Hear Me Out: It’s Literally Fine to Unfollow Whoever You Want on Social Media

Hear Me Out Its Literally Fine to Unfollow Whoever You Want on Social Media
Photo: Getty Images

This week, news broke that model Gigi Paris, the ex-girlfriend of Set It Up and Top Gun: Maverick star Glen Powell, had unfollowed Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney after Sweeney (allegedly) started dating Powell. If you, like me, are pushing 30, you might be wondering why you should care about literally any of this—and honestly, you shouldn’t. But it does bring up an issue that’s become near and dear to my heart of late: to unfollow or not to unfollow?

This certainly isn’t the first time the issue has surfaced in pop culture: After Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s recent breakup, the pop star’s brother (and...actor Ryan Reynolds?) reportedly unfollowed Alwyn on Instagram. Of course, they’re all hot famous people, so it makes sense that people are following their social media habits, but why am I subjecting myself to the same standard every time I get the urge to unfollow someone?

I would not call my social media presence curated in any way, shape, or form; I didn’t start using Instagram until 2018, and then, as now, I mostly used it to post unflattering photos of curries I’d cooked. These days, my feed can get a little chaotic. This used to mean a whole lot of blurry party shots from people I vaguely remembered meeting and exchanging handles with (often at those selfsame blurry parties), but now, as I approach my previously mentioned 30s, I’m basking in a whole lot of love, as pretty much everyone I follow appears to have made a pact to get engaged this year.

Now don’t get me wrong; I love love, and I genuinely can’t wait to dance all night at the upcoming weddings of the people who are actually in my life. When it comes to windswept-mountaintop-proposal shots from cishet couples I barely recognize but for some reason follow, though, I’m a little less interested, especially as I try to feel affirmed in my LGBTQ+ identity while living in a largely conservative state. For the first time, I actually want to prune my feed to show me more of my queer and trans friends’ photos and less birth announcements from straight girls I went to camp with two decades ago—but when I started unfollowing the many, many people I’d maintained a tenuous connection with for years, I started to feel vaguely...bad about it?

Unlike Paris, I’m not in the habit of unfollowing exes and their new paramours—if I did, who else would I even be posting my carefully edited thirst traps and byline brags for?—but I’m starting to wholeheartedly support the practice of unfollowing in general, partly because I was discomfited by the initial weirdness I felt about it. I doubt that anyone was hinging their self-worth on my follow, and given that I have plenty of real things to feel guilty about (I feel like I’ve been recycling incorrectly for the last year and a half?), I’ve decided simply not to lend much thought to unfollowing near strangers.

Of course, everyone responds to social media content differently, and if you do feel anxious seeing pics of your onetime love and their new boo cavorting about town together, I highly endorse unfollowing them both without worrying about whether they’re secretly talking shit about you in the aftermath. Sure, you could just mute them, which would keep anyone’s feathers from being ruffled, but sometimes I think that we worry about obeying some tacit social media code of conduct at the expense of our own mental health. If the relationship isn’t serving you, why hang onto it at all? Social media is getting less social by the click, after all; if you genuinely feel better without someone’s internet presence coming anywhere close to yours, give yourself permission to cut the cord.

I eventually hope to work up to a full social media cleanse, but for now I’ll content myself with unfollowing with abandon until I’m staring at an Instagram feed that actually...shows me what my friends are up to, just as it was foretold in The Social Network. (This goes double for Twitter, but honestly, throw the whole site away.)