A Tribute To ‘Mute’ On Instagram


If there was an award for the MVP of Instagram it would go to ‘Mute’.

It wouldn’t go to @CommentsByCelebs or @OurPlanetDaily or @DudeWithSign. It would go to that beautiful four-letter word on the drop down menu under ‘Following’. The button that bridges the gap between self-loathing and self-care.

I am the undisputed champion of muting. I’ve probably muted you. And your boyfriend. And his hot friend. And his hot friend’s hot girlfriend. Because I know myself. And I’m smart enough to recognise when I have the stamina to engage with Instagram’s Most Beautiful (IMBs) and when I do not. Some days I have the mental bandwidth to tolerate the women with necks as long as arms and legs as long as the average human body. The ones with noses that look like miniature ski slopes and torsos so snatched you’d swear they were standing side-on. And other days I just think not today Satan. On those days? Mute. Mute!

Of course, my intimate relationship with Mute is not solely reserved for IMB’s. I’ve muted various wellness bloggers who post upwards of forty-seven stories a day of their twice-daily workouts, their cryotherapy, acupuncture, infrared saunaS, #SponCon for vegan mayonnaise, and ten slides dedicated to their “cheat meal” of sweet potato brownies sweetened with stevia. I love wellness, but if the primary ingredient of your cheat meal is kumara then we need a break from each other. And I usually mute whichever guy I’ve got a crush on at the time. Because otherwise I’ll reflexively click whenever they post a new Instagram Story and before you know it he’d be lying in bed, re-watching his own Instagram Story – as all egomaniacs do – and he’d think to himself I wonder who saw today’s masterpiece, and he’d swipe up on that small glowing screen to ‘Viewers’ and there would be my username, right at the tippy top, and I’d be left with no choice but to delete my account and move countries and I’m just not prepared to do that. 

You’re probably thinking, couldn’t you just…not watch them? Why go to all the trouble to Mute someone? Good question! Because I lack any means of discipline! I’m fully incapable. I can’t not look. It’s like telling someone to not scratch a mosquito bite – you know scratching will only make it worse but it’s also so f*cking itchy

Instagram is a constantly updated stream of births, deaths, boasts, jokes, job announcements, holidays, ads, complaints, confessions, before-and-afters, #mywifeisbetterthanyours, #datenights, climatic and political disasters. And some days, it can all feel so inescapably personal. As though the mirage of the better online self is there solely to remind you of all the ways in which you fall short. That you don’t have your #dreamjob, that your child hasn’t worn a matching outfit since he was a newborn, that you’re single, that you haven’t lost the weight, that you can’t remember the last time your husband even proposed a #datenight, that you’ve never been to Bali and you’ll probably never own a Dyson. And of course we’re intelligent enough to know that there is only ever the smallest element of truth to what we see online, but it still has impact. It still lands.

So start muting. Mute to your heart’s content. Mute the lot. Enjoy the peace! Because the best part? The person will be none the wiser. They’ll never know that you’ve unsubscribed from their online selves, their child’s millionth outfit change, their second workout, their spotless kitchen, their Dyson vacuum cleaner, or their perfectly contoured jawline. If only for a moment. 

Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club