Somewhere within the rise of social media and of online-based careers, accepting that there will always be warriors lurking behind keyboards who, for whatever reason, feel it’s their right to piss on your chips became a part and parcel of the industry. Frankly, even those of us who are not trolls and wouldn’t dream of leaving a shitty comment or sending a judgemental DM are often guilty of the love to hate follows; those faces that we get a kick out of snooping on, only to later bitch about what they’re up to. Something that I have always been a big advocate of – whether you’re an Instagrammer by career, by hobby or by ‘haven’t even bothered to upload a profile pic yet‘ – is making use of that big blue unfollow button the moment someone isn’t floating your boat.
Make your feed your space
Your Instagram feed is your space. It’s what is so magical about social media; you are entirely in control of the people you interact with and the type of content you choose to consume. That means that if you love beautiful travel imagery from far flung destinations you’ll probably never visit, you can be transported there at any time of day. If you’ve got a bit of an obsession with puppies then feel free to scroll through snaps of the fluffy little woofers to your hearts content. With so many millions and millions of users on Instagram, every niche is catered for. So what are you doing following someone that you’re not even interested in?
I do appreciate that to an extent there are the odd obligation follows. If you exile your cousin/boss/friend who won’t stop letting their baby record Instagram stories, then you’re probably not going to be in the good books, but in reality these are relatively few and far between. Instagram is rumoured to be rolling out a ‘mute’ function (a bit like the one available on Facebook) which takes care of any truly sticky situations in which unfollowing just wouldn’t be appropriate.
Contrary to popular belief, unfollowing is rarely a malicious action. If someone isn’t tickling your fancy then just remember that there are millions of other users out there who might. Sometimes it’s simply a case of growing up a bit – we all change, be it in tastes, in fashion, in confidence or direction and expecting everyone to grow with you is naive. A fashion blogger whose recommendations may used to have been gospel to you might now fall on deaf ears. And you know what? That’s totally cool. The reality is that in a way you’re doing them a favour because there’s no benefit in an unengaged audience of silent scrollers.
Unfollow anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself
We’ve all gone for a little scroll sat at home in saggy pyjamas, a greasy topknot and a sudocrem face mask feeling like a bit of a tit in comparison to the gorgeous people swanning about online with their Gucci belts that cost two weeks rent in bouji places. On those days it’s probably best to just put your phone away, stop putting cream intended for a baby’s arse on your chin and snuggle down with Ryan Gosling. A bit of envy now and then is normal and totally okay. Following people who make you feel like you just banged your funny bone every time they pop up, is not.
Here are some reasons I’ve unfollowed people before because they made me feel bad: when I was actually really jealous of them and could feel it turning into resentment, when I felt like they were probably involved in bad practice and it made me as irate as when people stand on the left hand side of the tube escalators, when I found the things they were saying or doing triggering.
If you’re about to be mean…
To be honest, I really can’t believe that its even necessary to write this bit. I will never, ever understand why anyone – let alone a grown adult – thinks it’s appropriate to send abuse or share judgement on a total stranger’s life. Thankfully I’ve never been subject to such cruel behaviour, but I know so many who have. The extreme lengths some will go to is borderline frightening and whilst the usual platitudes of ‘ignoring it’ or remembering that ‘they’re just jealous’ or ‘have low self-esteem’ may stand true, there is no justification. ‘Influencers’ are not a public service. They’re human beings just like you and I and just as you wouldn’t go up to your colleague at work and tell her that her latest project was a pile of cat sick or tell a stranger on the street that her make-up looks like it was applied by a blind chinchilla (and if you would, for the love of god seek help), you have no right to share such vicious views with a stranger who chooses to live their life online. If you have an issue with what someone is doing then there are two options: politely message to explain why [insert grievance here] upset you – they may genuinely not be aware anyone would take offence – or unfollow. Slink away quietly, go about your day and let them go about theirs.
Love to hate follows
Come on, we’ve all done it, whether it’s out of sheer nosiness or with the more toxic intention of relishing in an opportunity to whinge about someone we think is a bit of a tit. Following people that you have no intention of ever engaging with or being nice to is just such a waste of everybody’s time. We’re not in year 9 anymore and there’s just no need to even care what someone else is up to if you feel any ounce of disdain towards them. At best, it’s wasted energy spent on negativity, and at worst it makes you a bit of a swamp donkey.
Taking part in social media is a choice, as are the faces you choose to fill your online space with. In these busy lives we lead, make your feed a happy little bubble full of inspiring people. Frankly, if you’ve got time to spend behaving negatively online then you should probably take up knitting.
Be Kind Always Tee (amazing small biz!)