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Don’t Block. Let’s Talk.

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Better Conversation Blocking Erika Sanzi Melinda Anderson Twitter

Don’t Block. Let’s Talk.

Don’t Block. Let’s Talk.

I got blocked.

As someone who has never used the “Block” feature on Twitter, I wasn’t really aware of this blocking phenomenon until I was part of a thread last week that was an actual discussion of how someone had blocked a few people with strong but differing voices. My Twitter handle was embedded in the thread but I wasn’t actively involved in the conversation that appears to have led to the walls going up.

Pulling the Shade

My Dad calls this “pulling the shade” (a saying he attributes to his father) and I think it’s the perfect metaphor for blocking on Twitter. He uses it to describe when someone decides to exit a dialogue or ignore a situation without actually letting you know. They don’t tell you why they’ve chosen to disengage or stop communicating with you. They just pull the shade.

Blocking someone on Twitter is the cyber version of pulling the shade. Rather than push through our disagreements with the goal of finding even a tiny bit of common ground, we remove people from the dialogue. Rather than following one another on Twitter so that we can exchange direct messages and move through the disagreement more privately, we cut off all communication.

If someone has a pattern of being offensive or profane or dealing in personal attacks, I can see letting them know we’re not okay with it. If it continues, a Twitter block seems logical.

Getting to Know You

What is detrimental to elevating the conversation around education (or anything really) is blocking those we’ve decided are on the other side without ever getting to know who they are, how they think, and how they engage in conversations. We are shutting down before we even try to engage.

I’m guessing the most recent block of me is because @mdawriter has chosen to lump me in with others she has blocked (the tweet above certainly suggests that). And yes, I certainly do agree with guys fighting the belief gap and working on behalf of people of color.

I do not know what exactly @mdawriter finds objectionable about my “friends” on Twitter. Maybe it’s their advocacy, their style, their opinions or their sarcasm. But she has eliminated any opportunity for dialogue and sharing of ideas by pulling the shade on me. And on them.

Better Conversation

Everyone has the right to block whoever they want. Twitter offers it, and we know it is a favorite feature of many. I worry, however, that using this feature as our default response not only gets us nowhere but sets a dangerous example for the students we are all working to help. We want them to engage in difficult and even uncomfortable conversations, not run away from them.

My suggestion to all in the education debate is that we try harder to work through our disagreements, even when our blood is boiling, with the goal of coming out on the other side. I’m convinced we have far more in common than we think.

We wouldn’t have dedicated ourselves to improving education if we didn’t.

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