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Why does it feel so bad when an online “friend” unfollows you?

We live in a world of likes. We live in a world where hearts and double-taps justify our self image and a specific number of comments on our post can confirm our purpose on this earth. We've been shaped by the digital age to believe that our follower count equates to our worth. And I've bought into this - hook, line, and sinker.

I currently have a little over 300k followers on all of my digital platforms combined. I own a marketing company, so it would be a little odd if I had anything less. I pride myself on attracting a targeted audience and keeping them around to engage. I'll be the first to admit, as a four on the enneagram, I get pretty attached to those people that interact with my account.

Maybe it's because I feel validated by them. Maybe it's because I really enjoy DMing back and forth. Maybe it's because I truly start to feel invested in their online life... Whatever it is, I love hard and open myself up rather quickly.

So when I see that someone stopped following me? When I see that they no longer have an front row seat to my life and my posts across their feed? It leaves me feeling a bit confused and dismayed.

I ask myself the same questions every time ... "Oh man, what did I say to offend her!? Was I too bold about my faith? Did I wear something immodest? Was I not posting enough? Did I forget to comment on her photos for a while!?"

My heart sinks to my stomach every. single. time.

For a while, I was pretty ashamed to admit that. Why would I want to tell anybody that it actually hurts me to my core when I get an unfollow? It sounds so shallow!

But if I'm feeling it, I know someone else must be feeling it too.

So for the past few months, I've been on a mission to stop feeling that way and reshape the way I've thought about this social media world.

The reason we hurt over something like this?

Perhaps it's because losing touch with people in real life is something that happens naturally and unintentionally... While unfollowing on social media is a deliberate act.

It’s like a slap in the face. It can sting. But I realized that unless people are dropping like flies on my account, un-followers aren’t such a bad thing...

Yeah, talk about progress!!! My mindset has shifted completely. I've realized this by being deep in the Bible, prayer, and journaling. I can't be everything for everybody, and I've realized that if I tried to be, I was going to lose myself in the process.

The first step for me was to ground myself in scripture and in who God says I am. I memorized Psalm 139, which you can find here, and I also made some ground rules for myself...

Here are my rules:

  1. I deleted every single analytics app that told me when someone unfollowed me! Just so I wouldn't be obsessed with it.

  2. I limited my screen time every single day to about 4 hours.

  3. I started really investing in my real life friends.

  4. I changed my motives. Instead of messaging somebody back, or posting, in order to gain or keep followers- I started to just do it all to for the glory of God!

I used to pour myself out completely on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook - All in hopes that people would stay on the platform and keep following along. That's where I was wrong! I had it all backwards! Now I pour myself out on all of those apps just to get the name of Christ out! I just want people to know HIM - Not me!

Of course - it still hurts a bit when someone leaves, but it doesn't hurt as bad anymore. My self esteem and confidence is solely in Christ. I'm sure over time, it will just continue to get better. It doesn't have to kill you and ruin yourself esteem either, sister.

Take Social Media Rejection With a Pinch of Salt

I had to realize: An actual true friend will come to you directly if she is upset about something you said or did. But, said David Bennett, certified counselor, life coach, and author, “a friend who ends the friendship by unfollowing you on Instagram wasn’t a very good friend to begin with..."

Truth BOMB. If you think about it, we aren't really losing all that much.

As humans, we are all really messy. I've unfollowed some people in my day and probably have hurt others along the way. I never thought about how wrong that was until it happened to me. I had no emotional thoughts about it whatsoever back then! So they probably are not trying to intentionally hurt you.

Some people just struggle with envy. Some are just depressed. Some are having a hard time with life in general. Some are in a weak moment and can’t celebrate you, while others are able to.

As for you, choose to get in your Word, focus on being loved, first and foremost, by the King of Kings, and study what it means to live for Him and not for this world! Remember....

Psalm 84 says "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly"

He's not going to withhold anything good from you! What's meant to be yours, will be yours. Including your followers. Yup, God even cares about that!

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