Sunday Reflections: Boyfriends, Breakups and Blocking – Oh My! Talking with teens about a different type of access
As a librarian, I spend a lot of time talking about teens and access. Access to books. Access to information. I’m all about access. And then a new discussion of access came up and I had a decidedly different message for my teens.
Three of my teens are sitting in the Teen MakerSpace and each one of them have recently been broken up with. One of them felt sudden and without explanation to the heartbroken teen. Not only was said teen “dumped”, but the boy blocked them on all social media and asked them not to talk to them at all.
So here sat these teens, discussing how unfair that was and what the rules to blocking someone on social media were. Their argument was that there had to be some reason, some explanation, and some type of real violation.
It was here that I interjected as someone that they were talking with that just because you want access to a person, their time, their social media, did not mean that they owed it to you. People can block people or decline social media requests for whatever reason they wish and, though it may be difficult to deal with, they don’t owe us an explanation. We are not automatically granted access to other people’s time, space, thoughts, or attention. No matter how much we may want it.
And no matter how much it may help us deal with the loss and heartbreak, we aren’t even owed a reason for why someone is breaking up with us. They just get to opt out because that’s what they want to do. And yes, it hurts and it’s hard, but it’s the truth. In the end, I hope everyone breaks up with kindness and preferably in person, but we can’t control the actions of others. And we’re left to deal with our pain on our own.
The summer after I graduated high school my long term boyfriend broke up with me and the reason was simple, I just wasn’t “fun anymore.” Dagger to the heart. It burned, it truly did. I did not cope well with this loss. But the young man who broke up with me owed me nothing. He was kind enough to answer a few calls from me, and I’m not sure if that made things better or worse, but it was a kindness he did not owe me.
This idea, however, that there are rules about who gets to block whom were interesting to me. But at the end of the day, I don’t think you automatically get access to someone, and I bet there are a lot of teens (and adults!) who need to be having these discussions in this era of social media.
So for possibly the first time in my life as a librarian, I found myself arguing in favor of the right to deny someone access. Welcome to 2017.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network