“THE LEVEL of adulation for you on your Facebook page has gone up a lot lately. Have you noticed that?” a friend of mine recently messaged me. “Absolutely,” I replied. “It’s because I’ve blocked anyone who disagrees.” Hey, at least I’m honest.
Facebook is a bit of a fantasy playground anyway—let’s face it, the vast majority of these “friends” won’t be there for you when you really need them—so I’ve long felt that I should weed my page at will to make it my ultimate fantasy: a dizzying circle jerk without fear of putdown or repudiation. There are enough challenges in the real world and enough people to tell you “No” or “You’re wrong” to your face, so why not turn your social networking venue into a tightly enforced ego boost that will quiet the low self-esteem voice in your head while stroking you as a legend who’s always right about every little thing? It’s a new, self-aggrandizing twist on “Get off my lawn!” though the banish-ees don’t see it coming and usually don’t even realize they’ve been blocked for some time, so what’s the harm?
The weird aspect of this censoring reflex is that, as I’ve written before, we depend on interaction to be buoyed, educated, and charged. We need to communicate to feel less isolated and get over our trepidations about being a minority and potential outcasts. Without my years of club-going with other lgbtq’s, I wouldn’t have felt nearly as connected to the community, and I didn’t even used to totally mind the annoying people that filled out the crowd. I devoted some of my old Village Voice columns to “The 10 Biggest Nightmares in NYC Nightlife” in all their fabulous horror. But now I was running from anyone that seemed loony—including some gays—rather than examining their damaged edge or trying to get a kick out of their otherness.
Michael Musto is a longtime columnist and commentator who has written four books, including Downtown (1986) and Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back (2014).