When I first started out on Instagram, I used a hashtag which I thought was a community driven one (you know, kinda the whole point of Instagram). It wasn’t the name of the person who started it, so I used it. The person who created it contacted me asking to stop using it. I was profusely apologetic and removed all traces of it from my Instagram.
I’ve unfollowed people in the past for whatever reason, be it that our Instagram relationship lacks engagement, I don’t like their style, I don’t like their attitude or they’ve simply followed me to unfollow me. For the record, I have never done the follow/unfollow method. Some people have called me out on it and in the interest of community, I have refollowed them not really what to do or say cos it’s awkward AF.
I run another Instagram account which is for empowering, inspiring and supporting women. I’ve been sent threatening and abusive messages on that account for using a hashtag which is a common hashtag. Granted, that person has always used it but it’s not unique to them or particularly unusual in terms of what it is. I was tempted to stop using the hashtag. I didn’t want the hassle or the continual threats or the dread I felt when I saw they’d sent another message to me. I tried to explain to the person that the whole point of Instagram and hashtags are to bring people, accounts, posts together.That this is what it’s all about. They thought that we were ‘riding on their coattails’ when really it was about growing a hashtag which identifies with our brand. Ultimately benefitting them too. They didn’t see this and so it ended with me having to report their abusive messages to Instagram and blocking them. Not problem solved, as such, but it meant that I didn’t have to wake up in the morning and have my stomach drop seeing messages telling me I would regret using the hashtag (seriously, it’s a fucking HASHTAG). Being that the nature of the Instagram account I use is for meet ups, I didn’t want that person turn up at the meet and have a confrontation over a fucking hashtag.
Today, I unfollowed someone else. I do it occasionally, as mentioned above. The person commented on one of my posts saying I’d got too big for them. They’re a much bigger account than me, I’ve never participated in their hashtag, they’ve never commented before, I’ve never tagged them in anything, I’ve never met them. Why do they care? And why do they feel the need to say that they know I’ve unfollowed? I thought about doing what I have done before – apologising, saying some bullshit about how I didn’t mean to. But then I thought: why? Why should I feel pressurised and forced into following someone I don’t want to follow, just for a quiet life without starting a comment war?
We’re growing up in this digital age where people behind computer screens (and yes, I realise the irony of writing this post but I really want this to reach people as I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way) think that they can bully, threaten and spout bullshit to people they don’t know. Time is precious and the growing Instagram community means that I spend more and more time looking through people’s posts, trying to like and thoughtfully comment on people’s accounts who I feel deserve that time. I’ve had to give up on Stories altogether as I was becoming less and less present in my own life spending too much time looking through this digital world. And that’s without even thinking about Facebook and Twitter and all the other social media platforms which are available to us.
So, I’m calling bullshit. If you want to follow someone, follow them. If you want to unfollow someone, unfollow them. If you want to use a hashtag, use a hashtag. If you want to use social media for trolling, don’t be a cunt.
Update: before I’ve even published this, they have deleted their comments. Sometimes you just need to take a stand.
💛 the wee food blogger