Social media is amazing. It lets us connect with people we would never meet in real life to build relationships and communities based on shared interests and traits. It’s pretty much revolutionized the way that we know people in the most basic sense. Of course, with that come some hazards. Just like in real life there are people on social media who don’t necessarily bring out the best in us. Everyone has at least a few of these internet frenemies that they follow, or even engage with, even though it brings them down. Following people you hate online can be a major trigger for depression, and as tempting as it is, it’s a bad habit that we should all try to cut out.
It’s easy to see both why following people we hate is so attractive and why it can be so toxic. Strong emotions breed strong interest and the contempt we feel for bad people either in our lives or in the world can create just as strong an attachment as love. We want to keep tabs on people, we want to see what they’re saying and doing so that it can confirm our worst feelings and opinions about them. Seeing someone we dislike say something terrible online validates our negative opinion of them and so, in a perverse way, it makes us feel good about holding that opinion in the first place.
There is a darker side to hate-following though. Social media is, above all, a performance. The ability to edit yourself online is one of the social media’s greatest strengths but also one of its most prevalent pitfalls. Everyone get’s to present their best self and that can be disconcerting. If you plan to follow someone you truly despise, get ready to see a lot of pictures of them having a great time. Prepare yourself to read positive comments from the people who genuinely like them despite your strongly held opinion that they’re the worst. In short, get ready to see this person you hate living their best life for the internet to behold.
Watching someone you hate, or someone who has hurt you, go about their day to day life is difficult because on social media everything looks effortless. The pain or anger that you’re feeling internally probably isn’t reflected on your social media accounts and you shouldn’t expect it to be reflected on theirs either. Seeing someone’s best face day after day can be painful if that person is a sore spot for you. We all have a few friends that we don’t like, both in real life and online, because friend breakups are hard and sometimes it feels like too much work to cut the cord, but following someone you hate is just agreeing to be confronted with the things you hate day in and day out whenever you log on. Do yourself a huge favor and just call a full stop.