Your dose of social commentary on social from VP of Marketing & Customers Aana Leech.
This wasn’t my idea. I saw it on Twitter. Someone I followed liked this tweet and it showed up on my feed:
At the start it felt like a nice experiment. Now it feels like a necessary act.
Social media makes it easy to get caught in patterns of behavior. It’s what the algorithms are designed to do. We forget that our choices oftentimes aren’t really our choices at all. I recently heard that upwards of 80% of Netflix’s streamed videos were recommended by their algorithm. WHAT?!
It started to feel more necessary for me to take a look at my Instagram feed, the app that consistently takes the top spot on my weekly screen time report.
For context, I use Instagram less to stay in touch with my close friends and more to stay inspired and discover new trends from trusted sources. My interests expand and contract from time-to-time. When I was pregnant – my feed was full of pregnant ladies, showing me what was what in fashion, baby, and pregnancy. Post pregnancy I returned to my staples: fashion, architecture, lifestyle, and Chicago.
In the wake of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the focus on black business and life, I, a black woman, started to take stock of the environments I had created for myself online. Objectively, I had created a world that was not representative of the intersections of my identity. It was dominated by white voices and white perspectives. This does not mean that these perspectives were or are bad, but because of how the algorithms reinforce your existing interests I had unintentionally limited the diversity of perspectives, trends, and people that I could draw inspiration from. So I unfollowed everyone.
I’m slowly, and more intentionally, building back up who I follow on Instagram. I don’t have any specific or scientific process that I’m following. I only have a heightened awareness that the world I create for myself online requires my attention, because it’s so easy to be swept up in a sea of the same.
Since I decided to unfollow everyone, a couple of things have happened. Most importantly, I’m much less precious about the unfollow button. If I’ve outgrown content from a person or a brand that I follow, I’ll save my favorites for future reference and unfollow the account. If I constantly search for your handle in the explore page, I’ll add you back – I’m looking at you @aliverescue.
At a deeper level, I believe the act of unfollowing has changed my relationship with social ever so slightly. I do have some agency over what I see on social and a big part of it is predicated on that little blue button. Asserting that awareness has made my time on Instagram less about passive consumption and more about active exploration. I’m excited to discover the people and perspectives that I’ve been missing out on.
If you’re feeling weird about social but don’t want to cut the cord – unfollow everyone. You’ll feel better and you might discover something new to inspire you.
Aana sort-of-kind-of writes things that people read. If you want to be one of those people, follow her on Twitter or sign-up for her newsletter.