The Weirdness of Social Media

I’ve burnt a lot of bridges in my seven years of blogging. Some of them went up spectacularly for everyone to see. Others flared in the night, when no one was watching. Some smoldered quietly until the foundation finally gave way and some I set fire to without even realizing–it was only when I went back to cross them one day that I realized they were gone.

The number of bloggers who will have nothing to do with me is in the double digits. It’s a significant number of people. I’m sure I’ve pissed off that many people, if not more, in real life, but what’s weird about these people is that not only can I not avoid them, but I can stumble upon not just them, but upon their thoughts and conversations, in their entirety, for me to read.

It’s such an odd phenomena, one that doesn’t really happen in real life. In real life if you see someone you’ve fallen out with you avoid them. You may lock eyes for a moment, or even give an awkward hello, but that is usually as far as it goes. You don’t hang around and read their journal or skim their email or listen in on a conversation they’re having with someone else. Most of the time, once the damage has been done, you never see or hear from them again.

And yet with blogs and comment sections and FB and Instagram, you can never really escape from the shadows of your past. Even if you try to avoid them, your paths will cross eventually. And there are few things weirder than reading a conversation you know no one wants you to participate in.

It’s just a disconcerting thing, one that people never had to navigate before the age of social media.

You may think I failed in my attempt not to write something I will later regret, but I don’t post this to start shit (and I don’t think it’s fodder for shit starting). I harbor no resentment toward anyone, and I’ve assumed responsibility for the parts I played in the various pyrotechnics. It’s just something I’ve noticed (over and over again–there are A LOT people who would rather I didn’t respond to a post, comment or status update) and something I think about. Social media can be awkward terrain, and without proper guideposts, we’re not always sure which way to go. Personally I choose to walk away, and I try hard to do it without my tail between my legs.

Have you burned any bridges in social media? How do you navigate them?

14 Comments

    1. Yes, I do teach middle school and I remember being in it myself (worst years of my life, as far as social isolation goes), but I don’t think you have the same kind of access to a person in that situation. Sure you may see them a lot, and watch them participating in conversations, but I don’t think you have the possibility of interacting in those conversations in the same way when you see them happening in front of you and you are forcibly being shut out as when you come across them online, where there is no physical presence keeping you away.

      Maybe I’m wrong though. You’re comment suggests you believe that is the case.

    2. It is not the same. You can physically avoid the person you had a falling out with in real life, you can turn and go the other way. In the blog world, paths cross every day and hearing from the other person, even if you can’t want to, is often unavoidable.

      1. Really? I find it MUCH easier to avoid someone online than I ever did in middle school. For one thing, I don’t have to go to classes with them. There’s also programs you can use to keep from clicking on their blog or seeing their tweets (I have heard) or even seeing their comments in forums. And, unless one runs foul of something like gamergate, it doesn’t intersect into reality. Nobody hurls insults at you while you’re walking down the street, and if they do it down your virtual street, they can be permanently blocked.

        1. You’re right, being in class with someone you have beef with is the worst. Worst than coming across their stuff online. Online people can’t push you up against a wall and punch you because you were dogging them (did I mention middle school sucked?) So I will concede that it can be a lot worse in a real life situation where you can’t avoid the person.

          I do think there is an awkward kind of, I don’t know, almost voyeurism involved in what you can access on social media, even without trying to, from a person you’ve had a falling out that you just don’t experience in real life. So I guess I’m not talking about it being more horrible than IRL situations, but instead being more strangely intimate. The weirdness comes in how much you can witness, and in how strange (not necessarily horrible) it is that you can witnesses it.

          I’m intrigued by the program you speak of. I will look into it.

  1. Yes, I’ve had a few falling outs and I think it’s weird to see those peoples comments, posts, etc. after the fact. I’ll say right here, right now that my mind is much happier now that one of those people went private with her blog because it’s no longer a train wreck calling my attention (not that she’s a train wreck, but that the urge to look when you know you should just mind your own business type of wreck). When those people go private or fade away, etc. that’s when it feels more like the situation we’re used to, before social media happened. If you want to interact or bear witness, you have to actively TRY once they’ve faded away. But when they’re on fb and blogs commenting on posts you read, you can’t 100% choose to not interact and that gets weird.

    I TOTALLY agree!

    1. “When those people go private or fade away, etc. that’s when it feels more like the situation we’re used to, before social media happened. If you want to interact or bear witness, you have to actively TRY once they’ve faded away. But when they’re on fb and blogs commenting on posts you read, you can’t 100% choose to not interact and that gets weird.”

      THIS! This is exactly it. I’m glad someone else understands.

  2. I try really hard not to burn bridges in any aspect of my life, but I know I have. I don’t bend over backwards to keep people in my life, but I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. We have all posted when we are in bad moods or feeling a certain degree of “f-ck it”. That being said, I’ve pissed a few people off and vice versa…and I try to be as gracious as possible. If it’s a blog or person on FB that is infuriating me…I silently slip away and try to avoid contact. The glorious part of having a generally anonymous blog is the ability to separate my social circles.

    1. I feel very fortunate that I’ve only pissed off someone IRL with my blog once. I have been lucky enough that my blog and my IRL universes haven’t crossed much. But I have also become very good friends with other bloggers, so having fallings out with them has been really harder, much harder than I would have expected. So even though my blog social circle and my IRL social circle don’t intersect, my blogging social circle is surprisingly big and surprisingly tangled.

  3. I’ve faded out of the lives of some blog friends (and they mine), but there’s only one blogger who I specifically asked to stay the fuck out of my life, and I am SOOOO much happier without her negativity surrounding me. I blocked her on every social media platform I could – mainly so *I* wouldn’t be tempted to even see what she is up to. Ha!

    1. I’m glad your life is better after setting boundaries. Setting boundaries is something I struggle with, which is perhaps why this is such an issue for me.

  4. I have to say I have never had a massive fall out with any blogger. I did lose touch with someone I was incredibly close to during TTC, it just faded I supposed like Josey said above and there have been others that eventually you just don’t have anything in common with. However in terms of bloggers, if I have befriended over and above a blog (such as Insta, FB etc) I am generally on speaking terms still.

    There are some bloggers that I roll my eyes at and don’t have a lot of time with but I definitely have never had a tiff with anyone.

    1. “There are some bloggers that I roll my eyes at and don’t have a lot of time with but I definitely have never had a tiff with anyone.” — you are a bigger person than I. I wish I could say the same.

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