Last week I made a series of small choices that resulted in a feeling equivalent to, like, 20 hours of therapy. I unfollowed a Toronto man. Actually, I unfollowed like 25 to 30 Toronto men. These aren’t friends or people who I respect — in fact, they are the opposite. Men who have directly disrespected me, or other people (mostly women) that I know. Men who wield a kind of soft form of power within the city, and with whom it seems important, if not just plain useful, to maintain some type of social connection with via the internet.
Perhaps you’re not from Toronto, but I imagine the same amorphous circles of power and influence exist wherever you live, whatever scene(s) you occupy. I want to assure those of you who feel nervous about the implications of dashing one-two-three-four-or-more wastemen from your feed, that all of that disrespect curdles at the bottom of the bin and the stench stays lodged in your nose unless you hose the thing out every now and then.
Can I share an example? I unfollowed this guy I once thought was a cool and interesting nightlife fixture, but who called me a groupie when I was a baby reporter who was very clearly on the job. Why was I still following this person years later? I don’t know. I guess I just thought that it would “be awkward” if we saw each other around. You know, the dumb justifications you come up with to avoid telling yourself you deserve to be treated with respect?
I also unfollowed someone whose work I sometimes enjoy, but who has a reputation for stealing ideas from his ex-gfs; a former colleague who tried to kiss me in the office; a manager who asked for favours but repeatedly condescended to me; and multiple men who I know as stakeholders and who are personally banal as hell but who have still found ways of dinging the self-esteem of women that I know, love, and respect.
I’m not trying to make it about men, I promise — but it just kind of is. Men hold power and social influence in ways that women do not. It’s a completely different mental calculation. I just wanted to stop considering those people, and their energy, as a variable in the logic of my own life.
(As an aside, the ‘fungibility’ scene between Rhea and Logan Roy — the mascot for professionalized toxic masculinity — provided a really good analogue to this feeling. When Logan yells, “You’re fungible as fuck” and Rhea looks him in the eye, says, “Then funge me” and walks away. I felt that.)
Whoever the people are at the extreme peripheries of your life whose perceived influence lingers like a sock loosie waiting at the bottom of your drawer, getting in the way of who you know you are and what you are capable of — unfollow them today. The shame they’ve somehow inflicted on you, their assumed influence and power — neither is sustainable. Dare it. Power needs a story to survive.
That’s all. Happy unfollowing!!!!!!
Lots of love,
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Toronto: Alica and Natasha of ATM: At The Moment, have invited me to be one of three panelists speaking about ‘logging off,’ next Tuesday, October 15 @ Soho House in Toronto. The event is free! RSVP here.