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I Don't Want A Block Button

Here's why not.

By L.C. SchäferPublished 6 months ago Updated 6 months ago 3 min read
I Don't Want A Block Button
Photo by Keith Markilie on Unsplash

You know what, I'm really happy this platform doesn't have a block button. I hope Vocal never gives us one.

Here's why.

Welcome to being published

You might denigrate posting here as "not being properly published" because it's not a book. A lot of people seem to think that way. But I promise you, being published on Vocal (or anywhere like it) is "being published". Evidence: If you've published a story on here, and you try to enter that same story in a contest somewhere else where they specify it must be new material, not previously published... good luck with that.

When something is published, it's public. Everyone and his wife and his dog can see it, have an opinion on it, and voice that opinion. That's the beautiful, exciting and terrifying thing about it. Anyone can see it. Really. Anyone. Your mum. Your worst enemy. Your old high school teacher. Your neighbours. Your friends. Buy the ticket, go for the ride. Get your big boy/girl pants on. Have a strategy for dealing with the shit you don't like.

It's not supposed to be comfortable.

If you want to share your writing with a select group of people, then I get that. There are already places to do that. Your private social media pages. Small groups, in person or online.

That's not to say you have no control, here. You can have boundaries, and you should - it's healthy. You can choose to ignore people or commentary that bothers you. You can log off. You can override your need to be validated externally, and resist the urge to look for positive remarks, ones that support you or blow smoke up your bum. You can use a pen name. You can revel in obscurity, and deliberately not promote your work, or avoid sharing it in certain places.

You can also (stay with me) turn off comments. (But then again, you miss out on the positive engagement, which some just cannot abide doing.) Turning off comments is more than you can do in many public spaces, and I really don't think we need more than that. I know that is probably unpopular. I'm old enough not to care. We aren't here to be popular. (Ah, if only I could send a memo to my teenage self, that is what I would say!)

If you want positive responses, I think you need to be brave enough to weather the ones you don't like as well. Take the rough with the smooth.


I am confident there will come a day when I eat these words. When I say the wrong thing (or the right thing) and the wrong person sees it. A chain reaction happens, and I'm flooded with mean-spirited people trying to bring me down one way or another. One day, I'm sure, I'm going to think (or say out loud) "oh, I wish I could block these people".

That's an unpleasant prospect, but it's also just the risk you run when you speak publicly about anything at all. The most mundane things can draw ire from groups of people. If not now then in five or ten years. No one knows what is going to be offensive years from now. None of us are "safe". "Public" isn't safe. We aren't here to be "safe" either.

But it isn't just unpleasant. There's a sort of yin/yang dynamic, here. The day my book gets a 1 star review out there in the wild, that is the day I know I have arrived. If I'm only reaching people who know me and don't want to offend me, then I'm making no impact at all. If I'm reaching people outside my echo chamber, and they are affected enough to voice disagreement or even hatred, then I will know I am not just shouting into a void. It's the cost of being heard.

To recap, then:

We aren't here to be liked

We aren't here to be comfortable

We aren't here to be safe

We are lucky to be heard, including (especially) by the "wrong" people

So, yeah. Don't give us a block button. We don't need one. We need to cultivate a rhino skin jacket, and an awareness of when to wear it. We need to wear slippers, rather than expect the world to be carpeted for our special little feet.

By Philippe Jausions on Unsplash

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Thank you for reading! Leave me a link in the comments to a piece you were nervous about publishing, and tell me why that was hard for you 😁

If you've not seen much from me lately, here's a couple of pieces about what I've been up to:


About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Book-baby is available on Kindle Unlimited

Flexing the writing muscle

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for nudes.

Here be micros

Twitter, Insta Facey

Sometimes writes under S.E.Holz

"I've read books. Well. Chewed books."

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Comments (25)

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  • Test6 months ago

    Very interesting captivating story

  • THANK YOU to everyone for reading and commenting - sorry it[s taken me a while to catch up. Christmas was happening in our house!

  • Kenny Penn6 months ago

    Completely agree, L.C. We need to have some thick skin if we’re going to put our art into the world to be viewed and judged. Can’t please everyone!

  • Phil Flannery6 months ago

    Well, I must say I am absolutely offended at the suggestion that there is intelligent life on mars. I'm sorry. Just trying to be funny. Are Vocalists asking for such a button. I suppose it's like the mute button on my TV remote when the news comes on, it's handy. I understand the vulnerability that's felt when putting our stuff out there for everyone to see, and when I first started on Vocal, I was hesitant to share. I was insecure about my ability to write anything worthwhile, but reading others work and reading feedback has helped me relax into it. Hesitation is now, hesitantly excited. For me, and this is a little revealing, if I don't feel something from a story, I don't comment, in particular poetry. I often don't get what the writer is trying to say. For me, there are smarter people out there, more educated in the technicalities of writing who will have more constructive criticism than anything I could say. If I read it, I heart it. If I get it, I leave a comment, like this. I wouldn't use the button if it was there, unless it's the guy trying to sell me something.

  • Personally, I agree with your sentiments here, L.C. But I do recognize that we're not all here for the same reasons & that even a single negative or misunderstood comment can seem whelming. At the same time, I'm pretty sure that those who actually want to disconnect from certain people can simply ask Vocal for them to be unsubscribed (&, of course, have comments removed). As Mackenzie has already pointed out, it might be nice to be able to block the spammers & occasional bully, but beyond that I don't believe I would find it useful.

  • Grz Colm6 months ago

    Hmm, I kinda don’t agree with some of your points L.C. I think we should feel relatively safe and liked to a degree as well as feeling comfortable. I expect it depends why we are on Vocal though..some people like me have been looking for a community. I’m sure there is an assortment of reasons people are here that differ. I like the people I follow or else I wouldn’t be following them. Criticism is find though so we can agree on that. Anyhow those are my thoughts. Uh… About the block button.. it depends. I.e if there’s harassment it would perhaps be useful. Otherwise talking it out or ceasing comments on a post might do the trick.. 🤔

  • I mean there can be a block button. It could be up to us whether we wanna use it.

  • Mackenzie Davis6 months ago

    I couldn’t agree more! I would only want it for the spammers and the occasional, very rare bully. But…not for using willy nilly to avoid criticism. I want the criticism! Writing is not a safe space.

  • Great read… as I’m a reader, I find comments on stories fascinating! Love the rhino skin & slippers… very useful.✅ Being an avid reader rather than a writer (much more effort), I am extremely nervous about publishing any of my meagre pieces.😵‍💫 So grateful for others’ creativity.😍 Vocal has added variety to my reading!

  • Hannah Moore6 months ago

    I go back and forth on whether to be using my real name here or not. Largely for work related reasons. So much back and forth. But it's for me to decide. Personally, I'm a big believer in "healthy debate". I wouldn't want to silence another person. But I have heard tell of people poaching work. Those folk can fuck right off.

  • Just wanted to say thanks for illustrating a point that a lot of folks who come to writing through a place like Vocal versus the traditional publishing world tend to miss: publication is anytime the text appears in a public space. Places like Vocal, Medium, WordPress, etc. exist to provide you with an easy route to publish, host, and distribute your work. The main tradeoff being that you now lose out on the many publishers that only buy first publication rights. There are those that will take reprints, usually for lower/no payout. And even then some won't take stories available online to the public for free. Still, I've had a fairly good streak of getting older Vocal stories into print/e-books by working with a few publishers. Just need to seek them out and be very up front about your story's status.

  • lucyjb6 months ago

    this is such a great point! I totally agree.

  • Brenton F6 months ago

    Some people just don't get it! It is good to see your words grace the board once more!

  • Novel Allen6 months ago

    I shared to FB not realizing that my first attempts at writing would also be shared. I think I cried, or came close. I quickly got that rhino skin-ish. I still cringe at the though of anyone going that far back. But what the heck, what they gonna do, hire a hitman or just have a good laugh. All comments are welcome, no matter how much it smarts. humans are like that.

  • Jay Kantor6 months ago

    Hi L.C. ~ Terrific Rendition ~ We all GiT-iT Double Coincidence: - I've used a Rhino for my heading 'Pick your Battles'...Yours is more attractive - - I've just written 'Three Minute Reads' re; how we put out our 'Schtick' together...! Always fun to interact with you - Thanks for not blocking me. btw; I'm a huge 'Rachel' fan! Jay Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Village Community -

  • Rene Peters6 months ago

    I really like that way of looking at it!

  • Rachel Deeming6 months ago

    Welcome to the adult world where people can comment on your stuff and you may not like it. And your choice is that you can reply or not reply. Don't engage if it bothers you. Or deal with it in a mature way by acknowledging it and moving on. You know that rhino skin? It's less about wearing one and more about being comfortable wearing it i.e. being confident enough in who you are to weather the criticism. Not everyone will like your work. Ask yourself: Do you like everyone else's? 'Cause I don't so how can it be any different for you? Why is external approval so important? Can we not see things clearly without other people's eyes? It would seem not. I don't want or need a block button. Say what you want about my stuff. I can deal with it. I'm with this, L.C.

  • Raymond G. Taylor6 months ago

    Agree, as long as the rhino skin is just metaphoric. My experience of rhinos (only in zoos, sadly) is that they are very, very shy and timid and are inclined to run away at the first hint of discord. As authors we need to be bold. Publish (online and/or old-fashioned paper and pigment) and be damned!

  • Frankie Martinelli6 months ago

    Well said ❤️👏

  • Shirley Belk6 months ago

    I so agree! We are all grown ups. Hopefully people act with kindness and tact so there will be no need for a block. Thank you for your story! It needed to be said.

  • Test6 months ago

    Agreeing with Donna. I don't want spammers and AI following me. And if Vocal got that under control then I wouldn't want a block button either 🤍

  • Mother Combs6 months ago

    I agree with you, L.C. I don't want a block button either.

  • Donna Renee6 months ago

    I need a block button so that I can stop the f’ing scammers/spammers/AI plagiarists from commenting on my page, subscribing to me, and annoying the hell out of me. Otherwise, I don’t really disagree with you lol

  • Well written and convincing. But let me throw a different angle at you. It's not always best and unpleasant comment here or there. Or maybe someone being critical of a story you wrote, constructively critical. It's not always about somebody sharing a comment that you don't really want to see or face. But, have you ever been trolled or bullied? That's a whole different level. When you have someone who is running around the internet putting you down everywhere they can and bullying you and saying things are really aren't very nice than that's when you're going to want that block button.

  • Alexander McEvoy6 months ago

    Very interesting thoughts here, L.C.! Never thought about a block button on this site, but I agree that I don’t think we need one. First and foremost because this site is one of the very few where everyone I’ve met or seen seems united in being supportive and having fun. Out here in the semi-autonomous kingdom of the internet, that’s a damned rare thing.

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