If I’ve unfollowed you on Twitter/Instagram/wherever, it’s because something you said upset me, made me feel really uncomfortable, or angered me. I’m not the kind of person to start random arguments on the internet (not a fan of the confrontation), so I’d rather just get over it, remove the problem, and then not think about it again. Unless it makes me so angry that I need to write a blog post about it, obviously.
Isn’t that what the unfollow button is for? Or the block button? Or the mute button? To stop yourself being triggered by things you see on the internet? To practice self-care and make sure you’re not subjected to things that make you feel sad/angry/out-of-sorts online? To stop you from becoming a ‘troll’ and saying those things you probably shouldn’t say?
That’s what I thought. But do you want to know what I’ve learned?
That damn unfollow/block/mute button starts more arguments than it prevents.
How does that work??
Once upon a time, it would take me a lot to remove someone from my digital friend list. Those numbers seemed important to me as a youngster, although I’m not really sure why. I wanted to have 1000+ friends on Facebook, adding anyone and everyone; look how popular I am. These days, my list of friends is private. It’s been severely culled. 500, 400, 300. How many of those people did I actually talk to? Interact with? How many of their images did I like? Did they ever comment on my stuff? I must have cut my list in half and then some, completely eradicating people I no longer talked to, liked, or wanted to be associated with, even blocking a few. Ya know, just in case.
What happened when I did that? People started ASKING me why we were no longer friends.
“Hi, I see that you unfriended me on Facebook. Why did you do that? Have I upset you?”
No, Katy, I just haven’t spoken a word to you since I was 15 years old and I’m not even sure when or why we became “Facebook friends” in the first place.
Fast-forward a few months, MLM open season began. Every other person on my timeline was trying to flog me something, along with a few in my inbox. Some of them invited me to groups to buy products I have no interest in, even lying to me in the process.
“Are these beauty products cruelty-free and safe for vegans?”
… Company sells products in China, therefore, definitely tested on animals. Brand is NOT cruelty-free.
I’m not vegan. I’m not even a vegetarian. But, you know, I want to try and buy cruelty-free products to stuff my makeup bag full as much as I can. I don’t think I need to be a vegan/vegetarian to try and reduce the damage I inflict on our beautiful planet and it’s wonderful animals.
SHE LIED TO ME.
As far as I’m concerned, if you’re trying to flog me makeup or beauty products, you’d better know your stuff.
You can’t get one over on me, sweetheart. I’m not one of your MLM cult members.
So then I started cutting out the people who were trying to flog me stuff, and I really did try to do it gradually, respectfully, quietly, subtly. I left a group. I unliked a page a few days later. I muted a person a few days after that.
What happened? I was reintroduced to the group, invited to re-like the page, and sent a message asking how I was … which obviously turned into an MLM sales chat in less than three minutes. I left one group FIVE times, and on the sixth re-invitation I blocked the damn girl.
Fuck you, damn girl.
Why is this happening? Let me just put this simply:
I said no.
I keep saying no.
You keep forcing yourself and your products upon me.
Isn’t that harassment?? If you were a dude, we’d have issues right now. (Sorry for the sexism, but, yeah, exactly that.)
Then there was the friend who really upset me. It was a silly falling out really, but she still upset me and then totally disregarded every single one of my reasons for being upset. The constant updates on my timeline after that were too much. It was one of the first things I’d see when I opened my eyes and reached for my phone, and it got to a point where I’d just stop checking my socials first thing. I’m a bit emotional in the morning. The tiniest situations have a habit of being blown into all sorts of ridiculous proportions. I might cry. I might get angry. I might break a cup … or five.
But then Bear said something to me:
“You shouldn’t have to avoid all social media just because you’re worried about one person upsetting you. You need to take care of yourself. Just get rid of her.”
And he was right. I shouldn’t have to avoid all social media for at least two hours in the morning just because of ONE person. So, I got rid of her. I unfriended her.
What happened? She messaged me, people. She ASKED me why I’d unfriended her. Even though I’d already told her I was upset and why she still felt the need to message me and ask me why I’d clicked that button.
The whole unfriending business hasn’t worked out that well for me. Neither has the mute button. I used it for one girl who posted constant updates of her pregnancy and then newborn baby, and it was all just a little too much for me. I was actively trying to get pregnant and failing, and I was watching her live out the experience in actual step-by-step detail. So, I muted her. I figured it would be cool for a few months, until the whole novelty of the new baby wore off, and then I’d un-mute and return things back to how they were. This gal’s gotta protect her heart and all that.
What happened? You can probably guess at this point. It took less than THREE WEEKS before she sent me a message.
“You haven’t liked any of my pictures in a while. You usually like them all. Everything okay?”
No, Sharon, everything is not okay. I’m struggling with my own fertility issues and your daily bumpdates are literally killing me. Please be happy, though. You look fab. Let me have my moment of sadness and I promise things will be just fine.
I didn’t say that, of course. I made my “busy-busy” excuses, un-muted her, and then found myself avoiding Facebook again for another few months. That’s what social media is for me now: a constant merry-go-round of apologies for giving people that upset me the boot.
Friends —> not friends —> why aren’t we friends? —> friends again.
Rinse and repeat.
Fuck off. I just wanna live a peaceful life. That’s all. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and read what’s going on in my local Facebook group without being upset by someone’s racist beliefs or be sold some crappy beauty/household product or seeing flicker-books of babies that all look exactly the same. Yeah, that’s right, all of your babies look like Phil Mitchell. And mine probably would too, if I had ‘em. But I don’t, so I don’t wanna see that shit, okay?
When did it become such a taboo thing, unfriending someone? Why is it such a big faux pas? Why am I committing the ultimate social media sin by culling some non-gal-pal I haven’t spoken to in over a decade? How come I keep getting into trouble for trying to avoid a little bit of upset?
Why are my social media accounts dictated by people I don’t even really know?