‘Unfollowing’ people on social media
I recently unfollowed up to a hundred people on Twitter, and maybe fifty people on Instagram. They are the only two social media websites/apps I use regularly.
I unfollowed people for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I was no longer interested in what they were posting. People often want to unfollow people for a variety of reasons, including:
- Posting things that make them jealous. Boyfriends, food, gym workouts, nice clothes, photos of their trip to another country, etc.
- ‘Spamming’, or basically doing a running commentary of their life that is boring, useless, flooding your feed and making you miss what you really want to read, or posting things you don’t even understand because it sounds like they are talking to themselves.
- They post the same thing on every social media site you follow them on.
- Complaining some more.
- Posting the same things over and over in the hope they get noticed.
- Posting memes, quizzes or quotes that are not interesting or irrelevant.
The problem is, not many people end up unfollowing because they feel some kind of obligation. You might be someone’s friend, if you unfollow them you might have to request to follow them again because their account is private, they are following you or friended with you so you feel like you should remain friends with them… the list basically goes on. Then they become unhappy with the ‘crap’ they are seeing on their feed. No one is stopping them from unfollowing someone.
Following people is opt-in. It means that you make the choice to follow. You make the choice to add them to your feed. You are likely following someone because you made the choice in the first place.
I listened to a podcast recently where Laura Jane Williams said, ‘Yes, I have been known to unfollow people because they are too beautiful, too annoying, too in love – and I am jealous because I am not happy with myself or because I am single.’ I believe she also made the point that sometimes these people are your friends. With the issue that people want to remain ‘friends’ with their friend but want to hide things they post, there are now features on most social media networks that allow you to still see that person’s posts, but not have them flood your feed. But ultimately, if you don’t like what someone is posting, then there is just one choice: stop following. Stop reading. Stop consuming.
The reason people have trouble just unfollowing is because they think about why they opted in, in the first place. We should change our mindset to be that of opt-out. Like unsubscribing. Imagine that someone made you follow five hundred people on Twitter whom you didn’t know. You would just unfollow everyone straight away because you know immediately that you’re not interested, right?
Let’s say we followed Angela and Tim because we liked Angela’s makeup and Tim was a funny guy. But two years later, we don’t like what Angela posts because her relationship makes us jealous, and we don’t like what Tim posts anymore because he just keeps posting quotes that makes him sound like he is complaining about his love life. Why would we keep following these two people based on how we felt about them two years ago?
If you don’t like what someone posts, unfollow, mute, unfriend, hide posts, whatever. You choose what you want to consume. I’ve known people who unfollowed everyone then selectively followed people again. If it helps to start afresh, then do. You shouldn’t follow someone just to be nice or polite.