#Unfollows a Form of Rejection?

Recently, against my better judgement, I downloaded an app that tracks and reports Instagram unfollowers. Why? Well, a friend on Twitter mentioned she had recently done it out of curiosity and so I think that pressured me. I’m not quite sure why, but it rattled me. Am I shallow? It’s bizarre, and I picture my mom rolling her eyes, but it’s an odd psychology. Many of us use social to maintain relationships with those we care about, although we may never interact. In short, we just accumulate contacts, then never engage them.

Social psychologist Kip Williams says social media friends and followers are not entirely frivolous. Friends or followers are just one of the ways that we build our sense of inclusion in the online social system, which we then equate to our sense of self-worth. Williams says that losing followers can affect people much like any form of rejection a.k.a. it has the potential to cause us pain, challenge our self-esteem, and sense of control. The rejection may be especially noteworthy now that Instagram allows us to mute people we don’t want to see on our feeds.

It’s been several days now, and I’ve been introspective and still haven’t concluded if losing these followers (IRL friends and unknown acquaintances) is upsetting because I use it as a social status to validate myself or if I perceive the unfriending as a critique of my own curated identity.

Do you have thoughts about being unfollowed on social media?

Featured image by Jakob Owens via Unsplash

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