Dear Co-Workers, Please Don’t Follow Me on Social Media

It’s not you, it’s me

The Only Black Guy In the Office
Published in
4 min readOct 19, 2020
Illustration: Michael Kennedy

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If you’ve been consistently reading this column, you may have noticed that I draw some heavy boundaries when it comes to my career. For instance, my co-workers can miss me with chats about politics. Same for Afrocentric art. And dating a co-worker is a big no-no. Those boundaries extend to my digital life, too. As an example, I prefer that co-workers don’t follow me on social media, and vice versa.

The reasoning, though, might not be what you expect.

Of course, there’s the classic dilemma of how much of your life outside of the office to show your colleagues. I’m not an online oversharer anyway — more of an IRL kind of guy — so that’s not a huge deal to me. But keeping professional associates disconnected from my social media accounts has more to do with etiquette and personal tolerance. Allow me to explain.

At a previous job — back when I was younger and a little bit more carefree — I thought following co-workers was harmless, even polite. Within my first month there, I was following co-workers on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Many of my co-workers followed me back. But some didn’t. And in the words of His Airness, I took that personally.

The unreciprocated follow had a slight sting of rejection. It’s petty, trust me, I know. And as a professional, of course I’d never bring it up when it’d happen. It wasn’t that deep. (Plus, who wants to look that thirsty?) But that didn’t stop this imaginary affront from living in my head rent-free. That was the case with one smug guy named Mark. Sure, his social media behavior is his prerogative, but when I noticed he followed several others in the office but not me, it caused this one-sided friction in my exchanges with him. Carrying around resentment for such a first-world reason just wasn’t worth it.

I felt like a real-life Black Larry David, bravely challenging social conventions while curving my colleagues.



The Only Black Guy In the Office
Writer for

Do you know him? Is it you? The trials and tribulations of a Black man navigating corporate life.