Yes, I have a blacklist. Can you guess who’s on it?

Kamil/Shutterstock

It started with a seemingly harmless question left on my personal Facebook page.

A few weeks ago, a second-rate aviation blogger with a long history of depositing negative remarks on my sites – someone I’d never met in person – made an offhanded comment about one of my children.

As my fingers touched the keyboard to answer, I paused.

I wondered: Is that a real question, or something that’s just meant to provoke me? Why am I bothering to respond?

Why is this person even a “friend” on Facebook?

Then I remembered a recent conversation with another writer, who admitted to blocking one of his harshest critics. He said he had no regrets.

And so I tried it. I unfriended, and then blocked the blogger.

It felt good.

And that was the start of my blacklist.

I’m telling you about the list now because, when it comes to the online discussion, what we say is often as important as how we say it. Manners matter. Good manners matter. Frankly, I shouldn’t need to have a blacklist, and neither should you.

I should probably start by defining my terms. By “blacklist” I mean a select group of people who are blocked from commenting on my site or communicating with me via social media, such as Facebook or Twitter.

The ban isn’t universal across every social network, which is to say, someone might be blocked on my personal Facebook page but still have access to my “fan” page, Twitter, and be allowed to comment on my site.

So why a blacklist?

Well, I’ve been online almost since there’s been an online to be on, and I’ve always believed that you should keep the channels open at all costs – and that’s especially true in my line of work as a consumer advocate. I’ve always respected those on the company side, and it’s almost always a two-way street. Lose the respect, and you can’t do your job.

But I’ve also believed that good manners are important and have done my best to ignore so-called “trolls” who make angry comments designed to provoke an online mudslinging fest.

In the case of my first blacklist subject, I’d found a troll in my own back yard, spewing inappropriate comments about my kids.

That was an easy one.

Then I started reviewing all of my Facebook “friends” and applying the same litmus test. None of them had come after my children, but some had made derogatory comments about my cats (perhaps just as bad) or below-the-belt remarks about my advocacy work.

I blacklisted them, too.

If there was one common thread in all of my reasons for blocking and unfriending them, it was this: at the end of the day, these so-called “friends” were toxic. Their comments didn’t add anything to the discussion. Instead, they dragged everyone into the mud with their negative comments, which were often disguised as a “fact-based” challenge to a story or commentary.

But the net effect was always the same. It left readers feeling guilty for wanting basic customer service from a company, and that was intolerable.

The toxic “friends” had to go.

One of the most personally satisfying actions was blocking Twitter followers with long histories of vile comments, delivered in 140 characters or less.

There’s the loyalty-program fanboy who liked dishing out epithets from his phone – blocked! There’s the travel industry “consultant” with a never-ending string of passive-aggressive remarks – blocked! There’s another airline blogger whose site is a cesspool of negative comments about my consumer advocacy practice – blocked!

It’s quite a list.

(I’m not alone. Quite by chance, I recently discovered that I’d also been blocked by a well-known promoter of airline loyalty programs. No surprise there.)

I don’t keep a formal list of blockees. You wouldn’t even know you’re on the list unless you tried to leave a comment or tag me in a post, only to find out that you can’t.

Am I overreacting? Not for a minute. While I can tolerate the negativity – and have for many years – these users do far more damage by spreading their toxins into a healthy discussion. I can’t permit that. Never mind that they keep me from doing my job as an advocate.

Also, I believe the ability to participate in a discussion, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or this site, is a privilege. And since I can control who talks and who doesn’t, I am.

Blacklists shouldn’t be necessary. If everyone observed the same rules of engagement online as they did offline, it would fix 99 percent of the problem. But for some reason – maybe it’s a generational thing, maybe their parents just forgot to teach them manners – some folks think they can troll the Internet without consequences.

Well, there are consequences.

The takeaway for you is simple: Manners are important – maybe even more important online, where everything you write is stored indefinitely for employers, friends and relatives to see. I see too many emails to companies where the basics, like the “pleases” and “thank-yous” are omitted in favor of threats and epithets.

If you’re being ignored by a company, maybe it’s because you forgot your manners. Maybe you’re being blocked.

And if a consumer advocate is blacklisting you, maybe you need to go back to etiquette school.

Should I have a blacklist?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend