The other day, I was going on a regular social media “doom-scroll sesh” when a post stopped me in my tracks. I don’t want to go into too much detail because… oof, but it was very anti-women.
Yeah, surprisingly, not my cup of tea. And then I saw who posted it — someone who I actually had been friends with at one point.
My immediate reaction was to click her profile, unfriend her, and get back to my day. I didn’t hesitate, and poof — “friend” gone.
Why? According to DigitalMarketing.org, the average American spends 2 hours and 3 minutes on social media every day.
If you’re like me, you’d like to quit social media, but you’re not ready yet. Until then, if you’re going to be on social media, you may as well make the apps you use as positive for your mental health as possible. It begins with culling your “friends” and the accounts you follow.
This allows you to curate a place where you can get what you need without seeing the things that make you feel like crap. Unfollowing these five people can make a huge difference in your life by getting rid of the negative influences in your life.
A quick preface
Before we start, remember to acknowledge what your goal for being on social media is. Then, when looking at the following people, ask yourself these questions to decide whether you want to unfollow them or not:
- Do I know/like this person?
- How does this person’s content make me feel? (If the answer if “bad,” there’s your answer)
- Do I care about what’s happening in this person’s life?
- Would my social media experience be better if I unfollowed this person?
On to the list!
1. People You Went to High School With
I’m guilty of this — I’m Facebook friends with a lot of people from high school (read: I haven’t seen or talked to them in 5 years). Honestly, I don’t even like half of them. High school wasn’t a great time for me so they’re only reminding me of my trauma, and these are people who aren’t adding anything to my life now.
In fact, it’s frustrating to see people who were actually your friends in high school like other people’s posts, and not yours. It sucks. It feels awful.
So, unfollow the people you went to high school with who you don’t even know anymore. Why are you “friends” with people you don’t know? Because they throw you a random like once in a while? Focus on the people you know and love, and your social media world will grow a whole lot brighter in no time.
2. Your Exes
You don’t need to be social media buddies with your exes — especially if you haven’t seen them in forever and don’t care anymore, or worse, if you care too much. If you’ve broken up with this person recently and the wound is still fresh, you need to do yourself a service and unfollow them immediately.
At the very least, you owe yourself the love and kindness to temporarily mute this person. Otherwise, you are just setting yourself up to see posts you know will upset you.
And, while you’re at it, are you friends with your significant other’s ex? If so… why? Unless there is a reason why you need to be friends, that’s just negativity lurking on your social media accounts every day.
3. Your Overly Political and Intolerant Relatives
To preface: I don’t mean people who have different political opinions than you. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep people who are kind and respectful yet open about their opposing political opinions as friends, because it’s so easy to get stuck in an echo chamber on social media to sate our own confirmation bias.
I mean the relatives you have who are openly racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. You can still be “friends” with them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, but unfollow them or mute them so you don’t see their posts.
I know this is a tricky situation — believe me, I’ve been there — but ultimately, sometimes “family” has the same importance as “tradition.” That’s to say: don’t do something just because it’s what’s “socially correct.” For me, family are the people who lift me up and let me do the same for them — not people who have the same great-grandparents.
Again, this one is tricky, so do what makes the most sense for you.
4. “Instagram Models”
For lack of a more encompassing term, unfollow the people on social media whose bodies make you feel bad about your own. There’s no reason to follow someone when every picture they post makes you feel like a steaming hot pile of garbage — and yes, it actually affects your body image.
If you follow these accounts for fitness inspiration, try following healthy folks with a similar body type. That way, you’ll be inspired by their style and choices without feeling the dread of the “unattainable figure.”
For example, as a fat woman, I’m not going to follow supermodels for inspiration — it makes me feel crappy. However, I will absolutely follow plus-size models for inspiration, because that’s a more attainable fitness goal for someone with my body type.
With — let’s be honest — following hot people you wish you looked like, just dig deep and make sure those pictures are actually inspirational and not actually a self-sabotage technique.
5. Huh? Who Is This?
Have you ever gotten a friend request and wondered, “who the actual heck is this person?” You head on over to their profile, and see you have some mutual friends… But you still have no idea who they are?
If you accepted that request, unfollow them. If you haven’t gotten that request or responded to it yet, delete it.
I’ll be completely transparent with you, and I hope I’m not alone in saying this: in the past, I’ve kept Facebook friends because they occasionally like my memes or selfies, and my fragile, fragile ego demands validation. It’s embarrassing, but worse, it’s insincere and cluttering my feed with things that don’t matter.
Trust me when I say that a stranger who occasionally likes one of your statuses isn’t worth keeping as a Facebook friend.
If you get anything out of this piece, let it be this: you don’t owe anyone anything on social media. You don’t need to feel obligated to be Facebook friends with someone or to like someone’s Instagram selfies. In fact, you don’t owe anyone anything in life but kindness and respect.
Therefore, when you’re thinking about unfollowing someone, don’t let the angel and devil on your shoulders duke it out. If unfollowing someone improves your quality of life more than it worsens it, unfollow them.
Life is so damn short, friend. Fill it with the people and content that make you a better, happier person — yes, even if it means fewer likes. I promise you, it’ll be worth it.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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