Here is something you should never, ever do. Download any app that shows you all the people who don’t follow you back on Instagram. Don’t do it! Trust me on this! DO NOT.
Obviously you can tell by now that I did do this thing that I am warning you all not to do. I did it because of curiosity, and also because I have a real psychological issue around humiliation. More on that later.
In short – I wanted to know who wasn’t following me back because I’m a nosy bitch who never learns, and also because the idea of following someone on Instagram who had at some point unfollowed me is the highest level of humiliation, in my eyes.
The app (which I’m NOT linking bc don’t do this!! Learn from me!) works like so – you get a list of people that follow you who you don’t follow, those where you mutually follow each other, and a list of people you follow… who don’t follow you back.
Obviously you can deduce from this list some folks who once followed you but have since given you the boot. And it sucks.
Several old acquaintances had chucked me. This was fine – I just unfollowed them back and was frankly pleased to have this mutual unravelling of a social media “friendship” that really didn’t exist IRL anymore. Old colleagues, old randoms from parties and so on – gone.
Then it got painful. Several people I *still* (!!!) work with had unfollowed me.
I rarely post or Story and if I do, it’s dumb shit that likely wouldn’t piss you off unless you didn’t really… like me as a person.
And so began my existential spiral.
From there, I discovered some CURRENT acquaintances – people I wouldn’t say I speak to on the regular but who are friends-of-friends, people I see at parties, had done the old unfollow. Why? In the current age of the Mute, unfollowing someone on Instagram seems highly pointed. And far more hurtful, IMO.
Join me on this journey of soul-searching, would you?
1. I Know It Sounds Vapid, But It’s Not
I’m sure LOADS of you, particularly people who hate me and read my stories just to shit on them (I see you) are finding this really self-absorbed and vapid. Who the fuck cares who follows you on social media, you’re saying.
But it’s not about that. As my colleague Matty (who does follow me, lel) put it – it’s like finding out someone you considered a mate has been bitching behind your back for months. When it’s people you see IRL, who you consider your friends on some level, it actually feels like a betrayal.
It’s not about the follower count or the actual act of the unfollow. It’s what the act says about the relationship you have with that person. Basically – does this mean this person has been faking nice to you all this time?
2. It’s Humiliating
If I could sum all these complex feelings of hurt, betrayal etc. up into one word – it’s humiliation. It’s the hot shame of hugging someone at a party or having a lively, friendly chat with that colleague at work, and then finding out that for weeks or months or god knows how long, they’ve unfollowed your fucking life.
Shame is one of the worst feelings, and for me it’s a real sore point – IDK when but somewhere in my life I was very humiliated and it’s given me some sort of mental trigger. I’m not using that term lightly, I speak to my psychologist constantly about this. I react very deeply to perceived humiliation, which is likely why this hurt me more than it may hurt you. But that doesn’t mean it’s not emotionally hard on even the most pulled-together folks.
3. But Be Realistic
Look, I do think you need to take stock of your social media actions and deduce whether there’s a reason people have unfollowed you. A reason that is less to do with you, and more to do with your social media presence.
For example, back in the day I went through this questionable period where I tried being a fashion Instagrammer. Everyone who followed me was accosted with daily faux-candid style pics that I’m sure pissed them off. An unfollow back then – less offensive to me. Because it’s likely nothing to do with me, and everything to do with what people feel like seeing (or not seeing) on the daily.
Ditto if you’re an aspiring whatever – DJ, actor, artist, model – and you post a lot of work on your profile. Maybe you’re super in love and your feed is riddled with couple pics. A really sad, single person might not want that shit in their face day after day, you know? And I think that’s fair enough.
4. But Also, There’s Mute?
The reason it hurts more these days when someone unfollows you on Instagram is that there’s a Mute function. You can literally follow someone but mute their stories and posts.
I actually have NFI why anyone is unfollowing anyone they have to interact with regularly in 2019, but here we are.
An unfollow is very, very pointed. It can only mean one thing, folks.
5. At The End Of The Day, It’s Likely They Don’t Like You
Look, I had to be honest with myself. In a world with Mute, if someone on purpose unfollows you on Instagram it’s… because they do not like you. For whatever reason, you suck to them. Maybe you offended them, maybe they just don’t like your personality or your humour.
But let’s be honest. They have an issue, and the issue is with you on some level.
6. But Also, Who Gives A Shit?
This does not mean it has to be YOUR problem! The greatest lesson I have learned in this life so far, aside from “do not microwave aluminium foil”, is that you literally do not have to give two shits about someone else’s beef with you.
If someone doesn’t like you – who cares! Remember all the people who DO like you. All the friends who do follow you, the acquaintances who reply to your funny Instagram Stories. If you’re going through what I just went through, my encouragement is this – for lack of a better term, fuck the haters.
Unfollow those people literally AND metaphorically – do not concern yourself with their life, or what that unfollow may have meant. At the end of the day, if you offended them they can be a grown adult and let you know, k? And if they simply dislike you – that’s fine. Give your energy to those who DO like you – I guarantee there’s plenty of them.