Why it’s Okay to Unfollow

I was flicking through my Instagram feed the other day.  It’s a strange mix.  There are the sporadic posts from friends and family (including my Dad; whose Instagram theme includes scribbling lines over Google Maps to show the world where he’s been walking), random pet accounts (cute!), mixed in with some online friends, beautiful bloggers and bakers – y’know for a bit of daily inspo.  (Oh.  And unavoidable adverts.  Ugh.)  I scrolled down – liking, saving, commenting – and then, I got stuck.

Wait.  Who the hell’s that?  Oh.  The account of a friend of a friend who followed me and I – politely – followed back.  Another grainy gram of a night out with some friends I didn’t know in a bar I didn’t recognise.  Why was I still following him?  Enough was enough. I clicked through to his profile page and my thumb hovered over the The Blue Button of Doom… but then something stopped me.

I felt guilty. Guilty about unfollowing. After all, they were still following me. So wouldn’t it be rude to cut and run? A prime example of poor netiquette? A sort of virtual dine and dash? I mean, by pressing that button you’re basically sending the message to that person, “I’m not interested in you anymore. Buh-bye!” Never mind the fact that they might be a virtual stranger or that you’ve never spoken beyond a couple of comments with emojis, it feels cold and cruel to hit that button. All of us have been on the other side of this at some point, so we can relate; we know how it feels when someone blue buttons us. It stings a little, and you’re left wondering what tweet, which instagram or snapchat was it that finally pushed them out the door.

Think about it. How many people are you following on various social media platforms that you’d quite like to ditch but don’t because you feel guilty? Those polite follow-backs, friend of a friends, old school friends you haven’t spoken to in a hundred years. How many tweets and Instagrams do you eyeroll your way through every single day just to scroll to the people you actually care about, to the content that makes a difference to your day?

Social media has become such a massive part of our every day lives. Scrolling Instagram is the first thing I do in the morning (or at least it used to be pre-puppy!) and the last thing I do at night, and like it or not, those internet relationships we forge through social media are becoming just as important and as valuable as our “real life” ones. They matter. So why are we hanging on to the ones that don’t – the ones that don’t excite, inspire or interest us – just because we feel bad for unfollowing? Would we waste our time like that offline?

I hope this isn’t coming across as bitchy or cold, it’s meant to be the exact opposite. I’d rather have a feed that’s full of mutual, meaningful relationships and content that I value and feel inspired by, than one clogged up with names I don’t recognise and content I don’t care about.  Wouldn’t you?  And it goes the other way too; don’t keep me on your feed and in your life because you feel like you have to, keep me there because you want to.

We need to shed the guilt about unfollowing someone, just as we need to learn to either ignore or live with that sting we feel when someone unfollows us.  It might feel personal, but it’s not.  Not really.  The relationship never got personal.  They didn’t get you, and that’s okay.  Hitting that blue button from time to time (and being blue-buttoned) is a necessary part of finding your tribe. 🙂

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16 thoughts on “Why it’s Okay to Unfollow

    1. I hate the whole etiquette around following and unfollowing (obviously not talking about the follow/unfollow game on instagram – THAT SUCKS). We shouldn’t feel guilty for unfollowing people we just haven’t clicked or conversed with in forever. Life’s too short 🙂

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  1. Thank you so much for writing this! I always feel awful unfollowing people – especially since there are so many people who follow just to unfollow and I don’t want to be seen as that – but if your posts aren’t ones that I interact with anyway, what is the point of me following you?

    I want my feed to be filled with photos that inspire me and make me happy, which is exactly how I live my life too. You don’t have to keep anyone in your life that you don’t want to – even on social media!

    http://www.thesmalladventurer.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. Thanks for commenting – glad you liked! I always feel so guilty too but the other day I found myself with so many people on my feed that it was becoming a chore just to scroll through! 🙂

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  2. I think in all the moaning about the follow/unfollow game it’s become kind of taboo to unfollow! But as you say, that’s silly. As long as you’re doing it because you don’t like the content/you’ve never interacted with that person etc it’s totally fine. I’m a guilt-free unfollower 🙂

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    1. Gah! I hate the follow/unfollow game – it’s so shady! But you’re right, I think it’s definitely had a hand in turning unfollowing in general into some sort of a crime.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this – it is definitely something we can all relate to nowadays. I think what stops me is definitely the guilt, I feel bad (for some reason) when a random person unfollows me – even worse when it is somebody I know. I never want to be ‘that’ person. It is all such silly etiquette like you say! xxx

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    1. Thanks for commenting 🙂 Definitely – we can relate to how it feels when someone unfollows us; it leaves a bit of a sour taste especially when it’s someone you thought you connected with.

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  4. I just discovered your blog, thanks to Ella’s latest post, and have absolutely loved exploring your blog! I’m (perhaps controversially) someone who’s quite happy to hit ‘unfollow’ when the moment’s gone. The social stigma around unfollowing people definitely needs to be broken, as rationally there’s no need to feel guilty about unfollowing someone who – in all likelihood – will never even notice your absence. Looking forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much, glad to have you on board! 🙂 I’ve followed you back – I’m a huge Francophile so I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading about your adventures in France!

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      1. Plenty of adventures in France to come yet, though the time is flying by and before I know it I’ll be living in the UK once more! Also, I loved your tip about free wallpaper samples, I’ll have to look into that when I have a UK address again!

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  5. I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve found all kinds of pages I followed and thought “What the heck.” A lot of them turned out to be these I rather not see since, I guess, some people change what the post to get more likes. I have no guilt when I unfollow. Sometimes, I feel I can’t do it quick enough.

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