I Don't Feel Guilty About Unfollowing On Social Media and Neither Should You
I spend A LOT of time on social media, an embarrassing amount of time to be honest. The new iPhone feature that tells you your daily and weekly screen time has made me very aware of this. On average, I probably spend about 2 hours a day on Instagram, according to my phone. That’s 14 hours a week, 60 hours a month, 730 hours a year! I’ve tried SO much to cut down on my screen time but, mostly, it feels like a losing game. The truth is, we live in a society that is addicted to social media so breaking the habit of scrolling isn’t as easy as we might think.
So if I am inevitably going to be spending this much time on social media, I want it to be a positive space. I want it to add something to my life! I definitely don’t want it to make me feel bad about myself or my life. I recently watched Lucy Moon’s video about organising her life and putting mindful habits into place for the new year and one of the things she did was go through all of her Twitter and Instagram followers and unfollowed anyone who didn’t inspire her or wasn’t her friend. I thought taking the time out to do this was such a good idea as I’ve never gone through my followers in this way and I had been thinking a lot about how I wanted to make social media a more positive and productive space.
So I did just that! I started with Twitter because I’ve been using Twitter for a long time, probably about 8 years if not more, and I’d never really thought about who I’m following. Plus, Twitter had been one of the spaces I found to be stressful because of the sheer amount of words that were thrown at me, many of which were from people I’m not really in touch with anymore or accounts that I’m just no longer interested in, which meant I was consuming a lot of information that wasn’t really positive or productive for me.
Like Lucy, I wanted to continue following all of my friends, as well as accounts that I find inspiring, informative and/or positive. I didn’t actually check how many people I followed before my ‘cleanse’ but I think it was between 400-600 people and I now only follow 113 people on Twitter. My following now mostly includes my friends, bloggers/social media people whose lives I find interesting, authors and musicians and newspapers/online platforms that I enjoy (e.g. Man Repeller and The New York Times). Even the day after my little unfollowing spree, I noticed how much more I was enjoying scrolling through my Twitter feed, and it’s actually meant that I’ve gone on Twitter less too because there isn’t as much to see so I don’t have an excuse to endlessly carry on scrolling.
I haven’t finished ‘cleansing’ my Instagram following yet, purely because it was taking a little longer as I have to look at everyone’s feeds and decide whether I think they’re adding something to my life (in the form of inspiration, positivity or information) rather than, like with Twitter, just knowing straight away whether this is the case. But I know when I do get the chance to finish clearing up my Instagram, it’s going to make scrolling there so much more positive for me too.
Despite the fact that I am doing all of this unfollowing to make social media a better space for me personally, there is still some guilt in unfollowing. Even if you haven’t spoken to them for years, it can feel a little bitchy or arrogant to unfollow people. But it really isn’t! It’s a positive thing for you and your mental health and you and that can only be good. And after seeing how much my social media use changed for the better after doing my little ‘cleanse’, I really don’t feel guilty about it all.
I personally wouldn't be offended one bit if someone wanted to unfollow me, for whatever reason. Whether it’s because we’re not in touch anymore and they’re no longer interested in what I get up to or if it’s just that they just don’t find my content particularly interesting or inspiring! That’s fine! I feel like I’d have to be pretty vain to think that everyone is going to care about my life enough to hear about it pretty much every day. Unfollowing people is an act of self-care, which means it’s absolutely nothing personal towards the people you’re unfollowing, in fact it’s the complete opposite, it’s all about you! And it’s okay to be selfish here. You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t have to and if people are going to be offended that you’ve unfollowed them, it really is their own problem/issue, not yours.
So if you do have some free time over the next few days, take out an hour or two to go through your following lists on social media and cleanse it of anyone/anything that isn’t a positive influence on your life. If you spend as much time on social media as I do, it’s kind of necessary for it to be a source of positivity because if it isn’t, just think how that amount of time spent in a negative space will affect you, your mental health and your general mood. And please don’t feel guilty about it! You should never feel guilty for looking after yourself and if people are going to make you feel guilty about that, they’re not really people you want in your life anyway, so you know you’ve made the right decision in unfollowing them!
I’d love to hear how you feel about unfollowing on social media. Is ‘cleansing’ your following something you already do regularly or have you never thought about it before? Is your screen time as high as mine (please say yes)? Let me know in the comments or send me a message over on social media, speak of the devil!
Despite the fact that I’ve just referred to it as satanic (lol, that saying really backfired), social media and a high screen time does not necessarily need to be a bad thing, as it’s often made out to be. If you can make your social media into a space that provides inspiration, positivity, information, or whatever else it is you want to get from it, it can be an amazing place to spend your time!