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Would I be offended if a friend unfollowed me on Instagram?

Fuck Yes.

Would be my quick answer.

But let’s dive into where the issue lies, and when you shouldn’t be offended - and how to deal with it if you are.

First of all,

have these in mind as we go through the issue:

  1. Actions reflect emotions.

  2. It’s easier to be happy for others when you’re happy.

  3. People prefer positive news over negative.

  4. Avoidance is a common tool for saving energy.

  5. People save energy when weak, in need of help, healing & restoration.

You probably see where I’m going with this. But let me explain how these points are connected to my answer.

What’s a friend?

First of all, there is a difference in friend and a friend. And although the scale is much wider and complicated, let’s simplify it to save some of your time:

I have my very close friends; closer because of many shared memories and / or long history of building a relationship, and more frequent personal communication.

And then I have my friends. Not so close, but we’re there for one another and check in occasionally, meet up more or less once or twice a year. There is no conflict or anything, just life and priorities getting in our way. The reunions are cheerful and appreciated.

It starts with you

When a friend unfollowed me on Instagram, I was first offended and saddened. Not gonna lie.

But then I asked myself why.

Does she not wanna be part of my life?

Is our friendship over?

Have I done something to aggravate her?

Then I turned it around and asked myself:

Why do I follow the people I follow,

and why do I unfollow people?

Because I do.

And the reasons I have are:

  • They are not posting enough or providing me with inspiration or any insight into their life, nor are they engaging with me.

  • Their content makes me sad.

  • They are not using their social media any more.

  • They are no longer friends of mine.

My action reflects how I feel.

If I’m not


invested in,



treated like a friend offline,

It’s an unfollow for me.

I’m not gonna apologize for it.

And neither should you.

Ergo, I can’t really be offended if someone unfollows me.

Because it goes both ways.

So, let’s continue to do our thing and focus on the people still in our lives and social media.

The But

However, if a close friend of mine would unfollow me..

Then I would be really worried.

Not about our friendship, but about that person.

In that case, I urge you to pick up the phone and check in with them.

Because the only reason I would unfollow a close friend

- not counting deactivating or pausing my account -

would be if I was in such an unhappy state, I couldn’t be happy for & with them.

It's hard to be happy for others when you're unhappy with yourself.

In that case, I would need that check-in call.

How to train the algorithm in your favor

We all know the mighty algorithm. Some people show up in your feed more often than others because we tend to engage more or less with people throughout the year, and depending on the frequency of their activity.

It is so much more fun to share the positive news on social media. Which tends to create a feed with abundance of happiness, skewing the reality of people's lives.

If you’ve had a specific person showing up a lot lately, whose posts make you unhappy - ask yourself how you are feeling in general and why this person specifically awakens this unhappiness. If it feels right - then unfollow.

But please be aware that you are communicating to that person:

“I no longer see any relationship or collaboration developing with you in the near future.”

I'm not saying you feel that way: I'm saying how your action might be perceived.

Although I would at first argue you should see your social media feed like Marie Kondo sees a home: keep what brings you joy,

it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Because joy is not a fixed state, and humans are complicated animate creatures with which we form and develop dynamic relationships.

So don’t unfollow without a second thought and look into yourself, as well as where you see yourself in the future.

If you are unsure, try this instead: Scroll through the accounts you are following, and press on those you haven't seen from in a while. Visiting their profile and liking their recent photo will help train the algorithm to show a wider variety in your feed.

Editor's note:

This text expresses my personal view, which I would never expect anyone to share.

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