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The beauty of the unfollow button

by Colette Sexton
18th May 2019

Journalist Colette Sexton on why the unfollow button should be your new best friend.

While everyone in the world is out there Marie Kondo-ing their wardrobes, I have taken it upon myself to Marie Kondo my digital space. Let’s be honest, I spend a hell of a lot more time on my phone than looking in my wardrobe and up to now, I have been simply putting up with the stress and annoyance various people, accounts and posts cause.

Having a phone full of connections to negative accounts and mean or ignorant people is much worse than hanging on to that skirt in the back of a drawer that hasn’t fit since 2008. That skirt can gather dust. You might not see it for months.

Unfortunately, your phone comes with you everywhere and for some, it is like carrying a little gremlin around. You should try to make your phone something that “sparks joy” as much as possible, as Marie says, instead of something that makes you feel pain, anger or hatred. You can do this in a few relatively easy ways. Put it like this: the unfollow button is about to become your best friend.

Emotional connection

The next time you open up your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feeds, pay attention to your emotional reaction to certain accounts. This might seem a bit “deep” but really, your reaction will be immediate and obvious if you just focus and pay attention to it.

You might grimace when you see a name pop up, or experience a sinking feeling as you scroll down past a post from a particular account. If that happens, then take that unfollow button and use it.

Do you have a relative that shares racist/homophobic/inaccurate information on their Facebook page but you can’t delete or block them because your granny will be upset? Unfollow.

Do you have a friend that you are beginning to dislike because they constantly go on about their child/wedding/travels/business that is definitely a pyramid scheme? Unfollow.

Do you have someone on your feed that complains about everything and anything on a regular basis? Unfollow.

Do you hate-follow an account because you love to bitch about the person behind it to your friends? Unfollow.

Are you a member of an online group that can sometimes be entertaining but often spews hatred or tears people to shreds? Unfollow.

Stop wasting time

Do you follow someone because they appear to have an amazing life/ family/ appearance/ job and seeing their posts makes you hate yourself a little bit? Immediately unfollow. Even if you do not unfollow any of the above, unfollow this person. Their carefully curated life on Instagram is not their real life. You should not compare yourself to them and you certainly should not follow a social media account that makes you feel bad about yourself. They are not providing you with #inspo or #goals. They are giving you nothing, and they are taking away happiness. Stop it right now.  

Initially hitting the unfollow button might seem a little extreme, or even mean, but once you start doing a clearout online you will notice an improvement in your mood. You might even find yourself wasting less time aimlessly flicking through feeds trying to weed through the nasty posts to find something good.

When you do scroll, your feed will be full of wonderful things like updates from your actual friends. And cute puppies. They certainly spark joy.

Read more: I quit social media for five months and ended up back online, in a new way

Read more: Social media isn’t all negative – it can help and heal too

Read more: The most sinister side of the 10-year social media challenge