Sunday, 9 April 2017

A letter to ostentatious unfollowers


Dear ostentatious unfollower,

I know from my Facebook statistics that on average several dozen people unfollow my Facebook page per day. With almost 300,000 followers this kind of churn is to be expected. The vast majority of people who unfollow my page do so without making a big song and dance about it, but then every so often there's one like you who feels the need to ostentatiously announce that you're unfollowing my page with a temper tantrum and a hail of insults.

I know what motivates you to flounce off like this, but I haven't got a clue what you think this kind of "I'm flouncing off now" announcement is actually going to achieve.

Your motivation for stropping off is beyond obvious. You're the kind of person who is so insecure that you can't tolerate things that challenge your pre-existing biases. Presumably you began following my page because you mistakenly believed it was the kind of page that would massage your ego by confirming your pre-existing opinions, but now I've posted something that you don't agree with. Rather than just think something like "I didn't agree with that one, I hope he returns to writing content I agree with soon" you feel the need to not only remove my page from your social media feed, but also publicly announce that you're running away too.

The problem is that you want your social media feed to be a pure echo chamber that never challenges your opinions. You want to like in a closed ideological bubble because you hate the feeling of cognitive dissonance, and rather than deal with it like an adult (by thinking about the seemingly contradictory ideas to either disprove one of them, or to find a way of reconciling them) you're running away like a coward.

The thing that baffles me about people like you is not that you're running away. I don't expect anyone to agree with everything I write and nobody is obligated to follow my page. The thing I can't figure out is what you think you are achieving by having such a tantrum about it instead of just quietly leaving like the vast majority of unfollowers do.

What's the actual purpose?


If you think that flouncing off in a tide of insults is going to make me change my opinions and offer content that is more suited to your worldview, you couldn't be more wrong. I have the editorial freedom to write what I want, when I want. I don't tailor my content to suck up to any particular group of people, and especially not people who have just flounced off from my page and slung a load of insults at me in the process.

If you think anyone else cares that you're announcing your intention to create yourself a pure social media echo chamber where you never see anything that challenges your worldview, you're also wrong. You're just making a fool of yourself in public by having a public tantrum about an action (unfollowing a social media page) that almost everyone else is capable of doing on a regular basis without feeling the need to make such a pathetic spectacle of themselves in the process.

My best guess is that you think that flouncing off in a hail of insults and abuse is an inspirational thing to do. You're imagining yourself as some kind of glorious revolutionary hero who is taking a brave stand against the tyranny of facts, information and analysis that you don't like aren't you?

 You're imagine that by publicly announcing that you're unfollowing my page, you're going to inspire hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of others to follow your lead.

You're imagining that by publicly announcing that you're stropping off you're somehow punishing me for daring to present facts or analyses that you don't like by inspiring loads of other people to follow your inspirational lead by quitting my page too.

The problem for you is that you're doing nothing of the sort. For every one person who does a public flounce like you, hundreds of others begin following my page.

You're not hurting me, and even if you do inspire a few others to flounce off too, you're actually doing me a favour. My page doesn't exist just to massage people's egos by confirming their pre-existing opinions. If people are such fragile little buttercups that they can't tolerate opinions that don't match their own, they're no use to me (or to themselves for that matter). They're bound to eventually run away from something I say, so by inspiring them to leave early you're doing me a favour.

In conclusion I'm glad you've gone. I don't actually want to be part of your social media echo chamber. I don't exist just to confirm your pre-existing biases. In fact it makes me feel a bit sick that I ever was part of your pathetic little ideological bubble in the first place.

There never really was any point in you following my page at all if you're not open to new facts and ideas, if you're incapable of critical thinking, and if you're afraid of considering opinions that don't match your own. You were never going to learn anything new from it anyway, so there never really was no point in you following it.

So good luck purifying your social media echo chamber. I hope you one day achieve your ambition of never being confronted by facts and opinions that don't match your own so that you can live in a gloriously pure ideological bubble.

Goodbye (and please stick to your word and actually leave instead of coming back again and again to try to have the last word like so many of your flouncy predecessors have)

Tom (Another Angry Voice)


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