The Unfollow Button
Hi. My name is @jackicarr. I mean, just Jacki. My real name is Jacki.
And I am an instagram addict, an over-comapar-er, a judgemental judger and I am sensitive.
One day, not today, I will clock how many minutes I spend scrolling through instagram. Why not today, you ask? Because I am truly scared of how many hours....errr, I mean (I hope) only minutes I will spend on it.
So today (and yesterday and everyday, really), I am scrolling and trolling the grams. I double tap here, share a heart emoji there, click on her profile and perhaps choose to unfollow that guy. The usual. Yes, I am 30 why do you ask? Oh, the heart emojis. Makes sense. Anyways, I found myself in a pattern where I have been going to my home page to refresh. I get that wheel spinning, excited with anticipation, and I look to see how many likes or followers I have currently. Of course, this all depends how long it has been since I posted a photo - now that really messes with my ratio of iPhone checking.
So I scroll to refresh and I noticed I had lost a follower. And then two followers. And then I check again and I am at a total of six unfollows a couple minutes later.
That's right. People....errr, users/profiles/handles had just up and left me. And because it has already been happening a couple of days in a row, I began to assess the thoughts I was thinking when the number started to drop.
The thoughts went like this:
"WTF. People don't like me."
"This must be like Facebook where people are deactivating their accounts. There you go. It's so not me."
"They came. They saw. They totally unfollowed."
"Okay, let me see here. Was it the over-posting of my fiance and being in love? Let me scroll back a bit, is that caption too cheesy? Maybe I should post more dog photos, more nature photos, more goal setting memes - those seem to be winners."
"Ok, let me go stalk a few other users I know, see what they are doing 'right'." Yep, I wrote 'stalk'.
And the analysis went on and on and on. And in a moment, a light bulb lit over my head and I realized how absolutely ridiculous I was being assessing my likeability and worth in conjunction with instagram likes and un-followers. Some of these people pressing the unfollow button I don't even know. And some of them I do know and they just don't enjoy the #RUNSTOPDANCE videos. I get it, not for everyone.
I have come to the conclusion that social media is so weird. It effs with your (my) emotions, your (my) thoughts on belonging and the whole instant gratification thing is creating an actually weird pattern with your (my) patience. It takes me back when I was in grade school and I would throw a crumpled letter across the classroom to my might-just-be-my-everything crush in English class, reading 'do you like me?'. You know with the 'yes' or 'no' as the options to circle. Note: I always added the option of 'maybe', just to help ease the blow to my all too fragile-teenage-angst-ridden-gnarly-dont-care-but-i-do-care-so-much heart (or, ego).
Question: Is it just me, am I the only one that has this weird obsession and connection to the followers thing?
And yes, in case you are wondering, I am acutely aware that this is part of the instagram scheme. And yes again, I am so annoyed with myself for buying into it.
So to rock some self-help on myself, I have been (trying to) flip the perspective and play some mind games. I look at the number of people who did like my instagram photo in that moment of photo posting and I say 'thank you'. I look at the followers I do have and I say 'hey, glad you are here'.
And then, I sit here and realize in my flipped perspective, I am thanking numbers on a small screen. I am being ridiculous, yet again. I am talking to my iPhone as if these are real people sitting with me in the present moment liking my photos, my memories or my memes. As if they are all circling 'yes' and throwing that crumpled paper back across the room.
So here I go begging the question (again), are we real people on instagram?
In all honesty, am I being real on instagram? Or, am I posting for likes? Check yes or no. Am I posting to fit in? Add a filter. Am I posting to be cool?
Or, are we living into this computer personality thing where you get to be, act, comment, 'like' as if your were someone else, filtered and cropped? Remember those AOL chat rooms in the 90s and the horror stories? Or that cyber game (The Sims) where you created a town online, you could literally live in a different world for 4 hours? I recently read about cyber bullying, oh my.
And I know this question has been asked again and again.
However, writing it out allows me to hear it and feel it. And it allows me to get into inquiry about how this space is serving me or if it is not?
I will confess, my line is getting really, really blurry between the real world and the cyber world.
I mean, real blurry.
(picks up phone to check instagram).