Unfollowing :: Taking Back My Social Media Newsfeed

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Back when social media first started invading our lives, I had fun on Facebook.

“Yes, I’ll be your friend, person I don’t really remember from high school.”
“Yes, I’ll be your friend, neighbor from where I grew up 30 years ago.”
“Yes, I’ll be your friend, random connection from that party I attended.”

The permissions to engage came, and I willingly said “yes.”

Social media and fake news

Fast forward 10 years, and now I’m all about saying “no.” Well, not exactly “no,” but “unfollow.” That decision to unfollow many of those acquaintances was not made lightly. I firmly believe in listening to differing viewpoints and understanding perspectives that may be opposite of mine. Facebook often gives me the chance to hear those opinions.

What it also does is open the door to discover just how misinformation is so easily shared.

Just As Easy to Be Informed

Let me be clear: I don’t claim to be an expert on any particular subject. I do, however, fully own being informed about the opinions, posts, and “expertise” I share. While the Internet has made it easy to share falsehoods and misleading statements, it also makes it just as simple to be informed.

Social media and fake newsFor instance, a friend on Facebook shared another person’s statement about a recent presidential executive order to put a pause on all federal orders for 60 days. What she shared was a statement that said President Biden was controlled by PHARMA and was denying access to insulin. A simple search to find the text of the order revealed that President Biden did indeed sign an order that impacted how insulin was being made available through community health clinics. His order actually paused an action that those same community clinics were fighting NOT to implement because of the challenges it presented for distribution. This pause, in effect, allowed them to prepare for the distribution. It was not related to anything more sinister than that.

Unfollow, Not Unfriend

Do I believe my friend or her friend even bothered to investigate the headline they shared? Not at all. In fact, this particular friend has willingly shared all sorts of falsehoods and fake news stories. I began to judge her and question my friendship with her. Even though we are just friends from an earlier season of life, we were friends during a special time. I did not really want to give up the friendship. So rather than “unfriending” her, I have just “unfollowed” her. I’ll no longer see those posts that–to me–share misinformation. If I ever want to check in on her life, I can still do so. And she doesn’t even have to know that I have unfollowed her.

As the divisiveness of our nation has grown over the past few years, I have gradually changed my interactions on social media. I used to feel compelled to say “yes” to every friend request, to see what everyone said, and to even respond and share differing ideas.

I do not feel that way anymore.

I truly just want my social media feeds to feed my soul with joy, curiosity, and connection. I do not need them to be my news source or a place to educate myself. I know where to go for that information. Check out this interactive media bias chart if you’re seeking sources.

Social media–for me–is becoming truly social again.

Am I alone in this? Have you been using “unfollow” or other techniques to manage your feed? I would love to know how you are approaching socializing in our current digital space.

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Born in Wisconsin, Chris moved South with her family, first to Richmond, Virginia, and then to Birmingham when she was 12. She loves being a girl raised in the South, and her only remaining Midwestern traits are a love for the Packers and a fondness for bratwurst. In 2010, Chris reconnected with Christopher, a former Birmingham-Southern College classmate, after a random meeting in the cereal aisle at Publix. They married in 2011, not realizing that they were bringing together a perfect storm of teenage angst with their three children. Today, Chris is the center support that keeps the seesaw of her family balanced, leading a blended family of three young adults and enjoying an empty nest. Before the pandemic, most days were busy managing client relationships for a corporate event production company, but after six months of unemployment, she has become the parish administrator aka “the church lady” for her church. When she's not working, she loves reading a rich historical novel, volunteering with her sorority, and planning their next wine-tasting excursions.