Are we keeping ourselves (and others) ignorant by blocking people we don’t agree with?

Words by Kelly Punzalan

There’s been all this talk lately around removing toxic people and negativity from your life, perhaps influenced by Marie Kondo’s philosophy of getting rid of things that no longer spark joy. Initially, I agreed with this sentiment especially if it’s to protect one’s stress levels and mental well-being. Seeing people proudly share their problematic unpopular opinions (that are unpopular for good reason) definitely does not bring joy and are just headache-inducing. I understand why people don’t want to have that “bad energy” around them. In fact, I’ve unfriended and unfollowed plenty of people because I could no longer stand their hot takes on controversial topics. I realized, though, that I’ve been purging my friends and followers list without even letting those people know why their statements were harmful and ill-informed.

ALSO READ: It might be time to ‘Marie Kondo’ your friends and ask which ones ‘spark joy’

 

While the KonMari method may work well for inanimate objects, it’s not always the best to apply it to our relationships with people. I know it’s frustrating when they announce their ignorant opinions, but before you curse them out, maybe consider why they have that opinion in the first place? They were exposed to a different environment whether it’s at home, at school, or in the workplace. The majority of Filipinos are Catholics and had a religious upbringing, so it makes sense that some women here suffer from internalized misogyny. Disappointing, but it makes sense. Let’s also not forget that countless Filipinos are deprived of high-quality education, which may be a reason for their ignorance on some issues.

Acting hostile from the very beginning will guarantee that they’ll purposely cover their ears and won’t listen to a single word you say, no matter how well thought out your arguments are. Nobody likes feeling dumb or singled out. If we make them feel like they’re being attacked, we’re already isolating them and the chance of us changing their minds or at the very least, giving them something to ponder over, significantly drops.

There are exceptions, of course, like if keeping ties with that person puts you in danger or in a difficult situation. Or maybe you’ve already tried to have a mature conversation but they simply don’t listen and are too stubborn. Worst case scenario, you’re talking to a troll who just wants to get you riled up and doesn’t even care about whatever you’re arguing about. I’m not saying you should tire yourself out by killing both them and yourself with kindness. Sometimes, it really is a lost cause and all you can do is delete them from your life forever.

While it’s incredibly easy to block someone and never think about them ever again, by tuning and filtering people out, we create an echo chamber of people who share the same exact opinions, essentially just stroking each other’s egos, and we keep other people in the dark. We won’t be able to strike discourse with those who have opposing opinions and in turn, we can’t educate them if their facts are wrong or they’re being insensitive. And sometimes, we might be the insensitive ones but we can’t keep ourselves in check since the only people we keep up with online are exactly like us. As long as there’s even a small chance that we can change someone’s perspective and they’re willing to keep an open mind, I think we should at least try. It can be a good thing for us as well to challenge ourselves.

Have you blocked friends or relatives on social media over differences in beliefs?

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