So we can’t all like each other. That would be ridiculous. The grown-up way of dealing with this situation is to be civil and polite; not hold grudges and behave nicely.
In life, it’s generally fairly easy to avoid people to whom one has taken a dislike. Even that horrible clique of school gate mums that always fall silent as you approach: you can stand away from them and avoid them. I’ve done this in the past, while seething inwardly at their base lack of manners, of course. If you take a dislike to someone, quite often the feeling is mutual and you simply tacitly arrange to gravitate in another direction entirely. No harm done, seething kept to a minimum.
It’s a little more awkward when someone on whom you’re not particularly keen for some reason takes a shine to you. But it’s fine. You can be civil and polite and hope that your lack of shared interests and in commons will eventually cause continental drift between you and that not spectacularly well-liked person.
On social media it’s easy. If someone gets on your nerves by, I don’t know, constantly tweeting the same political propaganda and nothing else; our by only ever retweeting stuff and never engaging in normal conversation or butting in irrelevantly on your conversations to scold you for your views or posting only stuff about how they are enjoying a marvellous boozy weekend at their exotic holiday home with the girls whilst you’re at home ensconced in your mundane daily routine it’s really simple. Muting is great because they don’t know you’re doing it until you are suddenly faced with everyone else on your social circle knowing about, say, their recent grandchild’s first word or their child’s place at Oxford. Then it’s easy to be caught out.
If they get on your nerves a bit more and you find little common ground, you can unfollow people. Now, this should be innocuous, because you’re simply returning to the state you enjoyed before you followed them, but sadly it seems to throw up all sorts of difficulties and is considered by many as an insult.
If someone unfollows me, I’m a bit sad for a while but conclude that I simply wasn’t someone’s cup of tea. Chances are, then, that they won’t be mine. If I unfollow someone. it’s generally because they are really getting on my nerves or I find their particular brand of constant tribal politics tiresome. This is not to say that I unfollow everyone with different political views from my own: firstly, I’m never really sure of my political views and where would be the discourse, the learning experience, in that? It’s more how people make me feel. My general thoughts on this are these: if you probably wouldn’t be friends with someone outside of Twitter or Facebook then it’s reasonable to think that you’re not likely to be friends on them. This view is not uncontroversial, by any means.
Sadly some people take unfollowing so hard, so personally, that they end up blocking. Which is their prerogative. I have blocked odious people before and I’ve on occasion blocked people because I don’t want them to see my tweets and engage in scolding lectures at me. Or because, having unfollowed them, they’ve scanned my timeline or blog and then been rude about me. That sort of thing I think, is quite puerile but hey, who is perfect in life?
This is all well and good. We can distance ourselves from people we don’t like; we are not forced to tolerate the views of people we find odious on social media. But what if someone we find intolerable, who finds us intolerable is a member of our close family? What then? The answer is that, realising we are not someone’s cup of tea, and for the sake of family harmony and to ease the stress caused to others in the family, we are civil and maintain a friendly veneer. But what happens when, realising the possible stress in a evening spent in each other’s company, when both of us would rather NOT be in the same room, one person decides to break that unspoken rule of civility? What if even the thought of addressing the other person becomes so odious and stressful to them that it is constantly tainted with barely concealable aggression?
And what then happens if the recipient of this ire has, over a period of years or decades, come to expect this treatment? What if the expectation of every encounter is that it will be a sour, bitter one? That becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Now, it’s true that the recipient of this anger and aggression should try and rise above it and, as MsDD advises, grow a thicker skin. But it’s a shame that often it’s the same person has to make all the compromises, no? And finds herself awake at 4.30 the next morning fretting about it?
I think that’s quite sad.