Complaining About Social Media? You’re Part Of The Problem.

Sleazy salesman pointing

I think, after all my years on the web, I’ve reached a certain tipping point with whining.

Specifically, I’m referring to people that whine that [insert social network here] is too this or not enough that or there are too many ads or too much marketing or not enough ‘engagement’ whatever that means or…

(Extra bonus points for people who complain about the social network by USING the same social network.)

You get the idea.

I’ve written about this before, but perhaps it’s time for a reminder, because I sure need to get this off my chest (again).

This is all opt in.

You choose who you follow, friend, or connect with. So if your stream is full of marketing garbage and crappy content and people who only self-promote, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Unfollow that crap. Stop listening. Stop giving it your attention and clicks. (I do, all the time, including today a pile of people that inspired this post).

It’s a self-fulfilling system. If people put out crap content or do nothing but pimp their stuff, people will eventually start to ignore them, unfollow them, unfriend them. They won’t get what they want out of it, and they’ll stop and go away. But you don’t have to wait that long.

Click unfollow or unfriend or unlink and MOVE ON. Remove them from your field of view.

If you want a stream that’s full of valuable stuff, make the effort to find the strong contributors, and give them your attention instead. Want less negativity (like I did)? Ditch the people who perpetuate it (like I did).

Give your attention to the people and places that fulfill you. No one else.

There is no prize for following people back.

If anything, this “quid pro quo” thing we’ve created on social networks is part of what has created the very problem everyone is complaining about.

No, you don’t have to follow everyone back. No, it’s not a matter of courtesy. No, you don’t owe it to anyone and it’s not some kind of personal rejection if you follow someone and they don’t follow you back. If you need that kind of validation, I have the number for a great shrink and some books you should read.

Simply perpetuating the “they followed me so I should follow/friend them” rule creates noise in your feed, and lots of it.

And if you do decide to connect with someone and eventually find they’re not your cup of tea, click the button to mute them or disconnect and don’t lose an ounce’s sleep over it. It’s a social network, not a life or death decision that makes a meaningful character assessment on someone’s personal worth.

I use lists ruthlessly on Twitter.

You’re part of the problem, and the solution.

If you’re complaining in the middle of a traffic jam, the reality is that you’re contributing to the problem by being yet another car on the road.

These communities and made and broken by the people and the contributions they make to the greater whole.

If you’re hanging out and hollering that you don’t find value in a network but you a) don’t use it yourself and b) aren’t doing anything to improve the caliber of the content or conversation, you need to stop. Because all YOU are adding is noise.

Want to find good content? Create some of your own, or at the very least, share the good stuff you find. Raise the quality level by being part of the solution and changing the ratio of useful, helpful stuff by adding to it yourself.

Want more conversation? Converse. Comment. Talk to people. Try being the thing you want others to be.

You can’t have it both ways.

You can’t decide you want only “engagement” on Twitter one day and then use it to relentlessly pimp your latest ebook tomorrow.

You can’t demand that it be free and then insist that you won’t tolerate advertising.

You can’t want Facebook to be a marketing vehicle that works for you but then hate that it’s a marketing vehicle for anyone else.

These networks are built, created by, sustained by and shaped by the very people that participate in them. Without that, the platforms have nothing. So if you’re on Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat or Twitter or LinkedIn…you ARE THE CONTENT.

And you are “they”.

Want better? Do better yourself. If the communities only grow as the caliber of content improves, then the platforms themselves will make it more important than ever to do that, and make it easier for others to do the same.

No one is making you stay.

How much energy have you wasted complaining about Facebook’s algorithm…and then gone ahead and posted your latest blog post or pictures of your dog?

How many times have you said you don’t “get” Twitter, and wasted a lot of words telling everyone your opinion…but kept your account active anyway?

It takes all of, what, three seconds to scroll past an ad in your news feed that you don’t like? And zero effort to NOT click on it.

It’s not a life requirement to be online or on social media. If you don’t like it, I promise we’ll be okay out here without you. Your life won’t end, ours won’t end, we’ll all be okay.


Be the change you want to see in the world.

This quote has been around for ages, but it’s true.

We reap what we sow.

Want better? Do better. Be better. Make better. Contribute something, connect with quality people and companies, shine a spotlight on the stuff that makes it all worth doing. Ignore the rest.

The beauty and curse of the web is that it is – and always has been – wrought by our own hands, words, pictures, creations. Social media is no different.

If you’d like to be part of it, we’d love to have you.

If not, no hard feelings.

The rest of us have a lot of great ideas, and a whole lot of work to do.


  1. Jane Bozarth says

    This is an excellent piece! I am ever-amazed at people who go on Facebook to complain about Facebook, day after day, and have suggested that they ask for their money back. 😉

    Nice work– thanks!

    • Amber Naslund says

      Thanks so much, Jane. I think I’m just hoping that people realize that we, together, create these networks and if we want value out, we have to put value in. And they’re all a lot more customizable than people seem to give credit for.

      Appreciate your reading!

  2. Shari Hanlon says

    Very well said! Thank you for the reminder that we don’t have to succumb to “quid pro quo.” I sometimes find myself getting sucked into that, and your piece reinvigorated my resolve to be the architect of my own social media network. Cheers!

    • Amber Naslund says

      It happens to a lot of people I know. The sense of obligation around reciprocating follows, etc. creates sooooo much angst and it always amazes me. Love your phrase “architect of your own social media network”. Totally using that in an upcoming talk, with full credit! 🙂

  3. Joel says

    This was one of the best pieces I have read in some time! Thank you for putting your thoughts out there for us to share! I will be sharing this often!

  4. Jay Socol says


    “If you’re complaining in the middle of a traffic jam, the reality is that you’re contributing to the problem by being yet another car on the road.”

    In terms of muting people or declining connection requests that aren’t healthy or productive for me, I’ve found that it’s gotten easier as I age. My 47-year-old self doesn’t care nearly as much about such things…

    Good post, Amber.

  5. Carolyn says

    I’ve gotten really good at clearing out the crap on Facebook but I’ve been lazy about creating Twitter lists. We’re all friends here. What are some of your list headings?


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