I witnessed a social media expert schooling a newb about how these online spaces work. The knowledge gap fascinated me and I thought I’d share a snippet with you.

The newb was stunned that — despite her every attempt to keep her new “secret” Instagram account a private place to be used outside of her social circles and business ventures — she kept getting followers she knows in real life.

She explained that she doesn’t follow her “real” account from this “secret” one. She doesn’t follow her friends and co-workers from it. And she definitely isn’t posting similar things. So, there’s no WAY people in her real life should just be bumping into this secret account, right?


Well, let’s start with the big truth of social media: We are not their users; we are their data. Their business is selling our every move to advertisers, other social media platforms, massive databases of information to be mined for all sorts of purposes. (News to you? Watch Terms and Conditions May Apply. You’ll thank me.)

One of which is suggesting things based on behaviors.

Didja ever notice that after you buy something at Amazon (or even just put it in your cart and abandon it), ads for similar things show up in your sponsored searches on Google? Book a trip online… then see a banner in your Zynga game apps for excursions in that city? Follow a brand on Instagram… and suddenly there’s a promoted post at Facebook for the same or something similar?

It’s not just your overt behaviors they’re tracking. It’s using the same computer or IP address to access multiple accounts or various platforms. It’s the “rounds” you make on your mobile device, one social media spot after the next, all day long. It’s location services being turned on, ever. It’s using the same recovery phone number across accounts, or the same email addresses. It’s cross-posting from one social media space to another (pushing those Instagram photos to Twitter, for example; letting YouTube log when you’ve uploaded or even watched/liked things).

They know what’s connected and that’s why your friends get the suggestion to follow your “secret” account.

As someone with a very very very stripped-down social media life (more on that in this category at my blog and in this vid on digital decluttering), I can tell you that the law of attraction is beautifully evident in social media.

What you HIT LIKE ON expands.

Here’s my suggestion for some next-tier clutter-clearing and intention-setting: Follow those who inspire you, delight you, entertain you, provide you with a view for where we’re headed in our best lives.

Further, unsub from toxic stuff.

If you were a vegan, you’d start by unfollowing the local butcher… but eventually, you’d find you have to unfollow the friend who always puts up photos of her meat-eating exploits. If you’re sober, you begin by letting go of the subscription to the wine bar you used to visit… and at some point, there are friends whose stories of another boozy night can’t show up in your feed anymore without affecting your centeredness. Getting fit? So long following the food porn made from ingredients you avoid. And hello role models for the lifestyle you aspire to.

There’s too much contrast in places you used to visit when you change. Next-tier you finds it easy to wall off haters, but what about that lower-tier peer group? The Complainy Janeys and Negative Nellies? Yes, even if you’re related to them. (Hell, especially if you’re related to them.)

It may feel stickier to unfollow folks you LIKE. But it may be best for you and where you’re headed. Because you’re only going to get suggestions to bring more of those types of people or experiences into your online world otherwise.

I live a curated life online (and in real life, now that I think about it). There’s a LOT to choose from all around me at any given moment. It’s like there’s a gigantic buffet of all possible foods on the planet available. Sure, there’s a whole section of shit sandwiches over there. I don’t pick any of that up and put it on my plate. I don’t show up for that. Why would I?

Same way I’m the fastest TV remote control trigger finger in the world when I hear that Sarah McLachlan song start up and know an image parade of abused, starving animals is about to start up on slow-mo. I don’t have to feed MYSELF a steady diet of anything that’s painful.

And when you’re living your hashtag best life, even something slightly lower-tier begins to be painful to consume too much of.

This is me with people who do Instagram stories while driving. I just can’t. I can’t. It hurts too much to know they’re being so reckless, sure they’ll never cause an accident while they’re making ducklips into their phone’s camera while they should be attending to the business of driving safely. And what I want to think about when I see you in my feed is NOT how you might kill someone someday but instead how awesome you are. I like you better when I don’t see you doing something that makes me upset.

So, great! I unfollow! I go visit your social media spaces now and then to take a peek and see *only* things that are fun to observe. I don’t invite in a FEED of that stuff that stresses me out or otherwise decreases my joy or my love for you.

I curate.

Especially since our social media diet is largely force-fed to us thanks to algorithms we don’t control, the selling of our data, and manipulated feeds… the more MINDFULNESS we put into the experience, the better.

Yes, limit the exposure, but also be purposeful about what you invite in going forward.

We have choices, and since we get more of what we’re already looking at, let’s be really smart about what we choose to consume.

Did you miss out on this very cool behind-the-scenes peek of an All-Access group coaching call that I shared? I decided to put up the replay at the YouTubes, since it’s on the topic of sex and power and the fatigue of leadership in stressful times like these.

Don’t consider yourself a leader? Oh, baby, yes you are. You’re in showbiz. Your voice is important. That’s leadership, for damn sure.

Tonight, in fact, I’m meeting up with a group of ladybosses in the industry — showrunners, screenwriters, fellow producers and casting directors, actors you’d recognize, and so on — to decompress about all that’s going on and, of course, to huddle about how we can take full advantage of the opening this painful time is creating for us all.

We *are* #CreatingTheHollywoodWeWant — keep leaning into this. It’s solution-oriented thinking.

We need more of this.

LA folks? See you at Thirsty Third Thursday! No RSVP required; just show up and jam with us!

Stay ninja, y’all!


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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1 Comment

  1. The Actor's Dojo October 20, 2022 at 2:31 am

    “What you HIT LIKE ON expands.”


    Absolute fire, as always, Bonnie! Absolute fire.

    If of interest to any of our fellow ninja actor friends, we wrote a similar-ish piece on this.

    Keep spreading the goodness, Bon!


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