#DontFollowThenUnfollow

You know who you are. Please stop.

(Hashtag credit to This Bird’s Day.)

I could write for DAYS about my opinions on social media, and the negative turn it’s taken in the past few years. It’s a popularity contest. It’s a numbers game. It’s a strategy. It’s selfish. It’s so far from being a “community” that we can barely call it “social” anymore.

Despite this, Instagram is my favourite platform. It’s become the ultimate tool for amateur and professional photographers to share their work, which I think is great. I’m all for sharing art, creative projects, thoughts, feelings, and whatever else people want to put out into the world.

What I’m not OK with is how it’s morphed into a numbers and status game for so many people, and seems to be getting further and further away from being a community of artists that share work for the sake of sharing meaningful things.

If I follow you, it’s because I’m going to enjoy seeing your photos in my feed. If at some point I stop wanting to see your photos, I will un-follow you. And I expect you would do the same. That’s fair game.

What’s not fair game is following as many people as you can in one sitting, and waiting for them to follow back, so you can instantly unfollow them all.

Sadly, this is labeled as a top Instagram “tip” to grow your fanbase — having significantly more followers than followees (?) makes you look superior, as far as the social media world is concerned. It gives the impression that 1000’s of people love your work enough to follow it, while you’re too good to follow anyone else, as they’re all below you. Well, all of us down here? We’ve caught on, and it makes you look super fucking selfish.

But ok — I get it if you’re just starting out on some niche passion project and need to follow friends to raise awareness, but later realize you only want to follow a certain type of account. That’s cool — I understand. But when people with relatively normal accounts use this on a regular basis…it makes me downright mad. But more so, it makes me sad.

What have our priorities come to? Do we really care about looking “successful” with numbers more than we care about putting out quality content? Do we not want to genuinely support each other by giving and receiving praise on content that we appreciate? What’s the point if the act of creating a social community isn’t a priority because we’re so focused on getting to the “top”, and just screwing everyone over along the way?

I’m not perfect. I’ve gotten caught up in the numbers. But never, ever would I continuously follow others for the sake of obtaining their praise, when I’m not willing to offer any in return. I think we all need to take a step back and figure out why we’re posting. Why we’re sharing. What methods we’re using to be seen. There’s got to be a better way.