In the last few weeks, I went through a mini cull on Twitter, choosing to unfollow several people for various reasons. Before I unfollowed them I tried to think about why I wanted to unfollow these people. There are I believe very good reasons to unfollow or not to unfollow people or accounts that you don’t agree with or who are trolling or generally creating a negative attitude in your Twitter feed.
There are arguments for not unfollowing someone. Twitter can become an echo chamber with only voices that align with what you believe so you’re not hearing the other side of the argument.
There is also a use in following accounts that cause anger or feelings of injustice in you, in that it can create an opportunity to be triggered in order to heal some sort of pain that you may very well be suppressing.
And of course there are arguments for unfollowing someone. You just get frustrated by their ideas and you start to feel them making you angry. You may even start to enjoy feeling this anger. They troll you or just create an unhealthy atmosphere online. Maybe they post the same thing over and over or conversations deteriorate quickly into unhelpful rhetoric.
While, who we deem to be worth or not worthy of unfollowing is subjective, I started to notice that I would follow or remain following people, just so I can be annoyed. But unlike the potential for change I mentioned above, I wasn’t actually growing from it. In fact, I started to enjoy the feeling. I would get into discussions that clearly weren’t helpful to anyone.
I started to ask myself if I was starting to enjoy feeling angry?
So for that reason, I unfollowed a few people.
At some point I will maybe refollow those people because I know that it can help me to uncover some deep pain that I need to deal with, yet sometimes it’s just fruitless following someone. They don’t provide anything of substance to your life and vice versa. Their Tweets don’t cause you to think, just get angry. Their manner is confrontational or nasty.
And still, I couldn’t help that niggling thought that I was just creating an echo chamber of ideas by eliminating ideas I didn’t agree with.
But then I realized something important. Maybe whether we follow someone or not based on their ideas isn’t the most imporant factor. Maybe it’s the platform.
The problem with Twitter.
Could Twitter be the problem?
It’s rare (not impossible though) to have conversations on Social Media with people that you disagree with or who disagree with you that end up being fruitful, compassionate and furthering reconciliation.
Twitter is a great place to be passive aggressive and witty without requiring you to sit down with someone different than you. Twitter may have removed the egg icon but it’s still very easy to be anonymous, even with a nice polished profile picture of yourself.
The more time I spend on Twitter, the more I feel drained. After a while, you get overwhelmed and sick of hearing the same things over and over, that soon enough you find yourself bored and fed up every side. Creativity does not come from spending so much time on Twitter, but Twitter and other Social Media platforms are wonderful ways to share your content and work with people, that 15 years ago would never have access to it.
You don’t need me to tell you that this is both a wonderful and horrible thing.
Sifting through content that is worthwhile is tough and honestly, sometimes the best thing is to just unfollow.
Most of the issues I have with people on Twitter can really be distilled to a warped desire to be liked. To seek validation from them.
Unfollowing someone can therefore help you not care what they think. Because when you still follow them, even if they don’t follow you, they are still active in your mind. You spend far too much energy wondering if they are as angry or pissed off as you are, which while being a strange type of caring what they think, is still caring what they think all the same.
Last year I unfollowed a couple of people, that were on the complete end to me of any Political, Spiritual or other type of Spectrum that you care to think of. When I unfollowed them something that I didn’t expect to happen, happened.
I slowly began to forget they existed. Not in the sense that if they appeared through a retweet or mention from someone else that I followed on Twitter, I wouldn’t recognise them but in the sense that I would stop and think to myself, “Oh yeah, I forgot about them”.
Often I would then go to see what they had been up to and I quickly remembered why I unfollowed them. But, it was refreshing to forget about these people and further confirmed the lie that I most certainly believed before, that I needed to see what they were saying.
Initially when you unfollow someone, you will be tempted to go back to get a hit of the anger that their Tweets caused, but over time you will literally forget about them. Out of your Twitter feed, out of mind I guess.
As I have continued to unfollow several people, I have found myself enjoying Twitter again. Unfollowing people is not the solution by any means but is certainly a sometimes necessary step in finding freedom from anger, a desire to be liked and a desire to cause emotion.
Now, there is the small matter that it is very likely that for someone reading this, I could be that person you need to unfollow. If you’ve got to the end of this post without feeling intense bursts of anger and the desire to leave an angry or passive aggressive comment, then good job.
But if you have those emotions right now, you have two options as I see it.
Sit with it and ask what is really behind what you’re feeling. It may be useful to you.
But if that is too hard, and honestly I don’t blame you if it is, then maybe choose to unfollow me.
You never know, you may even forget I exist.