What is #UnfollowAMan?
#UnfollowAMan is the hottest new movement on Twitter. Everyone loves it and is really happy about it. The idea is to empower you to find a man on your Twitter feed who has been kind of driving you nuts with his bad opinions, and unfollow his ass.
Many people have found that unfollowing men is like Pringles — you can't unfollow just one!
I'm a man. Can I participate in #UnfollowAMan?
Of course! You're probably just as sick of hearing men on Twitter as anyone! Men can participate by unfollowing a man.
Some men have thought that their participation means that they need to make a joke about how they wish they could unfollow themselves or offering themselves as the sacrificial unfollow. Typical man, making it all about themselves. Don't delude yourself by thinking you're special enough to be someone's pick to unfollow.
How do I know if unfollowing men is for me?
Well, how else do you determine anything about what to do with your life? Take a BuzzFeed quiz!
How do you know unfollowing men is a good idea?
That's a very reasonable question! Well, I put my money where my mouth is.
Earlier this year, I undertook an experiment: I unfollowed all men on Twitter. Every last stinking one of them. And life has never been better.
At the time, the inspiration was my colleague Charlie's self-torturing experiments (not using email for a week, unfollowing every single person on Twitter) and blogger and Think-Up founder Anil Dash's experiment of only retweeting women for a year. Anil's experiment changed the gender of what he was putting out on Twittter; I wanted to try changing who I was listening to.
A month of man-free Twitter seemed like a satisfyingly stupid/nuts/semi-meaningful undertaking. I planned to come away with some deep insights and then turn those insights into patriarchy-crushing content. But something strange happened. I couldn't refollow. Months kept passing while I followed no men. I wasn't ready to write. At first it felt like an inconvenience that I could tolerate temporarily, but as time passed I started to realize: This is bigger than one woman. This is the only way to use Twitter.
Why go through all the trouble of unfollowing men?
Before my experiment, I checked my feed to see its gender breakdown. Twee-Q, a site that analyzes your recent retweets by gender, showed that my last 20 retweets were all men. When I looked at another service that analyzes whom you interact with most, I was horrified to see that only one of the top 10 people was female. To make matters worse, the person I conversed with most often was a semi-anonymous internet troll who is by his own description an obese 27-year-old virgin who lives with his parents. It was enough to force me to ask myself: What the fuck am I doing on here?
Judged strictly by my Twitter behavior, I had become that universally reviled stereotype: the girl who is only friends with guys. But that's not who I am in real life at all; how was it that I'd developed this massive disconnect between my online identity and my real life? In my lofty imaginings of how I use Twitter each day, I was absorbing news and having civilized conversations, but it turns out I was using it like a locker room where jocular masculine sick burns are doled out each minute like 140-character towel snaps.
Unfollowing men was more than just a silly stunt to try out for something to write about; I needed a change. A digital man cleanse, if you will. Maybe you do, too.
Simple Tips For Unfollowing Men:
1. Click carefully. The "unfollow" button on Twitter is notoriously buggy. Unfollowing 361 men took me about three hours. Sometimes the button wouldn't appear to have changed, so I clicked it several times, resulting in a refollow notification being sent out to the discarded man. I wanted to quietly slink out the back door — not slam it while yelling, "Good DAY, sir!"
2. Make a list of your unfollowed men, in case you want to remember who they were to refollow at some point. For the first four months or so, I didn't cheat by looking at the list. However, lately I've added it as a column in Tweetdeck and occasionally browse it.
3. Use judgment when determining who is a man. Gender-neutral accounts like the official @BuzzFeed are fine to keep. I respected any non-cisgender expressions: Trans men were unfollowed, while a furry who identifies as a genderqueer horse was safe. It turns out if you've been following someone for a while, it's pretty easy to tell if it's a man or woman. There were a only few accounts I was unsure about, and I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
4. Be considerate of the feelings of the unfollowed men. A blanket unfollowing of all men is a GREAT excuse if someone takes offense (men do tend to get their feelings hurt easily). Several men confronted me about why I had unfollowed them, and instead of admitting, "Well, your tweets made me want to run into the server room at Twitter HQ and rip out every cord," I could simply say, "Oh, it's not just you, I unfollowed all men." Men tend to be more emotional than rational, so several of them still stewed and moaned about their feelings of rejection even after the logic had been explained to them.
5. Follow some new women. If you've been using Twitter for a few years, you're probably stuck in a rut where you've been following the same people for a long time. Keep in mind that Twitter is only as bad as your own timeline, so use this as a good excuse to mix it up. I had gotten to a point where I was reluctant to follow new people because I felt I was already maxed out on the torrent of tweets. Getting rid of 60% of the people I followed meant that I was actively searching out new women to follow, and I followed a few hundred new accounts. Regardless of gender, activating kind of a "reset button" for what Twitter looks like made the service fun and exciting again. It brought back some of the things I initially loved about it: hearing new voices, learning something, making a new friend.
But are there any downsides to unfollowing ALL men?
Well, sort of. There are, admittedly, men whose tweets I did actually enjoy reading, and I do miss them (when I remember that they exist). But sadly, a few good men can't unspoil the whole barrel.
Twitter's usefulness as a source of real-time breaking news is also somewhat hampered. The kind of people who are obsessed with being the FIRST to tweet some piece of news tend to be men. Sometimes there are moments where colleagues will mention some article or news item that "everybody" is talking about on Twitter at that moment, and I've completely missed out on it. It's interesting to note which controversies that seem to consume media Twitter don't actually involve many women tweeting about it.
But that's sort of the whole point: not having to listen to men's opinions about the news of the day. If a woman has an opinion, I'll listen. If women don't deign it worth discussing, then I don't deign it worth my time either.
Isn't #UnfollowAMan and unfollowing all men sexist?
Great question! This will be discussed in further detail during White History Month.