The world is full of noise. See this, try that, go there, stay here, read this, watch that. Previously, you were mostly met by those noises when you went outside — advertisements would be visible in the streets, sellers would be shouting from their stands and the chit and chatter of people would be rising and falling all around you.
Nowadays the picture is different. Regardless of where we are, we are overflooded with noise. As we spend more and more time online, browsing through social media feeds, consuming content and surfing the web, we are being bombarded from all sides by so much sh.., I mean stuff, all the time. No matter where we go or what we do, the noise is there. Some of it is cool for sure, but most of it seems so random and irrelevant to me that I wonder whether those algorithms even work. To some extent I guess we have gotten used to it, but do we really have to accept it? To live with it? To have all that noise in our lives and no moment of peace and quiet?
No. Luckily there are means of escape — and not even the lets-go-to-a-hut-in-the-woods, but a more modern-day way to get some release from all the chitter-chatter: Cleaning up your social media feeds.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks doing exactly that, and the effects of it have so far been absolutely amazing. I’m actually seeing posts from people I care about again and I have a lot less to scroll through before I’m up to date again. I can only recommend it if you feel like A) you spend too much time on social media or B) wish for your feed to be relevant and actually useful.
The rules of the game are pretty simple, but it takes a bit of confronting that FOMO a lot of us struggle with. Cleaning up usually includes sorting out, and that’s also the case in the virtual world. So you won’t be able to see everything from everyone if you follow this guide (but do you really want that anyway? Seriously?) If you’re still up for it, here are three easy steps with amazing results.
Step 1: Mute people’s stories on Instagram
I only recently found out that you can mute people’s stories on Instagram, and holy moly, that’s an amazing option! Whenever I connect with a new contact on Instagram, it doesn’t take long for me to feel the dread of having to click through their private stories that often take place in a language I don’t understand and with people I don’t know. I love watching these from people in my closer circle and whom I have regular contact with, but when it’s someone I met at a workshop a year ago and whom I’ll probably never meet again, I sort of lose interest after a while. No offence. I’m sure they feel the same about my stories too. The radical option would of course be to unfollow them, but I’m more than satisfied with the option of muting them. It works wonders.
Step 2: Unfollow people on Facebook
Over the years, I’ve gained so many friends on Facebook. They are from all over the globe, with all sorts of backgrounds and with so much to tell the world. I already follow the strict rule of only accepting people on Facebook whom I have met in real life, but even so, as the years pass by the number keeps rising. Similar to Instagram, I’d feel sorry to unfriend all of those people — I share treasured memories with many of them — but I really don’t need to see group pictures of a friend’s friends or birthday parties from kids I didn’t know existed. Call me cold-hearted, but pictures of strangers don’t mean much to me. So I’m unfollowing the shit out of my Facebook contacts as they pop up in my feed (meaning that we stay friends, but I don’t see them in my feed), and again: the results are unbelievable. Suddenly posts I actually want to see from people I have a close relationship with appear again.
Step 3: Re-evaluate regularly
My Twitter feed and parts of my Facebook feed are also strongly marked by the life-phases I’ve been through. During my younger years, I spent a lot of time watching series and consuming other people’s content and thus followed everything from authors and actors to musicians and various media platforms. As my interests have moved on, naturally so should my feed — and it should continue to do so, meaning a continuous process of unliking and unfollowing. When something bores me in my feed, I take direct action against it, so it doesn’t continue to take up space. It takes a bit of awareness. You cannot mindlessly scroll through and clean up at the same time, but if you put in a bit of effort, it more than pays off.
Less time, more inspiration
Despite having a relevant feed now, I actually spend less time on social media than before. I no longer have to search for the good stuff — it’s right there! And in addition, the short time I now spend browsing through social media is actually time well spent. I more frequently stumble upon cool articles, interesting podcasts and creative work from people I care about. It is deeply inspirational and motivates me to create more myself too. I can easily say that cleaning up those feeds have been one of the best ideas I have had this month. All those platforms actually have the potential to serve us, instead of distract us. I’d never have guessed!