I’ll admit it. The torrent of information online wrecks havoc on my anxiety level. While most writers worry about getting more “hits,” I am consumed with filtering you out. I say this with love because I care about you. And if I care too much, I start to flounder. Everyone seems to have a blog, or at least a Facebook page. Who should I deem most important to me? I follow terrible writers who are amazing individuals. I follow amazing writers who are terrible individuals. I follow college friends, homeschooling Moms, Orthodox rabbis, Wiccans, and journalists with the New York Times. Sometimes I just need a rest, or at least to make my online world a smaller village.
I use Social Fixer for Facebook. It is a free browser extension that helps me hide things like your annoying games. Do what you want in the privacy of your own home. I don’t not need to know who you killed in Mafia Wars. I’m also a big fan of the Facebook “Close Friends” list. I’m constantly switching it up, depending on how I feel about you at the moment. So, be careful! No one is safe.
My Google Reader is a perpetually mess. I open it up, see 10,000 unread items and want to vomit. There are just too many choices. On days when my anxiety level is high, I borrow a technique I first encountered on Backpacking Dad three years ago — I use the Next Reader Bookmark in my browser. My system — I create a folder of personal favorites on Google Reader, no more than 20 blogs at a time. I then install the Next Reader Bookmark, but only for this specific folder. Now, when I am in the mood for some reading, I simply press the button and a blog boots up. I’m never sure which blogger will show up next, since it is ordered by publication date, but that’s part of the fun, like playing the slot machine in Vegas. But since the twenty-five reading choices in the folder are special to me, I’m usually happy with what shows up.
Do I use this Next folder all the time? No. I like to read new material. But on those days when life is stressful, my Next button is comforting, like a mother spoon-feeding a baby information.
Twitter is my true nemesis. Even in my private lists, I feel like I am constantly being bombarded by links. Do this. Read this. Vote for me. I know social media is all about promotion, but sometimes I just like the conversation. Tweetbot, my mobile Twitter app, and Tweetdeck, my web app, offer filters to help mute certain keywords or hashtags.
I hadn’t explored these mute filters very closely, until last night. I cleared my desk, opened up my Twitter apps, and spent some time experimenting with different words and phrases as mute filters. I wanted to create a better Twitter experience for myself. And that’s when the Eureka moment occurred — I typed the term “/” into the mute filter form box, pressed enter, and suddenly, every single tweet containing any link disappeared from my view — all of them, from the newbie blogger to Mashable. All that was left was conversation and status updates. It was as if I had inadvertently discovered the common denominator of ever link. If an update had a “/” it was muted. Again, I wouldn’t do this most of the time. I like having Twitter as an RSS feed. But I had just created a choice for myself.
I immediately called Juli in New Zealand. I told her the story, trying to impress her, as men are apt to do with women.
“That’s nice,” she said.
“I don’t think you get how significant this discovery is to the online world. I even googled this “/” thing as a Twitter mute filter, and found no references at all. It’s like I’m the Thomas Edison of Twitter Mute Filters!”
Last week, Juli’s mother had discovered my blog and read the post where I discussed the terms “pussy” and “dick.”
“He’s uh, certainly different,” she told Juli. “But what has he accomplished?”
So, HERE YOU GO, Juli’s Mother! I know you are reading this post. Here’s your answer — I am THE THOMAS EDISON OF TWITTER MUTE FILTERS!
You’re daughter is lucky to know such a genius.