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Want to Get Out of a Facebook Tussle? Throw a Block

by Keith Gatling | 10 months ago

Recently, I posted about how people who didn't really want to deal with Facebook could do so without giving up their privacy and without being drawn into the drama. This piece is for those of you who've fully embraced Facebook, but could use a little less of the drama that seems to come your way.

To be blunt, I'm talking about dealing with people who are jerks, trolls, bullies, or whatever else you want to call them. These people hijack your thread, spout ideas that have no basis in fact, won't listen to reason, and get their little posse of like-minded people to gang up on you. You don't need to deal with these people.

And you don't have to.

Or rather, I should say you can deal with these people...and quite effectively too.

There are two ways of dealing with these people. One works on a local, post by post, basis; and the other one works globally, for everything. I'll talk about the local way first.

Locally and Case by Case

The local way only applies to things you post on your own timeline. That's why it's local. Let's face it, we all have people among our friends who we know better than to discuss certain topics with. This can easily be avoided by targeting who can see your post. Didn't know you could do that? Well, you can, and it's quite easy.

Your default posting settings probably let all of your friends see whatever you post. But you can change that, either on a post by post basis, or for all time. For example, maybe I'm looking for Christmas present ideas for my wife, but don't want her to know that I'm asking around. I can change who sees it from Friends to Friends except... and then pick my wife's name. Now, whatever I post, and all the responses to it, will be invisible to her. But I have to be careful here. I have to remember to reset my posting settings for Friends, otherwise she won't see anything anymore.

Well, I've done this with certain friends of mine who never met a subject they couldn't turn into a big bloody argument. I have a setting that pretty much says Friends Except: Larry and Moe, and when I know I'm about to write about something that they going to go into a never-ending debate about, I post with that setting. They never see the original post or the responses, they don't argue with me for days, and everyone's happier. They're still friends, I still get to see what they post (unless I've unfollowed them), but we have fewer bloody arguments.

I just have to remember to go back to Friends for subsequent posts that won't incite them.

Globally and for All Time

I belong to four Facebook groups for people with shared interests. Life on two of them is very calm, with no jerkiness, bullying, or trolling going on. But the other two groups...oh my goodness. They can be very contentious at times.

Let me rephrase that...some people can be very contentious at times. It really only takes one or two people to make a place seem unfriendly. It only takes one or two devoted trolls to change the tone of group. It only takes three or four bullies to make people afraid to express their opinions in a group for fear that they'll be piled on by the leader and their posse.

After having been attacked in one of these groups, yet again, by the leader of just such a posse and their minions, I decided to see if there was a way for me to post to the group in such a way that this person would never see anything I wrote again. The local method that I just described above doesn't work for groups, but there was something that would. Something I would call the nuclear option. I could block this person.

Blocking a person works for all of Facebook. No matter what group we're in together, they won't see me and I won't see them. This was wonderful. It meant that not only would they not see any of my posts, so they couldn't attack me and set their minions out to do the same; but I wouldn't see any of the stuff that this person spewed either.

I thought about it carefully for a while, because this seemed like such a failure of diplomacy, but I decided that it was worth it. I blocked the person, and suddenly my life in this group was much calmer. I also made a note of all of this person's minions so I could block them if need be.

A similar situation has arisen in one of the other groups I belong to, where most of the 3000 people there are quite reasonable. But then there are the three or four people who insist on causing trouble, hijacking your thread, and trolling. I'm going to use the nuclear option on them too.

So how do you block someone? You simply go to your Facebook Settings, and you'll see one for Blocking. Click on that, and you'll get a little box asking the name of the person you want to block.

This is where you need to be careful, because since this person isn't one of your friends to begin with, you can't just choose them from a premed list of people. You have to type in their name and choose the right person from the list of all the people on Facebook with that name. So if you want to block John Smith, you have to be absolutely certain that it's the right John Smith. How do you know? Go back to the group that you're both members of and look at their profile picture. Now, when you go back to block them, and you type in their name, make sure that the profile picture for this John Smith matches the profile picture from the group. Select it, and you're done. You'll never hear from this person again, they'll never hear from you...and your life on Facebook will be peaceful again.

And, as I said before, blocking someone doesn't just block them from with this group. It blocks them from wherever you are on Facebook. You won't see them, and they won't see you anywhere. That's why it's the global method.

But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.