When It’s Time to Unsubscribe

Earlier this week my daughter had a melt-down. A total and complete seven-year-old melt dowwwwwn. It was awful. Tantrums thrown by three-year-olds are terrible, but tantrums thrown by seven-year-olds are even worse. In the end it came out that a few kids at school had said some really ugly and cruel things to her. They had spoken lies into her little heart and the pain of their words were crushing her from the inside out. Once she got control of her emotions and was able to share what had happened on the playground I encouraged her to avoid this particular group of kids in the future. Sometimes that’s harder to do than it sounds, especially when you go to a small school. But it got me thinking about the “playgrounds” we find ourselves on as adults.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the same position as Lily, bombarded with things we don’t want to hear. Things that crush us a lot or a little. And while we might not react with kicking screaming tantrums we often respond with bitterness and angst that swirls and swells until it eventually boils over and we become the ones spewing ugly, unkind verbal vomit.

I’m pretty sure if Thumper’s mom were advising her little rabbit on how to handle the social media playground she would say something to the effect of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say… it’s time to unsubscribe.”

Simple as that. It’s time to unsubscribe. It’s time to Unfollow.

From whatever it is. From whoever it is.

If as you scroll through Facebook, or Instagram or click through blogs you start to get an icky feeling or worse yet feel like you’ve been punched in the gut, it’s okay (and it’s time) to unsubscribe.

And if you’re agonizing over what so-and-so might think about your decision to unfollow them… they’ll get over it. Trust me. You unfollowing them won’t sting for long, but the sourness you experience every time you click on your device and find discontent, discouragement and distrust bubbling over in your own heart… well that’s just poisoning you.

Whether they have 100,000 followers or 100 – you can politely decline to listen to them by simply unfollowing or unsubscribing. And there are lots of reasons to unsubscribe. Maybe your life is moving in another direction, maybe you want to expand the voices and ideas you’re exposed to, or maybe you’ve outgrown the stage you’re in and it’s time to refresh your feed. Or maybe you just realize it’s time for you to look away and find someone else to play with.

Whatever your reasons or motivations for unsubscribing are, there is freedom on the other side.

About a month ago I unfollowed 400+ accounts on Instagram. I wanted to shift my feed away from photography and towards writing. I’m no longer in the photography world and don’t want to see as many wedding and engagement photos but would rather read posts from other writers, speakers and authors. Since my mass-unfollow I haven’t had a single person confront me about unfollowing them (not that I expected I would). What I learned was that the reality is this: the fear of unfollowing is probably a lot more intense than the actual repercussions.

Yes, I’ve had some people unfollow me in response and that’s totally fine. When I first started my Instagram account I was a wedding photographer… so clearly my focus has shifted too and it makes perfect sense to me that there are lots of reasons people might want to unfollow my account. For example, I talk a lot about Jesus and spirituality on my feed, which is not something I did much as a wedding photographer.  I’ve shifted gears and that’s okay.

Every day we’re inundated with information from multiple sources. Every day we filter through all that information to find the things that matter the most to us. Every day we make choices about how we will spend our energy and our resources. Spending your time consuming the content of someone you no longer want to speak into your life is not a good use of your energy. Real playgrounds can be a rough place and kids sometimes say some pretty yucky stuff. As grownups we get to choose the playgrounds we play on and we can choose who we do and do not listen to.

Go ahead an unsubscribe and get back to what matters more.

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"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."

Matthew 7:15-20 ESV