This post has been inspired by a woman who asked me a question about Facebook blocking via my Facebook fan page. The question was right up my alley and, as I have written a few posts about blocking people on Facebook, I thought that I would take the opportunity to bring this question (and my answer) to the attention of all of my readers.
This is the question that was written on my fan page:
“Question: Do you think it’s proper etiquette for a grown sibling and her 4 teenaged children to block you and your family on FB then invite you to family parties as if nothing is wrong? (By the way–I’ve declined to attend citing breach of social media manners.)”
As my articles about blocking on Facebook have been popular and I am constantly receiving comments on the posts and emailed questions asking me further questions about blocking, I wanted to share my thoughts with regards to this question. The following dialogue occurred on my fan page in response to the initial question.
My answer: “No, I do not think that is proper etiquette on their part. Would they block your phone calls? Would they tell the mailman not to deliver mail from your address? Families are complex, though. Maybe they are inviting you because they think there might be backlash if they cool it with the invites. Is that a possibility?”
Follow-up comment from the woman who asked the question: “I’ve actually made it clear that they can leave us off the invite list–not a problem. I think the motive for the sibling is to look “good” or at least “better” to others in the family. And when we (my family) decline the invitations–the finger gets pointed at us for not trying to get along. I honestly don’t want to hang out with folks who feel the need to publicly diss my family and myself on social media.”
My second response: “I agree with that. I always say that our social media behavior is an extension of our offline behavior. There is no need to do that to family and I’m sorry that you are the scapegoat.”
I would like to expand upon this a little bit more here. As I have said in the past, I think that blocking on Facebook needs to be done with extreme caution. There are many ways to limit your interactions with people on the social network, including hiding them from your News Feed, unfriending them or simply ignoring their updates and posts. Facebook blocking, in my opinion, is always a very last resort.
Let me take this scenario and put it into an offline situation. If you had a family member who never returned your phone calls and had their phone number blocked from taking calls from your phone number, would you continue to interact with that person in social settings? My guess is that you would not. Blocking incoming calls from a phone number would be an extreme measure that would tell you, in fairly uncertain terms, that the person has no interest in interacting with you. Why would you attend the person’s social events after something like that?
As a family gal, this gets a little tricky with family (as many things do)! The dynamics with family are not always black and white. There is a lot of grey area. That said, my opinion about this is still the same. Actions are actions, no matter what. If the woman who asked the question about blocking decides that she wants to keep these family members in her social life, despite the blocking on Facebook, then she should definitely participate in the family functions that these people hold. However, I do not think that she is under any obligation to do so.
What are your thoughts? Do family members get a free pass when it comes to online etiquette? What would you do in a situation like this?