I blocked a friend of over a decade because of a comment she made at a party.
I wanted to remove all toxic people from my life, so started blocking people online.
In the process, I became toxic myself.
It was 2017, and I was at a kids' pool party my friend had put together for her son. All the presents had been opened, and now the kids were running around the backyard in their bathing suits. Pool noodle fights were everywhere.
I was chatting with the other moms. My friend walked over to me, rubbing her forehead. "Phoebe, you need to take your son home. He's making too much noise."
I was a little surprised. "Um, OK," I said as I walked over to my son and told him to grab his towel. My friend continued to avoid eye contact as we walked out of her backyard.
I blocked her on Facebook
I was acutely aware that my son was the only child with autism at the party. I know that his sudden hand-flapping movements and echoing language can be disconcerting to people. It hurt my heart.
As we walked past the "Hate has no home here" sign in my friend's front yard and headed toward the car, I saw how sad my son was. I felt a surge of rage. My friend was now blocked. BLOCKED! On all the damn platforms.
As soon as we arrived home, I logged into Facebook and blocked my friend. Our 10-year friendship was now finished. I instantly felt relief. I was proud of myself at that moment. I was getting rid of toxic people in my life.
Years later, however, I realized that had been a huge mistake.
The more I blocked people, the more toxic I became
After blocking my friend, I suddenly saw how so many of my relationships had become toxic.
I blocked toxic person after toxic person. Oddly, however, despite cutting all these toxic people out of my life, I didn't seem to get any peace of mind. On the contrary, the more I cut ties with former friends, the more angry I got. I was irritable and convinced that I probably had to block more people if I wanted to feel calm.
The more toxic people I cut from my life, the more toxic I became.
It became ridiculous. I was arguing online with some old high school friends about whether the Gringotts goblins in "Harry Potter" were antisemitic. Everyone in the comment thread was disagreeing with me and I couldn't take it anymore. I reached for the "block" button, and stopped myself. What the hell was I doing?
I was treating old friends like they were trolls. None of this was worth ending relationships.
I now have a no-block policy
I have now realized that cutting "toxic people" out of my life was doing damage to my mental health. I had let my anger isolate me and my son. After I blocked my friend on Facebook following the pool party incident, my son never played with her child again.
Why had I blocked my friend without even a conversation with her to resolve the issue? Why did I prefer to sacrifice my friendship so that my victimhood status remained unblemished? Why didn't I want to keep the friendship, even if that meant acknowledging that maybe my son had perhaps been a little loud at the party?
I now have a strict "no block" policy when it comes to my friends. I am pushing myself toward more real-life face-to-face interactions instead of online arguments. I am trying to re-strengthen old friendships that I have been neglecting, and — most importantly — I am realizing that disagreement is not abuse.
Being imperfect humans is not the same as being toxic. It is time we all recognize this before we wither in our self-inflicted loneliness.
Read the original article on Business Insider