in Life, Nerds, Technology

Dealing with Social Media Stress

Social media isn’t going to go away anytime soon – despite how many tweets there are proclaiming the death of social media.

I wrote this all out on Twitterstarting at this tweet – but thought I’d blog it as well since my blog may outlive Twitter at the rate it seems to be imploding 1 these days.

What works for me may not work for you. That’s fine. Take what makes sense and try it. Ignore the stuff that makes you angry. Leave a comment down below after you read it if you have constructive criticism or a helpful thought. This whole article is as much for me as for anyone else.

Here goes Chris’ Tips for Avoiding Social Media Stress or Angst.

Delete Your Account

The obvious answer is to simply delete your account. Here’s how on the big three social media sites:

But that’s not always possible for a lot of people for a variety of reasons – work, connections with support groups, etc. Or maybe you really don’t want to just give up on the whole thing all at once. In that case…

Mute or Unfollow Stressful Accounts

If someone (or something if it’s a business account) is causing you stress because of what they post, you don’t need to keep following them. Even if not everything they post makes you want to put your fist through the wall or cry a bucket of tears, if the majority of the time they’re posting things that make your brain go in a direction you don’t like – good or bad – you can unfollow them.

There’s no rule that you have to follow someone. If you’re worried that they’re going to be sad/hurt/angry/mad about you not following them anymore, that’s on them and not you. If it’s a really close friend or family member and they ask you why, hopefully they respect you enough to understand when you explain that reading the 500 anti-Trump articles they post every day doesn’t help your mental health. Or whatever your reason – it’s your feed, not theirs.

I’ll confess that I sometimes fear offending someone by unfollowing. And then I realize how silly that is. I’m not in high school anymore. My following (or not) of someone else isn’t a value statement on them. Their worth shouldn’t be defined by a follower checkbox.

I believe that social media and the web is real and made up of humans more than technology. But it’s not my full reality. I’m not my follower count. And neither are you.

Muting accounts, where possible, is a great way to keep the technical connection without having to deal with any sort of notification that you no longer follow what they’re posting. Facebook and Twitter make this easy to do. Tweetbot, a Twitter client for iOS or Mac, makes it even easier to do a trial of muting an account for 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or forever.

If I did this I would forget everyone I ever followed and be alone in the world. (My memory is shite.) My strategy: mute someone for 30 days. When the mute expires, are you glad to see them?

Muting on Twitter

Muting on Twitter for when Justin Jackson goes on and on about waterbeds

Muting means you still follow them but never see their tweets. Blocking means you’ve unfollowed them and they can’t see anything you do – unless your account is public. Then technically they can just load up your profile in a browser.

In this example, I’d be muting Justin Jackson and would never see his tweets again until I went back and unmuted him. He wouldn’t be notified that I’d muted him. I suppose if he was really worried that I wasn’t following him he could tweet something like “Hey Chris Enns is a filthy stinky booger eater” and when I didn’t respond, he’d know? But who’s got the time for that kind of shenanigans?

Muting on Facebook

Muting Justin Jackson on Facebook

Ironically, Facebook just added the ability to snooze an account for 30 days as I was writing this. So snoozing an account for 30 days means it’ll pop back up in 30 days and start appearing in your feed again.

Unfollowing Justin means I’d still be Facebook friends with him, but I wouldn’t ever see anything he’s posted. He wouldn’t be notified that I’ve unfollowed him. But the “filthy stinky booger eater” test still applies here. Shenanigans I tell you.

Muting on Instagram

Instagram Muting

Currently there’s no way to mute an account’s feed on Instagram. You can mute their Stories though. Once again, the muted account owner is never notified that they’ve been muted, “filthy stinky booger eater” not withstanding.

Make a List and Check it Once or Twice

On Twitter you can make lists, here’s the support doc on how, and you can use lists in a couple of different ways:

  • Throw every account you think you need to keep up on in there, and then unfollow everyone from your main account. Slowly follow people back as you feel like you want them in your timeline.
  • Build a private “quiet” Twitter list of the accounts that don’t tweet much. Switch to using that timeline for a week and see how you feel.

I’ve been really tempted to just unfollow every account I follow at the start of the year. If Twitter had a button to do that, I’d have pressed it already.

I’ve tried a variation on this and it worked for awhile to help me scale back my follower list. But inevitably new people/accounts come along that seem interesting and you find yourself with a torrent of tweets hitting you every day.

Update 2018-01-05: Thanks to @Smokey for this suggestion that Facebook Lists are a thing as well:

I’ve used Facebook’s Lists similarly for the better part of a decade, at first just to keep up with infrequently-posting friends between my infrequent visits, then later to avoid the timeline entirely. Sadly, over the past few years Facebook has been slowly degrading the feature (and trying to hide it), so it only works well if you visit Facebook at least once a week.

Read Websites Not Social Media Accounts

Old timers on the web, like me, will occasionally pine for the old days when people wrote on blogs, like this one, and we used RSS Readers to subscribe to blogs. And before that we just visited the websites we liked directly and refreshed like mad in the hopes that something new would come along to entertain us.

The Office quotes from Andy about the good old days

Try getting rid of the social media apps on your phone and computer devices for a week and just reading blogs and websites directly. Find 10-15 that you think you’ll like from a variety of sources and then just load those up as your browser favs and see how it feels. Use an app like Freedom to block your access to sites that cause you stress or suck your will to live away.

Whether you use the new year to try something new or just want to take a break for a couple of weeks – I’d recommend changing up your routine. There is always going to be more information fed into the social media machine. Whatever you miss out on this week will be quickly replaced by something else next week. The really important stuff will bubble up to the top of your conversations wherever you’re having them – whether it’s on Twitter or coffee row.

And for crying out loud – make sure you drink more water and get some sleep!

I'm outta here


  1. Sorry. Bad joke. Nuclear buttons as a dick size argument make me cranky.