Stop the #HateFollow
The hate follow is kind of like the cousin twice-removed of the pity fuck.
How many times have you thought something mean, rolled your eyes or shook your head at a photo posted on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?
If you are a social media user, then it’s highly likely that you have ugh-ed or ew-ed at something in someone’s feed before. Duh, you’re human.
But how often is this sentiment directed at the same person over and over again? What is really going on when one person’s particular posts repeatedly elicit such visceral reaction from you yet you continue to follow them?
This is what I mean by the hate follow. You follow someone yet you resent him or her with each post. You’re repeatedly triggered by the content in his or her feed. You continue to follow, yet you find yourself regularly directing negativity toward this person or thing. Basically, it’s like the least fun drinking game ever: when you see a photo, you take a sip of haterade.
Maybe you can’t tear your eyes away because it’s so bad, that it’s so good; sort of like rubbernecking an accident on a highway (see: @slutwhisperer). Or, due to some societal norm, you feel pressure to follow people who are a part of your own personal Kevin Baconverse. Maybe you think it’s better to follow your best friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s sister than risk hurting her feelings.
But what you might not have considered is how that girl would feel if she knew what you did when you saw an image in her feed. And if you’re worried about what she would think if you unfollowed her, just consider how terrible she would feel if she knew what you were really thinking and feeling every time you saw her posts. With that much yucking of her yums, she probably would prefer you didn’t follow her at all.
See, every time we spew negativity at someone’s photo, we are taking a minimum of a second out of our day to be highly judgmental, maybe even mean. That single second you’re wasting to scoff at someone’s post is a waste of a second that could have been used for something more technologically positive like shooting a text to some you love to express your gratitude for their existence or becoming a much needed upstander.
Following is like endorsing. And we all know endorsement means a show of public support and/or official approval. So what’s the point in following someone that you’re unofficially disapproving of?
There’s no point.
If we have virtual beef with someone, it probably says more about our own opinions and values than it does about theirs. If we are turned off by humblebrags or gratuitous babygrams, then it’s probably worth considering what about these posts irk us. If we can’t stand how someone shares his or her love, joy, habits, accomplishments, or travels, then we need to stop looking at their feeds and start looking at ourselves.
You know that thing your grandmother used to say “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all?” Well, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t follow at all.
See, when it comes to following another human on social media, we can control how susceptible we are to our own negativity. So few things in life can be fixed with the push of a button, but this is certainly one of them.
So, I’m going to propose a challenge and I hope you will accept. Every time we have an overly negative response to more than one of someone’s photos, we are going to unfollow that person, regardless of social pressures and expectations. We are going to clean up our actions by cleaning up our virtual “friend” list.
Because after all, we follow to like.
I don’t know why we would ever follow to hate.