December 30, 2015

Y u unfollow me?


I got a Facebook message from a friend the other day.

Friend: “Hey! Weird one. Thought you might understand. So there’s this girl, a really cool girl on Twitter, who I’m kind of obsessed with and I’ve just seen she’s unfollowed me. We have so much in common. We both work in journalism, live in a big city, into fashion, both have blogs. I’m gutted. Is it weird that I’m this gutted?”

Me: “Ouch. I mean that is never a nice feeling. I’ve definitely felt this before. Try not to take it personally though.”

Friend: “But I don’t get it. We used to have a few random exchanges back and forth all the time. I thought we got on.”

Me: “Is she a friend, though?’

Friend: “No. I mean, I’ve never met her IRL. I thought we were building up to a friendship maybe. God I sound desperate but I don’t mean it like that. Just that I think we’d get on. She lives in Brooklyn but I just really like her opinions on stuff. I would have loved to have maybe met up with her one day if I ever went over again to New York. She’s just one of my fave people to follow.”

Me: “Argh. It’s a tough one. I have no idea why she would unfollow you. But I mean, I would say that.”

Friend: “Maybe I tweet too much about my breakfast. Or I ranted too much about an airline company that fucked me over and lost my suitcase the other day.”

Friend typing.

“Or maybe I’m too happy?”

Me: ” I doubt it’s that.”

Friend: “Or maybe I’m a complete and total dick.”

I found this whole conversation so interesting. I too used to sweat over the smallest of social actions. Especially an “unfollow” from someone I respected; I’d brainstorm privately all the probable reasons they might have gone off me. Am I too self-absorbed? Too opinionated? Too much self-promotion? Is it because I tweeted a First World Problem? It’s so easy to conjure up all the insecurities laying dormant in your mind. I once had that app that tells you who unfollows you on Instagram. Needless to say, it was the worst decision. I started caring if someone I would never ever meet decided they didn’t want to see my holiday snaps.

This tiny-action-that-suddenly-spiralled-into-self-hatred so easily reminded me of so many times I’ve been “ghosted”. I think “someone unfollowing you randomly on Twitter one day” can be classified as ghosting or at least Twitter-Ghosting. On Urban Dictionary “Ghosting” means: 1.) The act of disappearing on your friends without notice. 2.) Cancelling plans with little or no notice.

After being ghosted I never normally have the balls to ask why. The silver lining though, as I’ve written about before, is I do genuinely see this as an organic cleansing of your social networks. People unfollowing you occasionally means that the people that do follow you are generally interested. That’s why I love crafting my newsletter with time and love and effort: because people have subscribed to it. Because they want to follow and read it.

I texted her again a few days later.

Me: “I was thinking about what you were saying about that girl who unfollowed you. Maybe it’s just an organic clearing of people who aren’t worth worrying about. It’s their decision and you can’t make people like you.”

Friend: “Oh, actually. Lol I forgot to tell you. I realised the other day my phone wasn’t loading properly and she is actually still following me. False alarm!”

Me: “Oh. Ha ha.”

Friend: “Sorry for going a bit nutso. I was freaking out that I’d done something.”

I thought about this some more. Isn’t it odd how we can sometimes care so much about people who aren’t in our immediate circles, who don’t have any really impact on daily life, who most of time we may never really see much of in real life? It’s virtual. Richard Osman tweeted this recently and I found it interesting: “Twitter is what your psyche makes it, you know that. It will adapt to whatever shape you fear most. It’s illusory.”

This little conversation reminded me of how I felt last year. I too would pause and think “what have I done?” instead of “oh, okay” if someone Internet-Ghosted me. I was surprised my friend cared so much about someone she had never met but I could also totally relate to this sort of perpetual social anxiety.

But really: I’ve realised, in time, that I’d really rather someone unfollow me than stay there just out of politeness or for no reason.

I am unfollowing people I don’t want to take with me into 2016 — and that means accepting that others might do the same.

No Responses

  1. “I am unfollowing people I don’t want to take with me into 2016” – Same here. Those people I follow who only make me feel like my kid isn’t well behaved enough, or my house isn’t clean enough or this or that…? BYE BYE.

  2. Love this post. I often get offended when people unfollow.. Why follow me in the first place. Anywho it their lost. Life is too short to worry about this kind of things. Thanks for sharing, wishing you a very healthy and successful 2016.x

  3. tu says:

    Enjoyed this post — Twitter can be random too. I’m often fumbling about with my phone, wondering if one of the kids has been playing on my account or if I left the phone on in my pocket.

  4. Love how you told this story. I can related to being Ghost. Or just not befriended after following someone that I admire and can relate too. It use to get to me. One person decided to follow me after they opened a new twitter account for a different project they was doing. I thought that was weird. But trying to figure out people’s method to their madness will make you mad, in more ways than one. So, I stop trying. Instead, I realized that I am doing all of this (Blog, writing, tweeting, posting) for me. I can very well stop today or tomorrow. But I am not, because I enjoy it. So in order to keep enjoying it I need not to make it about everyone else. The genuine relationships build doing all of this, will come. And maybe they won’t. However, it’s fun with or without them.

  5. Pandora says:

    I liked this, EG. And I agree with much of it!

  6. I unfollow people. For instance, I might follow another artist for a while on instagram if I am interested in their work. Sometimes I may elect to unfollow if I see that the work is repetitive and formulaic. Sounds harsh, but I like some dynamism. Other than that, I generally follow people I like and/or admire, but I like to keep my instagram and twitter follows fairly small so people don’t get lost, for that reason I may follow people for a short period only.

    What I hate though, really…really hate with a passion, is the accounts (particularly the case for instagram) who ‘strategically’ follow and unfollow you. I have found this a lot with art and design mags and platforms who want to build a following. They will follow a ton of people, hook them in and then unfollow them. Rogue Magazine did this to me a couple of months ago. I noticed they followed me, the mag looked cool so I followed them back, and then about a week or two later, unfollowed me. So, I watched them for a day, in a 24 hour period they had unfollowed about 1K to virtually nothing. Then, started over a few days later. Needless to say I was pretty pissed, silly really. But, I find it so tacky and unprofessional.

    Anyway, happy new year Emma, have a fab one.

    Lorrie xx

  7. Tink Jayne says:

    Great Post Emma!
    This genuinely happened to me a few weeks ago.
    A fellow blogger unfollowed me on Instagram (according to iconsquare). I was gutted. What had I done? Are my grams not pretty enough? My words not funny enough? Did I post too many #nikeplus pics??
    In a bit of an immature move, I unfollowed her back *folds arms in a sulk*
    Then we met at a Christmas event, I approached her to introduce myself and we hugged and we spoke (as we were technically still twitter friends) and she was so lovely. I then made a point of following her on instagram straight away, but alas I got no follow back. Rather than unfollow I decided to just leave it, because surely the whole reason I followed her in the first place is because I like her images, voice and style?? So what if she doesn’t like mine. It would be so hypocritical of me to unfollow just because she doesn’t like my style.
    And reading this comment back I have just realised how dam sad my life is and how I waaaaaaaaay overthink my social media life
    *runs away back to her real life*
    x tink jayne x

  8. Tink Jayne says:

    Completely agree about the follow/unfollow strategy.
    I get a lovely new follower, and I’m like ‘Oh yay – thanks dude’ but 24 hours later they’ve already disowned me and unfollowed because I didn’t follow them back. Pfft.
    Their almost as bad as the people on intsgram who spam comment with pointless crap like ‘cool feed’ or ‘wow’
    x tink jayne x

  9. You are definitely right about the tiny-action-that-suddenly-spiralled-into-self-hatred thing. It’s so easy to go from “my follower count reduced by 10” to “oh my god everyone thinks my photos are ugly”. Way too easy. I’ve definitely been guilty of that. Overthinking things is a massive imperfection of mine!

    I do hate the fact that people and companies use the follow/unfollow strategy to increase their own following. It sucks as a method. Just put out great content, engage with people, and let things grow organically. Must listen to my own advice.

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