Uncluttering social media frustrations

Over the past few months I’ve seen various people complaining about social media interactions, with comments such as the following:

  • My Facebook (or Twitter) timeline is filled with people saying horrible things.
  • My aunt (or co-worker, college friend, etc.) shared an article that’s factually wrong.
  • Someone is continually saying things I find abhorrent.

What can you do in such situations? There are a number of choices:

Take the time to respond with reliable information or a well-reasoned argument

This can be time-consuming, so I’d recommend limiting this response to situations where the other person is likely to be influenced by what you write. For example, when people fall for a story that has been debunked by Snopes.com, they often appreciated being directed to accurate information. But if the subject involves long-held political or religious beliefs, you are unlikely to sway them to your point of view.

Just ignore it

As the xkcd comic says, people are wrong on the Internet all the time — wrong according to your view of the world, at any rate. So in many cases, just ignoring what someone has written is the easiest way to avoid frustration. For example, you don’t need to read a relative’s entire 500-word post supporting a political candidate you dislike. You can see it, shake your head, and move on. That will save you time and limit the annoyance factor.

Similarly, if many people in your social media circle are discussing a topic that always gets you angry, that may be a good time to ignore Facebook, Twitter, or other such networks for a while.

Hide updates you don’t want to see

Ignoring something can be hard, so it may be better to unclutter your timeline and just not see certain posts in the first place. Twitter readers such as TweetDeck, Tweetbot, and Twitterrific allow you to mute text strings. If you don’t want to read anything about a certain person, organization, or event, you can just mute the relevant name or hashtag. That’s not foolproof, because variations on the name might still make it through your filter, but it will catch a lot of the aggravating posts.

With Facebook, you can choose to hide a specific story that appears in your newsfeed. That means you’ll still have seen it once, but you don’t have to keep seeing it as people respond.

Disengage with selected people

Sometimes it works better to hide posts from selected people than to hide posts based on the topic. While you may certainly want to read posts from people who disagree with you, some people’s posts may be so frustrating that seeing them doesn’t serve you well.

You may feel obligated to friend your relatives on Facebook, but you can still unfollow them — which means you’ll stay connected but you won’t see anything they post. (Alternatively, you can choose to just see fewer updates from these people.) If you don’t feel any obligation to be connected to a specific person, you can just unfriend someone whose posts continually annoy you. On Twitter, you can unfollow someone (the equivalent of unfriending on Facebook) or just mute the person.

7 Comments for “Uncluttering social media frustrations”

  1. posted by Anonymous on

    There are some Facebook friends (that are relatives) that post negative comments on almost everything I post. Because of awkwardness at family reunions, I need to stay friends with them but I’ve moved them onto my “Restricted” list. This means they only see posts that I publish to “Public” and do not see things that I post to only my “Friends”. It’s helped eliminate a lot of the anxiety.

  2. posted by Kymberly on

    Love this – I think that social media can be tough for us all. Sometimes there are things you just don’t want to know about your friends and co-workers. Great suggestions.

  3. posted by angie on

    unsubscribe from facebook, twitter and other social media that just plain gossip and you will gain so much time and peace of mind back for more important things.
    I only have Linkedin account and only use it for professional purposes, even do not accept connections from non-colleague or from people not close to my field of work.
    glad not to be bombarded with all the promotions, updates and all. If I want to know what is happening in the life of who I care for I call or e-mail or visit. If I need to buy something I search Internet or stores for a deal when I need it. And I am very happy not to know of what I am missing because my life is pretty busy anyway. Feel much happier this way.

  4. posted by Zilla on

    I agree with Angie. I don’t see the fascination with social media nor with the need to be connected by phone with others 24/7. I’ve never joined and I only used my cellphone for emergencies, for the short time I had it. There is an old song that expresses my feelings – got along without you before I met you and I’ll get along without you now.

  5. posted by Dan on

    Just change your regular social networks into productivity/goals oriented networks or communities.

  6. posted by skiptheBS on

    I see my boss and coworkers on the job and my family of origin only when it’s unavoidable, every couple of decades. Admittedly, Facebook has a couple of interesting and witty political groups but that doesn’t balance out potential exposure to cyberbullies and fraudsters, or inevitable bores and malware. I’ve had my screen names duplicated from other social media onto FB. I envy Prince and African-American women with unique names. Until FB has a realistic screen name policy and protection against tracking software, count me out.

  7. posted by Sarah on

    You know what saves me tons of time on social media? I don’t participate in it. No twitter, Instagram, snapchat, FB, Linkedin, etc.

    I live my life without having to broadcast my activities to the world, and in terms of hearing what’s going on with my friends or family, if it’s important they can phone me or email me. It’s really just that simple!

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