Block, delete and forget the past?

Black mirror does Block in real life

Had a really interesting conversation at a party about block and delete. It reminded me of previous friends who I had dated who would deal with the end of a relationship by blocking the other person. Luckily I haven’t been on the end of a block and delete too many times (only a couple to mind).

I do understand why people block and delete but I think its used too easily and quickly instead of dealing with conflict or be honest with your feelings with the other person.  I feel like its almost in the same category/area/orbit as another blog post I wrote about simple answers to difficult questions. Rather than even try and work things out, just block them and delete their details. Its so easy (like swipe left and right?) This makes ghosting look positively fair as a result.

Forget it happened, ignore the past and ultimately not learn from it? In the 7 stages of a relationship breakup, there is something important about facing your partner and being honest in the healing process. Something about block and delete directly cuts across. I compare it to the way prisoners sometimes are forced to face their victims – Restorative Justice.

Face-to-face meetings between victim and perpetrator bring relief to both parties….

Restorative justice gives victims that chance to reframe the story and heal in the process

I get it, if you are shouting at me about someone whos taken it too far, they have become a  pest, stalker or worst. It so much easier to just block them and forget them. But I say that ease comes at a high cost over all. I imagine long term use of block could lead to changes in the blocker or growing resentment from those blocked (wish there was research on this)

I tried to use the example of last years Black Mirror White Christmas to start to illustrate the problem with blocking.

I got blocked once, by @Lord_Sugar as it happens. I’m not sure why, maybe he saw me as a threat, in business. It wasn’t actually too upsetting, but then I wasn’t in a relationship with him – hardly knew him at all, to be honest. And he only blocked me on Twitter, not in real life, as people can do here sometime in the future, in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: White Christmas (Channel 4). So they can’t see you or hear you, nor you them: you’re both just muffled silhouettes, digital ghosts. That’s what happens to poor Joe (Rafe Spall).

Unfortunately the person I was talking to at the party had not seen it before. But this really hits the point I think I’m circling.

Brooker’s drama urges caution here and elsewhere in White Christmas. ‘Block’ someone social media-style in real life and you end the conversation. Any potential for redemption or growth ends with it. These are real people we’re dealing with, they’re not disposable.

Human feelings and relationships are messy and using a binary system of block, feels like hitting a nail with a sledgehammer way to initially end a relationship. (I say initially, because if they are not reasonable or abusive, I totally get the block.)

I guess I’m calling for more of a human approach to the way we think and end relationships. Without that, we could end up in the middle of a black mirror episode for real.

White Christmas’ nightmarish tales of isolation might be dark, but they show sage concern about the kind of world we’re building for ourselves. They ask us to consider the humanity of how we treat people online and in the real world. An extreme reflection it might be, but underneath it all, Black Mirror may well have the most charitable heart of any of this year’s seasonal specials.

Charlie Brooker had this to say when asked about White Christmas’  blocking plot point and would he block someone…

I think people do that, don’t they, when they’re commuting? If I sit on the tube I put headphones in and I stare at a book or anywhere but another human being. I think when you’re commuting you just do it psychologically to get through the day in a city.

In everyday life I think it would be really destructive, that’s kind of what happens. We can’t say too much about the story but [to Rafe] you’re involved in a blocking incident. I think there’s no way back. If you were to block someone, the conversation has ended, it’s not like you can build bridges. I don’t know that I would block anyone particularly in person. I’m on Twitter, but I don’t tend to block people unless they’re just unrelentingly unpleasant.

This ties in the alone together, ambient intimacy and human contact posts.. Hopefully this makes people think before they block and delete?

Enviable things about online dating


Online site reviews wrote a piece titled, 4 truths about online dating you have to accept. It well worth reading and the basic list is …

  1. Eventually you will run into someone you know.
  2. You will be ghosted.
  3. Photos will lie.
  4. A 99% match could be meaningless.

I tend to agree but I would add…

  • You will be misunderstood and even blocked, for something which seems trivial
    It happens, people misread something or misunderstand the context and before you know it, the response is frosty or returned with a block. This also leads to ghosting…
  • You will be stood up
    Dates… where do I even start, I could do a enviable sublist about this alone. Its going to happen, you will be stood up and theres no point getting angry about it, its part of single dating life.
  • It will be attracted to somebody far away
    You edit your filters to only include people so far away and then somebody you think is local pops up in the search. Maybe they are visiting friends,  living locally for a short while or just about to leave the area. It will happen at some point, how you deal with it is the question.
  • You will come across women doing gang signs or men with their tops off in photos
    Self explanatory I think? Of course if you are a woman or a gay man, expect dick pics at some point too…

The censoring and blocking inside of Iran

BBC Persian blocked

I've been wanting to blog this for quite some time now. When we think of blocking and censorship, everyone goes on about China. Well theres many other nations which have levels of censorship and blocking. So it started with the blockage of BBC Persian content in Iran, then we started to syndicate more via public RSS and Email. Then Mario wrote a Instant messenger bot which takes BBC Persian RSS feeds and republishes them on the MSN network if you subscribe to the bot (just add to your buddy list). Then Mario added support for the Jabbber network (just add to your buddy list) and tried to get YIM (Yahoo) working, as thats the most popular Instant messenging tool in Iran. Now he's trying out JRS which is a publishing tool for the XMPP (jabber) network as the Perl Yahoo module is broken or/and out of date. Then Hoder (Hossein Derakhshan) gave a good talk about censorship in Iran to the BBC.

Some observations along the way. Although right to left text should be easy with most unicode complient instant messenging clients. This simply is not the case. The markup of right to left languages is still a very difficult thing to do. Dan Brickley send a good email into the W3C internationalisation core group. I keep meaning to respond myself, but still have a draft ready which I keep rewriting. I'm happy Martin Duerst and others have read my paper from Xtech 2005. But I would like a little more clarity on Martin's reply.

In Ian's article and in Mario's messages, there is also some extent of confusion with regards to bidi. If the text in a line or paragraph contains only rtl characters, or neutral characters such as punctuation, any application is supposed to display it in the correct order. No attributes are neccessary, except for where to start the line (flush left or flush right), which can be considered a matter of taste (in mixed English/Farsi text, I wouldn't consider having all English messages flush left and all Farsi messages flush right necessarily
always the best display) and which could be handled by a switch in the user agent.

It's only when a line or paragraph mixes both rtl and ltr text where having additional information becomes really necessary, to indicate whether the text is a (e.g.) Farsi sentence with some English embedded or the other way round (or even a more complicated structure).

See this is great in theory but the practice or reality Applications don't do this correctly. Its good to see I was correct about ATOM and RSS when it comes to language support.

It very clearly shows that more thought should go into supporting internationalization markup in all kinds of document or document-like (in the sense that they use free text rather than data items) formats.

The only blog format that got that right (sic!) from the start is Atom ( Elements such as title all allow for embedded XHTML markup, which then can take a dir attribute. RSS 1.0 has a content module that could do the same thing, but I'm not sure how well it is supported.

Certainly, its hardly supported in the RSS space. ATOM is the only one which had this from the start, so all the developers who build there readers have build in the ability to have markup inside of content module including directionality.

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