There’s one power move I often pull — and that move is muting people I follow on Instagram. As I mindlessly swipe through my Instagram, I often think: Why am I expending my attention on this post? Does this post spark joy? I am KonMari-ing my social media feeds.
Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with anyone’s individual use of social media, except those who have 10 shots of fireworks on their stories. But recently, I have started questioning why I click through birthday stories — particularly stories that post each word of the phrase on its own image — from people I hardly know.
Muting someone used to be a long process. An old high school classmate would show up on my feed, and I’d wonder if I should mute them or not, considering the simple yet fond interactions we once had. Now, muting people has become easy. I know I won’t regret it. If I actually care about someone’s social life, I won’t even have to consider hitting the mute button.
I fear this will come off as me burning bridges, but there’s a beauty to muting people. No matter how trivial it may seem to see another set of Instagram stories, it’s more time spent expending energy and attention. Before I started muting people, I would become unsatisfied when rewarding myself with a study break on social media, viewing posts of pristine beaches and concerts. I’d replace an actual break with swiping through people’s shiny internships, a practice that doesn’t exactly help with my insecurities and mental health.
I also don’t see the point in holding onto relationships that are solely based on social media. Studies show that we can only have so many close friends, and I am tired of mindlessly swiping through screens of people I will never meet or talk to again. Muting people has made me realize I have been following people I met once, at a high school conference or something of the sort, that I now have no intention of ever contacting again. Anyone can relate to the casual moment of politely exchanging social media handles — even with deep reservations that you’ll ever go beyond the occasional like on their posts.
Muting is the polite thing to do, really. Unfollowing someone seems too harsh — an action resorted for ex-boyfriends or influencers you’ve moved on from. By muting others, there’s no harm, no foul and the extra bonus that the muted person will never know you hit mute.
Occasionally, I’ll search for an Instagram handle, and someone I’ve muted will show up on the list of suggestions. I’ll scroll through their profile to see what they’re up to. I’ve realized how small of a role social media has on who we retain in our minds and that muting them wasn’t a big deal in the first place. If I care, I’ll see them again. I’m not drastically happier or sadder, nor do I feel like I’m missing out on what others are doing; my life goes on.
Muting people is something that has given me power in deciding how I choose to consume social media, and it works for me. I believe that everyone needs to take the time to do what I did — find what social media habits work to create your best life.
So, if you want to mute me, I get it. I promote my articles and like too many news articles and memes on Facebook anyway. At the end of day, don’t be afraid to do whatever works for you.
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Email Joel Lee at [email protected]