Essentially, both events have culminated in me losing internet 'friends'. I've had that experience on Facebook before, but what made these moments especially significant is that both individuals in these cases had been people I had been friendly with in the UK before I emigrated more than ten years ago.
In one case, an entirely open, unambiguous and genuinely innocent question was completely misinterpreted by someone, who then, using the Facebook 'chat' facility, launched into a really rather vicious attack on me and absolutely refused to listen to reason or any explanations. Basically I had asked this lady a question about an event we had attended as part of a team, and the response - some three weeks later - was explosive in its vitriolic nastiness, even to the point of previous conversations on 'chat' being pasted in with deeply unpleasant comments attached. The interaction became irrational to the point of me being rather alarmed and ultimately the lady flung some more insults my way. When I finally gave in to my indignation and objected to her conduct, she blocked me. It didn't end there; matters culminated in this person contacting my wife on email and attempting to sow the seeds of destruction for my marriage with blatant lies, none of which have or had any evidence to justify them. That someone would feel so enraged as to do this - to reach out and try to effectively ruin my life - was shocking.
The second 'incident' arose from a post I made on Facebook, the content of which was subsequently questioned by an online friend. This person took exception to one of my comments, and asked me a question about it - basically asking for a Yes/No response. I responded with a Yes/No and out of necessity as well as a desire to be clear that we were not at odds with each other in the way he had assumed, explained where we may actually have been speaking about different things. That friend then blocked me without a reply, question or explanation.
So...here's my first issue with this 'blocking' thing. Firstly, it's a tool people seem to use when they don't want to hear someone else's point of view - to which my subsequent question is; why have a conversation in the first place? Is the point of conversation to have a monologue (in which case; blog, don't use 'chat') or is it to only hear agreement (in which case, only speak to people you know will agree with you) or is it to convince someone else that you are right and they are wrong? If it's the latter, refusing to listen to someone will never allow you to win an argument, discussion or debate. Learn to agree to disagree if you must, but refusing to hear someone else's viewpoint or explanation is censorship of ideas, and can lead only to bigotry. Nobody is right all of the time.
Secondly, has the word 'friend' lost its meaning? Since when did 'friend' rely on each party agreeing with one another on every subject? Never, in my experience - heck; if my friends agreed with me about everything I'd probably have trouble finding things to talk about that were worth talking about. I enjoy an exchange of perspectives and opinion, in fact it's the main reason why I use Facebook these days. Does this, I wonder, make me an oddball? Just because we disagree, does that mean we can't enjoy other facets of a friendship?
Does that sound a little draconian? I hope not, because in my world that would more accurately reflect the REAL world; somewhere I inhabit and where I can count on less than all my digits the people I count as a true friend (people I trust implicitly and can rely upon), a lot more with whom I am 'friendly' (whose company I enjoy but with whom my relationship has not yet matured to 'true friend' level), and even more whom I consider to be mere acquaintances (people I know but have little or no social interaction with).
Perhaps it's time we all started to be a little more circumspect about who we invite to be our online 'friends'...I know that I certainly am. There may be a few things to learn for those of us with several hundred internet 'buddies'...because common sense tells me this; there's no way that they all feel benevolently about you...I have found that out to my cost.
Be careful my friends...acquaintances...strangers.