The Politics Of Unfollowing Someone On Social Media

I did not know there was an app that could notify you of someone unfollowing you on Twitter or Instagram until, well, I unfollowed someone on Twitter or Instagram. But, in retrospect, I should have known better. It’s 2014. There is always an app for that. And if Twitter always notifies you with an exclamatory statement anytime someone follows you, it only seems natural that people out there would want another notification should someone unfollow them.

In my little social media microcosm, people fall into one of four categories:

1) People who I like both in real life and also on social media

2) People who I absolutely love in real life but can’t stomach on social media

3) People who I like on social media but don’t know enough in real life to vouch for

4) People who I just don’t fuck with at all

That being said, how I choose to engage with people online is based on those four perceptions. I have some people who I would vouch for any day of the week but refuse to follow on social media because it would skew my perception of them in a negative way. I have some people whose social media content is pretty cool, but I would never vouch for them in real life; I just don’t know them like that. I have a very small pool of people who I love both in real life and on social media. And, I have a larger pool of people who I just don’t fuck with.

I do not have any unfollow apps on my phone. I do not see a need for any unfollow apps. And, if you have any unfollow apps, you may not like what I’m about to say. But, such is the blogging life.

Last summer when my blog picked up some traction, I started to notice my number of Twitter followers fluctuate. Now, the number of people following me goes up and down each day, a pendulum swing of pretty worthless online popularity. Admittedly, when I first started to see my numbers seesaw, I would scroll through the list of followers and try to identify who had suddenly disappeared (obviously I knew nothing of an unfollow app at this point.) Eventually, I grew tired of doing that and didn’t care enough.

As I’ve written before, in the blogging game, numbers matter. I’m not going to sit up here as someone who is working on building readership for a blog and claim that numbers don’t matter. I would be a flaming hypocrite if I did that. But, what I am going to say is that who chooses to unfollow you truly does not matter. At least not enough to own an app about it.

Here’s my rationale: people unfollow me every day. Maybe I know them, maybe I don’t. But, if someone chooses not to subscribe to my minuscule and meaningless daily thoughts, why should I care? They have every right not to listen to me rant, roar and retweet. What am I going to do if someone stops following me, track that person down and request they send me a dissertation about why they chose to unfollow me? No. I’m going to keep tweeting really inane shit and the other people who want to read it will.

My followers do not pay my bills. My followers are not investing in my 401K. They do not wipe my ass, tuck me in at night or keep the lights on in my apartment. My followers do not feed me, file my taxes, pay for my vacations or cuddle up next to me when I’m lonely. Is it nice and reassuring to have people share the thoughts that I project into the digital world? Yes. Yes, it is. But does any of that help me sustain life day to day? Absolutely not.

People are worried about follower count and they can’t even pay their rent. People are out here with 100K people subscribing to their every thought and no one in real life even wants to befriend them. People are preoccupied by how many Instagram likes one of their photos can get and their cable just got cut off. Talk about a generation with some fucked up priorities.

The next time your follower count goes up or down, ask yourself why you care. I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I’m not saying you shouldn’t notice when those numbers oscillate. But, I am saying ask yourself why it matters or if it even will five years from now. Because chances are it won’t.



2 Replies to “The Politics Of Unfollowing Someone On Social Media”

  1. Honestly, I used to care. And I used to take it really personally, but then I realized, just because someone unfollows me does not account for something I did or said to intentionally hurt someone. I’m either too silly or too serious, too positive or not positive enough. Can’t please everyone and that is perfectly fine. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s all good. Stuff like that is definitely doesn’t determine who people are and such a poor priority to have.I was actually having a similar conversation the other day with a girl who is always super self-conscious when she meets her Twitter followers. It was so minimal that she gave so much thought to it and I just couldn’t understand any of it. However, I would say and I have said before that I’d much rather someone not follow me if they don’t like me in real life.

    1. Agreed. I no longer care about the fluctuation of followers now. I had the unfollow app for a month about two years ago, but then got rid of it. When I follow people, I’m not expecting a follow back. I’m not trying to build a false sense of popularity or get even online with anyone that doesn’t like me. Often, I just like reading random thoughts on important, or non important, issues. If I press the follow button I like what someone and saying and if they choose to unfollow me, oh well.

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