Let’s be real: It hurts when someone unfollows you on Twitter. It really does. Because it’s basically like someone telling you, “Yo, I thought you were cool and had thoughts that were worth reading multiple times a day, but, oops, I guess I was wrong! Sowwy!”
There are a myriad of ways to feel rejected on the Internet. “Oh look, there’s pictures up on Facebook from the party I wasn’t invited to. Great!” Or, “This person I have a crush on just signed off G-chat in the middle of our conversation. That means he thinks I’m disgusting and never intends on seeing me naked, right?” But there’s something that feels ultra personal about getting unfollowed on Twitter. Because it’s essentially someone erasing you from their life in real time. Usually people drift apart naturally and it’s a slow dissolve but an unfollow on Twitter is an immediate nail in the coffin. You can’t get drinks after that! You can’t have a catch up lunch with this person knowing that they’ve deleted you from their digital realm AKA the only realm that seems to matter these days.
In the past, when I’ve unfollowed someone on Twitter, I’ve found myself literally forgetting that they exist. Isn’t that fucked up? Like, if the only thing keeping them in my life was their Twitter feed, an unfollow actually gets rid of them permanently. And then one day someone on my Twitter feed will retweet them and I’ll suddenly remember that they’re still alive and tweeting. Who knew an unfollow could wipe someone out forever?
If someone doesn’t ask you out on a second date, it stings but you realize that it’s because they weren’t attracted to you or whatever. That’s fine because you can’t help the way your face looks! Onward and upwards! When you break up with a friend, this is also painful but, again, there’s history there. You understand. Shit happens. People grow apart. Resentment grows. Whatever. Cut those toxic people out of your life! What’s so agonizing about a Twitter unfollow, what makes it feel so fucking personal, is that it’s so impersonal. This person doesn’t really know you but guess what? They don’t want to get to know you because they think your brain is bad news. Ouch. In the immortal words of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, “That’s way harsh, Tai.”
The boy I lost my virginity to unfollowed me on Twitter last year. I feel like I’ve already written about this but it bears another mention here because I was just so fucking devastated by it. I found out because I tried to DM him a song that I thought he would like but I couldn’t because, as we all know, you can’t send a DM to someone who doesn’t follow you back! I was outraged and embarrassed. I felt like I was a vampire getting denied entrance into someone’s home. “You’re not welcome here!” I immediately texted the dude and was like, “You unfollowed me on Twitter? Are you fucking kidding me?” To my surprise, he actually responded and said, “I’m sorry. I still care about you but I need to make a clean break. I hope you understand.”
I was hurt but then it dawned on me that I did understand. Of course I did. Without getting into too much detail, this dude and I had a terrible split and things weren’t really cool between us. So why should he have to read my musings on Amanda Bynes now? We live in an age where we feel guilt whenever we have to cut someone off but the reality is that some relationships do need to die, some people do need to be unfollowed and defriended. We aren’t meant to be this tethered to the people in our past. The Internet mandates that we don’t burn bridges and keep everyone around like relics but those expectations are unrealistic and unhealthy. Simply put, we don’t need to know what everyone else is up to. We’re allowed to be choosy about who we surround ourselves with online and in real life, even if it might hurt people’s feelings.
We weren’t meant to carry all this weight around on our backs. If you need to cut the fat, if you need to unfollow, if you need to erase, just do it. Because what’s more important: keeping yourself happy or appeasing your ex-best friend from middle school?