My husband is very anti-social media. The only thing he uses is Strava and that’s more of a workout-tracking platform than social media. He thinks everyone’s lives would be better without it. And of course, I get defensive because I know a lot of it can be terrible and I have to curate all of mine, but I also think…especially during the pandemic…it has really been a life-saver. I thought I would explain how I use/curate my platforms to make the experiences as positive as possible.
With instagram I like it to be filled with creative content that supports issues I believe in (I love a good feminist artist) and I like seeing pictures from the lives of my friends and family. But…I do use the “mute” function a lot. There’s not a lot of political stuff posted by my peers on instagram, but if there is (especially really cruel anti-Kamala memes which one person posts often) I mute the person. And I also mute people who do a lot of “fitspiration” type stuff because I’m very VERY new to my “radical self love” journey and I find some of that stuff very triggering to my own self-hatred. Lately I use my instagram to follow a bunch of artists, so my scroll is half keeping up with people I know in real life, and half looking at amazing art.
Oh. And cute animals. If you’re not following the accounts dedicated to adorable animals, you’re doing instagram all wrong.
With Twitter I use a combination of their “lists” function and Tweetdeck on my computer. I signed up for Twitter in 2006 so when I finally started being deliberate with curating my experience I had a LOT of trash people I was following. So, I started building “lists” so I wouldn’t have to rely on the general feed from all of the people I followed.
My Faves are people I don’t want to miss, my Huntsville/Alabama peeps are local friends and media people I want to keep up with. Important voices (the list I use the most) is filled with journalists and writers and historians and all sorts of figures that I feel like are using Twitter to deliver great information and messages and commentary. If there’s “breaking news” I like to use that list to sort it out. And then the Local/News is obvious…when there’s local stuff going on I want to keep up with.
Tweetdeck allows you to set up your screen to show all of those lists.
Now, that far-left columns is my basic feed with EVERYONE I follow. So I do monitor that one, and over time I’ve unfollow people regularly enough that I’ve build a decent experience on my phone, but if you follow thousands of people the lists are the way to curate your experience so you can sort through the madness.
I also use the “mute” function on Instagram for accounts that I feel are strictly inflammatory. The thing about those accounts is that I don’t follow those people, but people I do follow will comment on their terrible takes and so I’m forced to see it. BUT! If I mute the account it never shows me anything, even if it’s a quote tweet from someone I follow. It’s great. I never have to know what asinine shit they’re saying. Here’s a sampling of people I muted on Twitter.
With all of those tools Twitter is really a great resource for me now. It’s how I get most of my news because it’s fed to me from a bunch of different sources that I respect and trust. I follow writers more than institutions. And I follow many different kinds of people. I really enjoy my Twitter experience now!
Now, Facebook is almost strictly a way to keep up with real world friends and family. And because I got drug into some drama early in the pandemic I had an excuse to unfriend like 300 people who didn’t interact with my account at all. And then I had a come-to-Jesus moment wondering why I’m Facebook friends with extended family that I never see in real life when they are Pro-Trump? So I unfriended a shit-ton of people and I have no regrets.
So, now my Facebook feed really is keeping up with people I want to keep up with and that has really helped me during the pandemic. Also, in general I find it easier to deal conquer my social anxieties in real life when I can come into a gathering and say, “How are wedding plans going?” or “Tell your daughter congratulations on that new job!” because of updates I’ve seen on Facebook. I can not begin to explain how just those minor bits of knowledge help me ease into a social situation.
It also simply reminds me that people I like are out there. I have one friend who just took a big cross country camping trip with her family and I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise (our real-world circles don’t overlap anymore as our kids don’t go to school together now) and so I reached out to her and asked if she’d be up for a walk or a socially distanced porch gathering so I could hear more about the trip in person!
I would have NEVER done that before. I have another friend who I know just moved back here because of Facebook and so now I’m planning walks with her! Facebook keeps me connected and gives me information to arm me against my social anxieties to help keep me from hiding in my home forever.
Donnie looks at social media as impairing the people’s real-world socialization abilities, and maybe it does in some situations. But for me? The way I use social media? It helps me immensely. I can stay updated on the news without the anxiety triggering visuals I would get from news on TV. I can keep up with friends I might not see in person regularly so that I can keep that contact going. I can be inspired by artists and creators doing work to make the world better while ignoring the idiots spreading hate and bigotry online.
I just love my social media experience but I work hard at making it something to love. I don’t think you can just download apps and have a good experience. I think you have to be deliberate about the voices you let into your world. I don’t worry about bias because I have to watch Fox News for hours every week with my Mom so I get PLENTY of conversations from the “other side” thank you very much. But I am also very deliberate about how I post things on social media. I’m not posting memes just to bash Trump. I prefer to post articles about issues I support. I don’t post “anti-conservative” content as much as I post “pro-liberal” content. While I truly do abhor our President I still prefer to post about things I support instead of things I don’t.
Anyway! That’s me in a social media nutshell! And why I won’t be leaving any of it for awhile.