Why I Can’t Unfollow Pandemic-Ignoring Influencers
It’s easy to follow health guidelines, but it’s much harder to look away
Once upon a time, social media was a way to connect with people we knew — Classmates.com, Myspace, Facebook. Then it was a way to connect with people we wanted to know and who hopefully wanted to know us — Twitter, Tinder, LinkedIn. Now, it’s voyeuristic, a place for us to peer into enviable lives — Instagram, TikTok, YouTube. We still want to know these people, but these people don’t even know we exist. They’re personalities, and we’re just numbers.
Much has already been written online about friendships and values and pandemic-era behavior and how they will affect our relationships within the post-COVID world. For those of us who’ve hunkered down at home, diligently donning our masks when venturing out for work or errands, it’s difficult to imagine restarting a friendship with someone who’s been essentially living their life as usual. The circumstances have changed. Some might still balk at ending a lifelong friendship over an ill-timed vacation, a few parties, and an aversion to facial coverings. But fundamentally different values are as valid a reason as any to close the book for good.
Over the past year, I have unfriended people I’ve known since middle school on Facebook, resisted the pressures of family members desperately longing for a normal festive season, and firmly shot down social invitations from real-life friends. I’ve taken no prisoners. But there’s one area where I cannot seem to find this confidence, this sure footing. I cannot bring myself to unfollow my favorite influencers on Instagram.
Perhaps if I were following overt anti-vaxxers or outright Covid-deniers, I wouldn’t be in this predicament. But I’m a simple creature — I follow accounts to get ideas for cute outfits and healthy, tasty meals. I’m also an adult — I know that what we see isn’t necessarily what’s there. Influencers curate their digital lives for likes and money. They show us only what they want us to see, particularly on the grid. But there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Usually, this crack is in Instagram Stories. Stories is where shit gets real.