Most people see blocking as a tool. But for what?

I have a class where the theme is “rights, duties and perceptions”, on my course. Those 300 pages are starting to make sense: I paid an effort because I cared. But let’s look at all the people who didn’t, for a bit. One of the questions I’ve asked a student is what kind of thing he used to hear at home and he thought was just a dumb rule. I’ve repeated this question on a video about web policy. And here we are, debating nudes on Instagram, 10 years after its creation. Except… we’re not. I haven’t read any stories, just the news it was developing AI. I didn’t hear anybody in favor or against; I didn’t hear any personal stories; I didn’t hear moms, dads and teenagers; I didn’t hear employees and HR departments, I didn’t hear old ladies. But there was this piece on the media this week. The dumb rule, in my not-so-modest opinion, is not sending nudes on Instagram. At a minimum, the company doesn’t know how to set policy. And I could go on and on about how they’ve lied to the public in terms of advertising data, but every site has done so with the cookie policy, and I’m one of the people who felt a need to include one on mine — nobody instructed me to. I say: partfluency uses that to understand visibility. So let’s talk about visibility.

The dumb rule my student mentioned was not wearing a hat at the lunch table. We both didn’t really understand it. Maybe taking off your hat was a sign of respect, and in fact, until this day I see people tipping their hats when someone says something funny — like they’re really saying “I agree”. It makes no sense. Maybe if someone said: “don’t wear red in the hospital”, that would make more sense. Of course, that could make people think someone’s badly injured and needing urgent care, in a place where people come and go, metaphorically, literally. But back to social media. When I started making public comments on my potential girlfriend’s profile, I got blocked. I can’t guess what happened. I remember one of our interactions, block lifted, where she said she was cooking something, and I said “meanwhile, chicken at the lunch table”. She’s a vegetarian, but she liked it. I mean, that’s the opposite of what you wanna do. If she was honest, she’d be replying with “ew”. But no, she “liked” it. And I have many examples of occassions where I posted on Facebook: “feeling like shit today” and people would literally give me a thumbs up. Sorry, that makes you happy? Are you trying to control the robots to make me even more unhappy and teaching them that when I’m unhappy, the world is in the path to improvement? What’s the plan? And for most, it’s the guy who sends dick pics. I mean, most teens, of course. But no, I don’t mean that, because I talk to teens and what they’re doing now is they’re asking everyone and recording everything. For what reason? That is a mystery. I’m not investigating sex trafficking rings, that is a job for the FBI, I believe. If they’re aware that what they save has an origin which is traceable and their passwords and contacts are too, then maybe they’re just smarter than us (and the FBI? Hmm…) and doing it on purpose. But the blocking thing? I don’t think so.

Because every time a person has blocked me, it was to escape debate. I’ve never threatened to punch anyone on the face (all I did was being on Twitter writing a reply about spitting on Donald Trump when he was the president, nothing absurd or nonsensical). It seems to me that there’s modes of interaction. If you exist online, people already know you exist. Let’s use a bad comparison: it’s like the Pornhub online user search: it’s there, and you know they’re lying to you. But who? Maybe back in the day, when Orkut still had the feature of seeing who visited your profile, we should’ve figured shit out — or rather, people should’ve explained it to us, because these were products being sold. The apps for that today are paid. Or maybe let’s say the reason you got locked out of Twitter was your use of VPN. You see, because people stealing your identity here was fine; in another country, you pay the price. Does that make sense? Of course it does not. Maybe they knew who these people were, and they were trying to help you out of a situation, but here you’re stuck with a bunch of gangsters and that’s good for business, since you can’t do shit? Anyway, back to blocking. You’re online, let’s suppose. The algorithm, oh almighty gore, oh deadskin on my dick wanting to play, alerts people that you’re online — or rather, alerts the Facebook database. And so your activity (like it used to by design) is shown on the “heart” icon. Instead of seeing what happened on *your* account, you see what happens on everybody else’s. Does anyone remember what excuse they had for overturning that policy? I surely don’t. But now, if you don’t have activity, you’re drowned in ads and other people’s activity (posts and accounts you may like). The same is happening on Twitter. Why? Can’t they at least go back to basics and make you pick an interest? No, they can’t. Cause they fucking suck at their jobs, that’s the truth. Alright, fine, it’s more profitable or whatever. But we know there’s a tricky side to that.

When I make a profile with a music distributor (let’s suppose it’s Bandcamp), if I make a dollar, 30 cents go to Bandcamp. That means my profile is, in essence, monetized. It means not only that I can make money, but other people can, too. And it’s not just a tiny fraction, you see. Let’s talk about money systems. If I input my password wrongly with my debit card, the bank blocks it, at least on ATMs and for most online transactions. That means I have the money, but I can’t access it, because of the many factors that could’ve led me to forget it. Now let’s suppose you’re a woman, and the guy said he had chicken on the table. Your friend turns to you and says: “aren’t you a vegetarian? that’s harrassment, block him”. And *to everyone’s surprise* she says “yeah, you’re right!” — and never looks back. Now remember what I said about monetized accounts? Remember what I said about people teaching the robots? Exactly: you can “teach social media” who deserves money and who does not. Except they make fake profiles to manipulate the algorithm all the freaking time. As it turns out, money is a big thing on social media, not just likes. One time, I asked my friend for a dollar to smoke. She blocked me. Yesterday, I was stretching my back, and I emmitted the most painful, deathbed-sounding noises of my life, trying to relieve some chest and lung pains, but I think part of that was muscular and the result of sedentarianism. She giggled and asked “sir, are you alright?” — of course she was also high on drugs and I sounded like an dying alien from a videogame, but that doesn’t really matter.

Why people block other people is simple: it’s more conveninent. They also think they’re making improvements. But they think, at some point, they have an entire system for their lives that’s going to favor them at all times, and they won’t let it go. Then insist on keeping you blocked. They don’t realize that maybe they were fucking wrong. Maybe they don’t have a reason anymore. And maybe, in case they were still stalking, your messages were not for them! They keep blocking. Which makes me think: if I block a billionaire on Twitter, I’m literally taking away his influence and that means I’ll have more of a chance to become the new billionaire, right? I mean, I’m teaching the algorithm. Maybe if I wanna be CEO, I can start by blocking the CEO. I’m just not sure what’s gonna happen when I see them. Are we going to live an alternate realities? Wait, is this what the Metaverse is really about? And if it is, wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of looking back at your memories, you had the option to review, just like your privacy settings that Google and Microsoft tell you to look at from time to time, your block list? What kinds of questions would they ask? “Are they still bothering you?” or “you’re not over this yet, are you?” — maybe even “it sucks there’s nothing else you can do about it, right?”

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