You know the feeling. You’re scrolling through your latest Instafollow results. You see that a few complete strangers have unfollowed you. No big deal since you don’t know who they are and you were getting really annoyed by their cat posts anyway. But then you see that one of your friends, who you’ve known for 5 years, has just unfollowed you. You’re perplexed because you just had dinner with this friend a couple weeks ago and feel like your friendship is in a good place. If this person is your friend, it’s an unspoken rule that they have to follow you on social media. You immediately start fuming and scrolling back through your latest posts to see if anything you’ve shared may have offended this person. Maybe you didn’t interact enough with their posts. But come on, when you have 5,000 followers, you can’t possibly be expected to like everyone’s photos. You open up your messages intent on texting to ask why he or she unfollowed you. But you don’t press send. Because you feel kind of ridiculous, and you’re unsure if this is important enough to text about. You don’t know if you should talk about your social media world in real life. So you erase the text. And the next time this person asks if you want to hang out, the recent unfollowing is hanging in the back of your mind. A pesky reminder that your friendship has digital limits. Things will never be the same.
Have you been here? Have you ever questioned why we care so much about who is and isn’t following us?
"Outside of Facebook, social media is an international popularity contest that’s like high school on steroids."
Outside of Facebook, social media is an international popularity contest that’s like high school on steroids. We always want to have a desirable ratio; our value determined by having more followers interested in our content than those we’re interested in. We want our photos and videos to be liked and commented on. We want to share a curated view of our lives with the world, and more than anyone, we expect friends and family to be unconditionally supportive of this whether we’re sharing a gym selfie or humble bragging about our latest purchase. When a stranger decides to leave the fray, we are unshaken and unbothered. But when a friend clicks the unfollow button, it puts the whole relationship in limbo.
So there’s two questions to examine here. Should it matter that someone has unfollowed us on social media? And should we say something about it?
With most people, I lean toward the school of thought that it shouldn’t matter. If someone chooses to unfollow me, fuck ‘em. There’s no room on this bus for people who aren’t supportive of the movement. I’d rather have them hate me from afar than silently resent me while staying embedded in the most intimate details of my life. An acquaintance of mine recently unfriended me on Facebook. In the first moments of realizing the online connection had fizzled, I was furious. But I then realized it was for the better. If I shared something that he didn’t agree with, then by all means, he had every right to leave. And he won’t be missed.
"If someone chooses to unfollow me, fuck ‘em. There’s no room on this bus for people who aren’t supportive of the movement."
But I know it’s not as easy for some of you. When a friend, co-worker, or family member that you really like decides to silence your feed, it’s not an easy pill to swallow. It means that they really didn’t like something about what you posted. Maybe posting 12 new photos at once was a bit too much. Maybe you shared one too many shirtless selfies. Maybe you didn’t need to post a photo of EVERY drink from last night. However, the one thing you have to remember is everyone’s not going to like you in real life. And everyone’s not going to like your content. It’s just life.
The biggest piece of advice that I can offer is: GET OVER IT.
And then there’s the question of whether or not you should say something. It really depends. And most times you shouldn’t. If it’s a co-worker or even less connected professional acquaintance, don’t address it. Most people would love to have an easy way out when it comes to work relationships on social media. When you leave the office, you don’t want to spend your precious social media time scrolling through selfies of your boss. Especially not after a bad day at work. So keep your disappointment to yourself and be grateful for a little untangling of your work and personal lives.
"This isn’t a situation where someone has betrayed your trust or insulted you. Save the anger for a time when you really need it. "
When it comes to friends and family, you have two options. You can revenge unfollow. This passive aggressive approach ensures you never have to talk about it. When you see each other, you can actually spend that time genuinely catching up instead of awkwardly retreading all the happenings from IG. OR you can call them out. But don’t be confrontational. This isn’t a situation where someone has betrayed your trust or insulted you. Save the anger for a time when you really need it. Just get some insight into their decision. Maybe one of your posts really pissed them off. Or maybe one of your less technologically adept friends didn’t even realize they unfollowed you. You never know. But for the sake of your friendship’s future, you need to ask.
So there you have it. Your social media following is not indicative of your worth or the importance of a role you play in someone’s life. It’s simply a matter of taste. The definition of good content is subjective. Just because you connect with someone in real life doesn’t mean your chemistry will spill over to social media. Don’t take it to heart even if it’s someone close to you. Either hashtag it out or worry about something important. Like how to get more likes from the people who are still following you.