Avoiding triggers with Twitter mute filters

hello computer

Merry December and a happy next Thursday? How are you?

I’m trying to be ok. I just wrote 1,000 words. Deleted them and made a coffee. Why? I was getting more and more upset with each sentence. I couldn’t pin point why exactly and that was part of the problem. This process is meant to be therapeutic or at least provide an outlet for some good old fashion sarcasm. I’ve saved it and I’ll have a think about where the piece is going and whether it is helpful for me to finish it.

The piece was inspired by me being triggered by something I saw on social media. It’s not important what it was and anyway spoilers for future issues. I was scrolling, reading, thinking and then triggered. After a few minutes I was depressed. “But my life isn’t that good.” balls

My mute filter on Twitter is huge yet plenty slips through. There are so many things I need to remove from the service just to make it useable. I wish there was an algorithm to remove posts that are simply “Yes!” Is it too much to ask to use a hashtag so I can mute that topic? Why do I need to mute the topic? Some absurd level of FOMO for something I don’t want to be involved in and yet feel like I’m being left out. Plus I then have to work out what I’m having FOMO for. Is it a show, a sport, a conference about the correct use of social media? Use a hashtag so I can put a sock in it. Thanks.

I mute camera brand hashtags to avoid feeling inadequate about my amazing camera gear that is now of course better off in the bin after seeing a tweet about the BetterCam 1.1. Stupid BetterCam 1.09. I mute certain newspapers because people often tweet outrage more than they tweet things to be delighted by. I don’t need a Doomscroll.app. Fathers/Mothers day is gone because I don’t need to be reminded about what I’ve lost. Politics when it becomes too much. I want to help but sometimes I just want to see cat pics.

I’m debating muting Christmas. Boxing Day. New Years. Celebratory things because I’m sorry but I don’t want to deal with feeling like I don’t measure up to what society views as the “best time of year”.

I consider hashtags and the ability to mute things an accessibility feature. They remove noise from social media which reduces the risk of being triggered into depression and anxiety. So the service is more accessible for me without that noise. I once made a mute filter for #. That’s it. It muted anything with a hashtag in and Twitter was quite fascinating to browse. More conversational and less promotional.

There’s a space for mental health features in social media. A massive space the size of the collective depression felt by everyone every day as they scroll through a list of people posting hand crafted artisanal photos of their perfect authentic moment that’s as authentic as any other brand sponsored moment. It’s a big hole basically.

I’m thankful that I can browse Twitter via 3rd party apps that don’t feature adverts. I’m thankful that they also have more complex systems for muting. Twitterific supports regular expressions (regex) which allows for clever mute filters. Tweetbot also supports them. If you’re in the Apple ecosystem I would highly recommend buying these 3rd party apps for their mute systems alone. Also, no ads.

You can mute by client too. PR companies like to use services such as Buffer or IFTTT to queue up posts. I mute those clients. I mute shares from Facebook, Hootsuite, Paper.li (people still use that!?), WhoUnfollowedMe, etc. Generally those services where you’re sharing something via a “Tweet” button. Sorry but I don’t really need that noise in my life.

It would be amazing to have mute lists you could subscribe to or even export/import. Maybe one day social media will put accessibility and mental health first.

Lastly I mute usernames because I need to be able to move on with my life instead of carrying around past pain. Imagine if you had a tattoo of someone who caused you great mental pain. You would want it removed instead of carrying it around with you all day. Unfortunately there are people on social media I need to mute just so I can move on with my life and not live in those past arguments. Old HDR photo discussions are my nemesis. Social media often makes it impossible to move away from these people and I am left depressed because everyone else seems fine with them but what about my pain? Nope. Mute. Try and move on.

Unfortunately there’s nothing like this for Facebook owned services. WhatsApp has almost 0 controls. I would dearly love to mute COVID-19 deniers from groups that I’m on. I worry that COVID deniers are a step from anti-vaxxers which is a step from trying to “cure my autism” with a bleach drink. I don’t need that in my head. It’s not about who is right or wrong (I’m right and you’re wrong. Science yo!) It’s about my mental health and removing triggers. It would be nice to hide groups till I’m ready to go back to them instead of putting them right next to my mates groups. Instagram. LOL. ShopstaReelsagram cares more about selling products and stopping people from leaving to go to Tiktok. Speaking of which I have no idea about Tiktok as I can’t dance so I don’t use it. Facebook as far as I know doesn’t have any form of mute system. Even vanilla Twitter has one. C’mon Facebook.

I’m thankful for social media. I’ve connected with lots of photographers, gamers, and the autistic community through it. I’ve learnt a lot. I wouldn’t want to leave a service for mental health reasons but it is taxing to use sometimes. Do you remember pre-social media when you didn’t have to think about something if you didn’t want to? Now days we have to scroll through sea of others thoughts, fears, and if we’re lucky their hopes.

Don’t be afraid to mute if you need to take a break. No shame.

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