I often hear people say things like “I’m glad that I’m not on Twitter”.

A lot of people see Twitter as just endless drama, political debate, trolling, and perhaps even memes too. I’ve certainly seen it used that way and it might even be the most dominant use cases.

It’s strange behaviour; people are letting them get upset by something they can’t change, and typing messages that don’t do anything other than make other people angry.

That’s not what my twitter timeline looks like; my timeline is filled with art, people working to improve themselves, start businesses, learning & educating. There are a few really wholesome niches that you exist on the fringes. Seek those, and you will see the value of Twitter.

Unfortunately, the more negative use cases are built into the platform; anger-fueled engagement is still engagement after all. When I looked at the #explore section whilst writing this yesterday, I saw outrage about things said by Twenty One Pilots, by Alan Sugar, and a whole host of other things, including, of course, something Trump said. I also saw various announcement about different people catching coronavirus.

There was just a whole lot of things there that will bring you down if you think about them too much. The utility of that information and social discussion to me is not useful; I can’t do anything about any of it, and it just makes me feel bad.

So yeah, I don’t care about any of those trending things. I’ll never go to #explore, and I installed a plugin to hide the “What’s Happening” box (You can do this in uBlock Origin, for example.) If you can’t install a plugin, you can also set your content preferences to a small country like Antigua & Barbuda, which usually has nothing much trending.

Mute Words

Next, if you choose to, you can mute specific keywords so that you never have to see them again. Pieter aggregated a list of words that you might like to mute. But you can also hide other annoying ‘suggested’ content too. I’m not sure if the latter still works, but I have most of those muted just in case.

Careful curation

After that, I’m very careful about who I follow. I only follow people if I find the tweets that they post valuable, or inspiring. For some, I like the content they post themselves, but they retweet a lot of things that I don’t care about. In these cases, I can simply turn off retweets for them using the drop-down on their profile.

Other people share a selection of content that I care about along with content that I don’t, and unfortunately I just have to unfollow these people.

A Metaphor

I treat my social media timeline a beautiful garden; in a garden, you have many beautiful plants trying to grow and flourish for you to appreciate. Some of your beautiful plants get some kind of mold that stunts them and makes them ugly, and you have to trim them back. Then you also have some ugly weeds and some invasive plants that manage to get in from your neighbours, and you have to be ruthless and vigilant in culling them before they overtake things and spoil the whole garden.

It’s kind of a weird metaphor, but that’s how I visualise my social media timelines.

P.S. I'm late to the party, but I recently got a twitter account that you can follow here.