Special disclaimer for attractive girls: good news, none of what I’m about to say applies to you, so you can just skip ahead to the end or read another of my posts or go back to taking selfies or whatever it is you do between getting hit on and tanning.
Everyone else, buckle in, because you need to hear this. I might’ve just unfollowed you on Twitter or Instagram or Google+ (ha just kidding about that last one, I don’t even know how to activate Google+…unless wait, is this it? Are we on Google+ right now? Is me typing this going to be in one of their sad commercials?).
I love you.
(I figure if they do use this in a Google+ commercial, me typing “I love you” is the part they’ll wanna use, for the strong emotional context it provides. I don’t really love you, but I do like you, and I’m glad we’re friends. Unless we’re strangers, but that’s cool too because it’s the internet and nothing bad ever happens from meeting strangers on the internet)
But I digress.
I interact a lot with social media. If this were a real news column written by a person in their 40s trying to connect with a younger generation, they would try to work in the term “power user” to describe me. But it’s me, so I’m not gonna do that. What I will say is that at my house, we now refer to the bathroom as the instagram room. So make of that what you will.
Bearing that in mind, understand that I take the content that pops up in my various social media feeds pretty seriously. Although really I have the same standards for social media as I do for any other form of media (i.e. primarily to be entertained, secondarily to hear how badly my sports teams are playing), so in the same way that I’m not going to sit through an episode of Two and a Half Men just because my buddy is a line producer or because my girlfriend “swears there’s a good part coming up,” I don’t wanna have to sift through 31 pictures of food and 19 reposted internet memes to get to something I actually find interesting, just because I know the person who took the food picture.
So if you just checked to see whether or not I unfollowed you (don’t pretend like you didn’t at least think about checking) and now you’re lost in a world of darkness and chaos, trying to make sense of how to put your life back together after this devastating news, here’s a few of the top reasons I click the unfollow button:
• Overwhelming negativity.
Do you wake up on the wrong side of the bed so regularly that it’s not clear if you even have a right side? Do you have a case of the Mondays…every day? Is your glass only half full because you’re saving some of your drink to throw in somebody’s face? If any of this sounds like you, you might be a redneck — er sorry, I mean you might be overly negative. If you hate everything, that’s your prerogative, but I like to actually enjoy my life, since I don’t have a better alternative. You can call me childish, naive or cliché, but frankly the world has enough negativity in it to begin with, and I don’t need to include anything that’s gonna add to that inherent negativity so regularly.
• So. Many. Tweets.
There’s a 140 character limit for a reason. If you need 16 tweets to get your point across, maybe put it on facebook or write a really long-winded blog (it works for me!). Same with instagram; one picture of your feet by the pool, fine (overdone and wildly uninteresting, but fine). Seven pictures of your desk bobblehead and nine different angles of your coffee cup, knock it off. This also applies to anyone sending 400 retweets at a time into my stream.
• Overly Political/Religious.
Okay if it’s November in an election year, and you wanna give your candidate a shoutout for support, by all means, do your thing. If it’s the middle of April and you’re just SO ENRAGED THAT COUNTY COMMISSIONER SO AND SO WOULD DO THAT TO ME/US/THEM!! Then maybe save it for your spouse or significant other — it’s their job to smile and nod while you rant about something irrelevant, not ours. When I say “religious” here what I’m talking about is anyone constantly trying to shove their own worldview down your throat without reason or any openminded dialogue available (so yes, atheists, I count you as religious, too). Just an endless stream of “I’m right, everyone else is wrong.”
• Too emo, too often.
Hey, I get it, you just broke up with your girlfriend, you’ve got Dashboard Confessional on repeat and you feel that hands down, you deserve to scream some infidelities by tweeting lyrics that really showcase how you’re feeling. Fine. Fast forward six months and if you’re nonstop tweeting every single Jimmy Eat World song in chronological order or every other tweet is hashtagged #ForeverAlone with a single-tear emoji, maybe it’s time to seek professional help instead of online affirmation. By the way I love both of those bands.
• ALL the inside jokes.
Everyone has them, and nothing says “hey, these are the people I like more than you” than posting some inside jokes on your social media. But when every tweet is a “you had to be there” tweet, that’s when it becomes a less appealing follow. At least mix it up every once in a while so the rest of us can feel like we’re in on the joke, too.
• …And you are?
Did we have one Spanish class together my freshman year of college? Were you the best friend of the roommate of a girl I dated six years ago? Yeah, I wish you well, but I probably don’t have a real vested interest in your personal life. A good rule of thumb is if I run into you in real life and you don’t recognize me or say hi, then I probably don’t need to keep tabs on your social media.
There are other things that can land you in my unfollow bin as well, but those are the biggies. Now here’s a few important things to keep in mind: just because we’re not social media buddies, doesn’t mean I don’t like you. In fact, I might like you a lot, but maybe your brand of social media output just doesn’t jive with my desired social media intake. And that’s okay. You still have value as a person and lots of talent in other ares, maybe just your discretion with posting cat pics you found on the internet needs a little work. Also remember that this is all subjective, just because you’re not my cup of digital tea doesn’t mean that you won’t delight millions of other followers with your vast knowledge of Taylor Swift lyrics. I can guarantee you that for every follower I have, there are probably a dozen people who roll their eyes and click unfollow every time I post a self-serving joke or one of my trademark puns.
The advent of facebook (and MySpace before that) was that it created this kind of thing where you were connected to the person you added — by accepting them you automatically created a mutual openness with them. It was by default a two-way street. And then twitter and instagram and similar services came around and following someone else didn’t make them automatically follow you back…yet there’s this feeling of a sort of social media obligation that you SHOULD follow them. While there are instances where that’s true (if you’re married, it’s kind of a dick move not to follow your wife back…but maybe that makes for a healthier relationship), as well as exceptions (I’m not really expecting Alison Brie to follow me back anytime soon, nor do I really care if my favorite sports team accounts follow me or not), for me the biggest thing is to cultivate an environment of enjoyment, where I’m actually appreciating all or most of the content I’m seeing rather than just scrolling past the posts I know I won’t care about. If that sounds selfish to you…well that’s because it is. This is social media, people, not American armed services or a We Are the World music video — it’s okay to exclude people just because you want to. This is the same medium where a Will Ferrell parody account has more followers than The Pope; the normal rules don’t apply here. Except for attractive girls, the rules for them are all the same (loads of attention and privilege for no apparent reason…seriously attractive girls why are you still reading this? Just go have fun and be pretty. You won’t have to develop a personality until you hit 40 anyway).
And don’t worry, even if I’m not following you anywhere, at least we’ll still be friends on facebook.
Do you like me giving partially-hypocritcal advice on social media? Well maybe you’ll like this post about the nine phrases you need to stop using in your bio…