Why I Unfollowed Everyone On Instagram by Keith Smith

It was a gloomy afternoon in Miami, Florida, after a long day of class at “The U”. The date? October 12th, 2018. The crime? I had just unfollowed everyone on Instagram. Yes, I unfollowed every single account and no, I did not make any exceptions. From the second I did it, to this very day, people have been asking me why on earth I unfollowed them on Instagram out of nowhere like that. People have been confronting me left and right and I’m shocked by how much people really care about getting hit with that unfollow button. After all, it is only a button. So, why did I do it? Many expect a simple answer but in reality I had many reasons for flipping the switch. I despise how much my decision has affected my relationships in real life, and some of the social changes that will surely affect the future of our society, but I do not regret my decision one bit. I remember hearing at a seminar once that “time is not money, time is precious.” and my decision has allowed me to get a lot of my precious time back. Not only did my decision win me back my precious time, but it has also allowed me to live a much happier and healthier life.

The Trap

How much time do you spend on Instagram every day? For me, it is still at over an hour a day and I am disgusted by the amount of time I spend on the app. Whatever the number is for you, it is probably higher than you would like for it to be or higher than it should be for optimum productivity. We often catch ourselves on Instagram (or any other social media app) at the dinner table, while we are at work, and sadly even on the road from time to time (yes, I’ve seen it before). If you happen to notice how often you’re on social media, have you actually taken some time to observe how it is affecting your decision-making, your relationships, and your self-esteem? When I decided to really give it a thought, as ridiculous as it may seem, I found that I was doing much more harm to myself than help. Neither did seeing influencers at yacht parties a few miles away nor did watching videos of Instagram models on the beaches of Brazil halfway across the world, ever do much to make me feel good about being stuck in the library on a Saturday afternoon. In fact, sometimes I’d feel like a loser, or as if I were unsuccessful. In reality, I was doing everything I needed to do in order to achieve my goals. When I took inventory of how often I was actually emotionally affected by these curated glimpses of perfection, I noticed it was quite too often. It was every weekend, if not every day. Feelings of low self-worth, uncertainty, and massive FOMO, had taken control of my life and I was lost in the algorithm, scrolling for more.  

The Escape

Eventually, I had enough and decided to make a change in my usage of the social media app that we have all come to respect and love over its years of ceaseless reign. I thought about it for hours, on the rooftop of my apartment building, pondering on whether or not it was the right move to make. Then, it commenced. I started unfollowing users one by one, picking them out at first, then quickly realizing that I should go all the way and just let my timeline be blank once again. By the end of a few hundred un-follows, I remembered that I had a bot that I could use… For anyone not immersed in the digital marketing space, that means I that I realized I was wasting my precious time. As ironic as that was, I immediately ran downstairs and opened my laptop to have my favorite Instagram automation tool complete this dreadful task for me, relieving myself of the time and the blame for this “atrocity”. Finally, I posted an Instagram story explaining to all of my followers why and how I had done it. The response? Well, let’s just say it wasn’t very supportive. I started losing tens of followers and started receiving startling DM’s from people I consider my friends. People thought it meant that I do not care about them or do not look up to them for the great things that they have accomplished. People thought that I hate them or that I never want to hear from them again. These thoughts were not only articulated online but it even happened in person, yet these thoughts could not be any further from the truth. This reaction only further validated my reasoning and made me feel good about detaching myself from the deceitful platform. It made me feel good that my decision to go against the grain can prove how much the click of a button can affect our daily lives and relationships. The only thing that hurt me after that, was how unaware people are of this phenomena. With such little research to support the changes taking place, I hope that this short read helps put things into perspective.

Now listen, I don’t suggest that everybody unfollow each other on Instagram, but what I do suggest is that you take the time to carefully consider whose content shows up on your timeline. Are the accounts that you follow helping you or are they hurting you? Are they providing valuable information that allows you to conquer new goals and reach new heights (both in business and in life) or are they simply posting about all the fun they have or the nice things that they buy? It can be a tough question to ask yourself when referring to the content of your own friends and family, but I recommend that you use those questions as a test for each and every account that you follow. Ask yourself if you are using Instagram to reach new goals in your business or if Instagram is using your business to reach its goals at Facebook. In the end, it is not only your time, money, or follower count that is at stake here, but also your mental health and overall wellbeing.