You Don't Need to Feel Bad for Unfollowing People
In this day and age, technology is practically the center of our lives. Without it, we cannot accomplish most of what we want to do in life. But technology has shifted from something we use for necessity to something we use constantly, and sometimes for no reason at all. It is easy to fall into the void of social media. There are so many mediums of social media that allow you to be connected to the people you know or have met. Over the years, you may feel like you do not connect with that person any more or have any reason to have them on your social media platforms. A simple unfollow or unfriend can mean nothing to you in that moment, but I have seen this become something people turn into an issue. I noticed over the years the action of a follow or unfollow means a lot to people. This has come to the point of obsession. We are now given the multiple options of apps that are meant to keep track of your followers on social media platforms. A free trial of the apps usually allows you to see who unfollowed you, which is usually the main reason why people get these apps.
I have always found this to be troubling. I find it quite sad, actually. What someone chooses to do with their social media is their prerogative. No one is obligated to follow anyone, even if they have known them for years. I will never understand the logic behind assuming someone has an issue with you because they unfollowed you.
However, I will acknowledge that this issue is rooted in the increased collective use of social media in the younger generation. The copious amounts of social media use can lead to a multitude of feelings, most of them being negative. While in the moment it may feel satisfying, it ultimately leads to this underlying need to constantly see what other people you know are doing, even if you do not care for them. Danah Boyd explains this perfectly in her book “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.” In a chapter dedicated to social media addiction, Boyd explains, “Listening to teens talk about social media addiction reveals an interest not in features of their computers, smartphones, or even particular social media sites but in each other. Teen ‘addiction’ to social media is a new extension of typical human engagement” (Boyd, 2014, p. 80). Rather than having to keep up with people in person, it is easier to do it all on your smartphone. This whole conversation is brought up a lot now that I am in college. The awkwardness surrounding whether you should keep everyone you know from high school on your social media haunts most college students. Some people want to know what others are up to, and some people like myself do not really care and selectively unfollow as I go.
I think everyone is a bit too sensitive when it comes to social media follows and likes (likes are an entire different story). It has become creepily obsessive and depressing for those who are caught in the web of trying to keep up with it all. I hope one day people can look past this superficial view and value themselves regardless of who follows them or not.
Danah Boyd, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens