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Culling the Information Feed

Information and entertainment sources like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook have their place. I’ve found each highly enjoyable at points in my life, and each infuriatingly addictive for all the wrong reasons at other times. I look back on time wasted, time I could have spent immersed in something better, and feel disappointed in myself. And like many people I grow to hate the very thing that had me so fixated for chunks of my life. At these times I cull the information feed.

I hear the voices of those who tell me they simply scroll past posts that are annoying or designed to get a reaction. That’s sweet. I mute, unfollow, unfriend. This is early-stage app culling, but it does wonders for your sanity in the moment.

If you use Twitter for a news feed and start following an endless stream of personalities, you soon find yourself overwhelmed with information from them, or worse, information from people they’re informed by. This is designed to draw you in, prompt you to follow that person too, and pretty soon you’re full-on addicted to an app. Next stage culling involves clicking on every one of those unsolicited posts and teaching the algorithm that you’re not interested in this Tweet, or to mute or block the source so you’ll never see it again (you won’t, but you’ll still be subjected to the reaction to the source in your feed).

The next stage is to delete the app itself. Say goodbye to it for awhile, post about leaving the party (It’s not you, it’s me) or simply disappear from other people’s feed for a time. I used to believe the world cared whether or not my updates and clever posts would continue in their lives. The world is completely shell-shocked by information and doesn’t particularly care whether we posted that day or not. If anything, our absence gives them a microsecond of breathing room during their scroll. Addition by subtraction, if you will.

The thing is, it’s okay to cull your information feed. Delete the app, it’ll still be there if you want to get reacquainted someday. But what you find is that you’ve both changed in the time you’ve been absent from each other’s lives. And in the process of reconciling that, you’ll find that you just not into each other anymore.

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