to be someone’s friend (because of mutual events, or to avoid offending them, or some other reason), but you don’t want to pay attention to them, you can hide them from your news feed. Hiding people whose posts annoy you makes Facebook a lot more pleasant and useable.
  • Sooner or later, you’re probably going to have to block someone. There are always people in life who don’t respect boundaries, and you’re allowed to have them anyway and use technology to enforce them.

Some Facebook features that I don’t see the point of:

  • Walls. Walls used to matter before there was a news feed, but I don’t understand what they’re for anymore. It seems to me that they don’t really accomplish anything, but do create ways to make people feel uncomfortable
  • Pokes. They basically just don’t do anything anymore
  • Questions: I just don’t get what this is for.