‘Unfollowing’ people on social media

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.
  • Complaining.
  • They post the same thing on every social media site you follow them on.
  • Complaining.
  • 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.

Comments on this post

I recently started making the shift to following only the people I was interested in. I was following a friend of mine (who is also my housemate) and I just… couldn’t stand seeing so much from her. Living with her, same school, same work, and then all over my social feeds. It was too much! I don’t dislike her–I simply disliked seeing so much of her. #introvert

I think my lack of interest in what someone posts about is definitely my #1 reason I unfollow. #2 is because they post vague/subtext-y/whiny/complain-y things that make me roll my eyes until I get a headache. :P

I’ve contemplated unfollowing everyone or starting a new Twitter account to make my timeline rich again. I want to scroll down my feed and be able to engage in what I see, rather than blindly going past everything.

My solution to something like that is to mute the account instead. I still follow them, they don’t get upset I unfollowed but I don’t see their feed anymore.

I feel like you captured both sides of how I feel in one post! I can never figure out this “social network etiquette.” It’s like on every social networking site, people expect you to follow them back because they’re doing you some sort of favor by upping your follower count. Weird, right?

I think it’s refreshing to go the opt-out method. If you spend as much time browsing these sites as much as I do, opting out is an absolute must! And honestly, I don’t think I can take seeing 6 or 7 selfies a day on someone’s IG just because they’re my friend or I know them personally. 😂 The follow button should represent the idea that you’re interested in what they have to say/show.

I think you make a great point about changing our mindset to opt out and that the reason we followed people in the first place may not hold true anymore. It’s funny because in your entry about unsubscribing, I was all about unsubscribing from any emails I didn’t want anymore. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to apply the same thing to unfollowing. I rarely do it.

I think it’s because social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Deviantart have such easy ways to follow people but control what you see from them. Instagram and Tumblr don’t offer such things, so I end up unfollowing people from those instead. It’s interesting how some sites add ways to mute people. It kind of defeats the point of following someone, but like you said, I guess most people feel an obligation to keep following certain people. The unfollow drama that happens sometimes is ridiculous!

I really needed to hear that today, thank you – I’ve been working on tidying up my online presence, my social media accounts and the feeling of guilt for unfllowing someone I’ve known for years was immense. Yu’ve helped ease some of that sensation. AGain, thank you

You’re welcome, Elia! Glad this made you feel less guilty. :)

Doing a massive unfollow is good for the soul and decluttering. One of the biggest reason is probably the whole “spammy” part where people either talk too much about pointless things or it’s one of those niche accounts taking things too far. I’ve heard of people unfollowing others because of the tweets that makes them jealous. I didn’t know jealousy is a huge factor- I welcome people who are more happier and successful than me. ~~~ I am confused ~~~

Going back to your post, yes, yes, and yes! Don’t feel obligated to follow someone “just ’cause”. This whole social media concept is starting to get easier to wrap around. Follow who you want to see feed from and won’t get any anger triggers or anything like that. ~positive people = positive life~

I just unfollow people if they post too much, but what I can’t really do is unfriend my family because they get up in arms about it. I refuse to have Facebook equal my love for my family. That’s why I cut them down or unfollow or just don’t even friend them. Don’t want any drama because of it, and I have learned the hard way, too. Post was very insightful and again something I learned the hard way, but it is learned.

I used to feel guilty about unfollowing people, but I’ve realized that you shouldn’t force yourself to do something just because you feel obligated to. I’ve recently unfollowed a lot of people on Instagram because they either post content I’m not interested in, it bores me, it’s spammy, insulting (unfollowed someone the other day for posting something homophobic), and I don’t feel like their interests are relevant to mine. I used to follow just about everyone for no purpose, but I had to filter a lot of stuff out for the above reasons. I just don’t think it’s worth following just anyone unless you can relate or you’re keen about their content.

Ah, someone unfollowed me many years ago because I said something that someone read as fat-shaming. I made a comment about a girl wearing something inappropriate and I honestly didn’t mean anything by it and didn’t mean to hurt anyone, but she was obviously so offended she blocked me everywhere and started saying nasty things about me. From the other end, I was obviously butthurt, but well, it was her decision. Likewise I don’t expect anyone to like my decisions for unfollowing them or even refusing to ‘follow back’, but it’s not a game, it’s personal preference.

I recently unfollowed a lot of people on my twitter too – I didn’t like some of the spam I was reading or negative things like news (I don’t read the news anymore I’ve also unlike them on Facebook because I dont like how sad they make me after I read them) and the reasons you said above!

I think a lot of people including me, hesitate when I unfollow someone mainly because of that obligation to follow back just because they’ve upped your follower count. It doesn’t bother much anymore but I remember feeling almost guilty!!

Thoroughly agree with you, Pauline. I stopped reading the news because a lot of it is ‘doom and gloom’ and doesn’t really add to what we need to know.

I have gained a lot of Twitter followers because people enjoy what I post, I know that because some people have followed me for years without me ever following them back. And they interact with me too, so it’s not like they mind.

You should certainly never feel guilty if you unfollow/unsubscribe or un-whatever from someones feed, because it is your choice. Personally, I would not be offended if people did that to me because I would never want to make them feel like they have to follow.

Ugh, this post is so true. Why should we waste our time reading posts we don’t want to? I don’t use Twitter much so it’s not an issue. Facebook however, I’ve definitely ‘hidden’ a few people from my feed (well, ‘unfollowed’ them). They are still my friend, but I don’t want to see their posts, because what they post is basically spam, and annoying lol.

I’ve gotten better with unfollowing people over the years, but this mindset you describe is so true. For example, I’m friends with pretty much all of my family on Facebook, but I have a couple members that have VERY different political views. Thankfully for the “unfollow from news feed” option allows me to still be friends with them (as to avoid drama), but I don’t have to see their posts.

It’s funny though in the past whenever I do a social media friend clean up I find myself removing people who are barely active, but then I have to realize that they aren’t the ones that get my frustrated with the content on my feeds – it’s the people who ARE active. Then I have to evaluate how much (or little) I want to see of their stuff.

Hahah that is quite funny, I ended up unfollowing people on Twitter who had not posted in more than three years (2013! Wow!). I didn’t have a problem with them but I also didn’t see the point in following them if they were inactive.