Being a Mindful Social Media Consumer: Who Should You Follow? (Part 1)

Nowadays, it seems like our new means of communication, advertising, shopping, news broadcasting, and personal marketing has been and will continue to take place primarily on social media. The world of cable television isn’t nearly as prominent as it was just a decade ago. During the years of 2016-2017, many social media users began following a certain subset of influencers–generally the same ones (I won’t name names because I honestly don’t know who half of the mega-popular influencers I’m referring to are, SERIOUSLY). In turn, these influencers amassed massive fandoms and followings, profited off their popularity, and have made their name super well-known in these media spaces. Some of them still do. However, by the end of 2019-present, we’ve seen a significant rise in stan culture and cancel culture, thereby exposing the wrongdoings and past misconducts of many of these mega-prominent individuals that have tainted their careers and images since. Much of it is deserved, some is not.

Stan culture and cancel culture pose their own issues. One prides on the ruthless following and defense of a brand or a person/group of people, whereas the other tries to tear down and “digitally eradicate” an entity or individual(s) for one mistake. Cancel culture is only beneficial and applicable if it is due to compounding problems and one last mistake served as the straw that broke the camel’s back, with the individual posing serious harm and damage to others. Honestly, I’m not sure if I am down for stan culture, but who knows.

In reference to my thoughts on the F-Factor circumstances, it seems that cancel culture and stan culture will only grow stronger this year, perhaps even in 2021. People are sick and tired of allowing influencers to get away with very suspicious activities and take no responsibility or just remain outright shameless about hurting others, let alone becoming absurdly wealthy and famous. There is a growing populace of social media users who don’t care solely about content quality–they want top notch execution of what is publicized AND for the names and faces behind these platforms to have a strong moral compass, sense of integrity, passion, drive, and relatability. Below are some very insightful videos and posts about stan culture and cancel culture:

In reference to my thoughts on the F-Factor circumstances, it seems that cancel culture and stan culture will only grow stronger this year, perhaps even in 2021. People are sick and tired of allowing influencers to get away with very suspicious activities and take no responsibility or just remain outright shameless about hurting others, let alone becoming absurdly wealthy and famous. There is a growing populace of social media users who don’t care solely about content quality–they want top notch execution of what is publicized AND for the names and faces behind these platforms to have a strong moral compass, sense of integrity, passion, drive, and relatability. Below are some very insightful videos and posts about stan culture and cancel culture:

https://www.insider.com/cancel-culture-meaning-history-origin-phrase-used-negatively-2020-7

Note that these questions are not meant to sway you to one attribute or the other. Whatever/whoever you choose to follow is ultimately up to you. There is a time and place for every single type of content category.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of person(s) do they seem like?
    • Body language, eye contact, presentation, voice tone, etc.–do they seem to be acting in an authentic or trained manner?
  • Are there posts always sponsored?
  • Do they appear to have ulterior motives?
  • What values are executed in their content?
    • Do their values come across as “bigger picture” or “heavily specific”?
    • Are their messages self-centered or more humanitarian?
  • How do their publications look?
    • To what extent have the details been examined?
  • Do their written captions align with what they verbally articulate in their videos?
  • How do they handle everything in their “private life”?
  • Can I easily ignore what I dislike about this account’s content and enjoy what I do like?
  • Is this account too triggering to me overall?

Next, the other party you must examine aside from this particular platform are the followers and/or the fans.

  • How can I describe the whole energy of this account’s following?
  • Are most of these followers bots or real people?
  • What are the comments section like?
    • Are the comments overwhelmingly positive or negative?
    • Do the responses seem to follow a weirdly similar format?
  • Is the engagement very low compared to the amount of followers a user has? (this is definitely prevalent due to the algorithm, but let’s be real…someone like me is much less likely to be buying followers than someone with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers)
  • What is the relationship with the user and the followers?
    • Does the user make an effort to reply to as many followers as they can, or do they seem distant?
    • Is there a cult-like aura between the two where the user is a powerful authority?

Perhaps you decide to keep up with this account. After some time, their platforms appears more suspicious or more uneasy to consume. You can respond with any of these:

  • Restrict. This is a pretty good method since the app is signaled to no longer expose this account’s page on your feed anymore. You won’t have to see them nearly as much, but it is still indicated on your profile that you follow said user. Depending on how many other accounts you follow, this could be very effective or lackluster.
  • Turn off notifications. Best for YouTube, social media sites won’t share any new uploads or activity that a user publicizes on your page. Now, you need to proactively search up this user to discover what they’re up to. However, this may evoke a site to directly make your account unfollow or unsubscribe from this page.
  • Unfollow. Pretty self-explanatory.
  • If necessary, block. I wouldn’t do this at all if you have a personal vendetta against someone, but if vice-versa, yes. It is necessary if there is a direct conflict between you and said user that is very toxic to you, such as cyberbullying or direct threats. If you know them in real life, perhaps have gone through a breakup or other rupture in a relationship, then it helps because neither of you can see each other’s feeds right away.
  • Make sure you switch up your explore page and your recommendations page. What if you unfollow a user, but find that Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or YouTube keeps pushing your feed to showcase very similar pages? Well, just play the game like they have. Keep notifying the site or app to not recommend certain pages and posts, start liking posts you ACTUALLY want to see more of, and eventually, the algorithm will adjust to your desires.
  • If they have other avenues of income, don’t financially support them. For this situation, this applies to people who sell merchandise, music, cinematic works, services, books, and many more.

Say someone you follow screws up. REALLY badly. Backlash galore. This is where you need to be more nitpicky because responses to criticism can help you recognize their true colors and motives. Personally, I would recommend that you restrict the page first. It’s best to avoid direct contact with the drama and the fire, but do engage in discussion outside of the trenches in other groups and pages that don’t necessarily support the person/brand or directly harp on them. Each circumstance is very contextual and conditional, so I wouldn’t advise you to unfollow someone or not. Discuss and research first, then make your decision.

As weird as it may sound, the pickier you are, the better off you’ll be. It’s okay to loosely visit someone’s page for a while without hitting the “follow” button straight away. You’ll actually find how often you search up for them and/or like their pages in a more mindful manner. Consumption isn’t just what you ingest for diet or for physiological health, after all. What you follow and engage with significantly impacts your mental, physical, and emotional health, so take care of yourself in this way as well.

Stay tuned for Part 2! It’ll be an elaboration on cancel culture and what you should do if you want to appreciate art without supporting the artist.


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