How to Take a Partial Social Media Break

Something I’ve noticed a LOT of friends doing lately is backing away from social media. I’ve been doing a partial social media break, since as a blogger I can’t really take a total break — but I’ve definitely modified my consumption. So let’s talk about it: What are you doing with the extra time if you’re on a break? Where are you getting your news and intel if you’re on a TOTAL break? What other ways are there to take a partial social media break? (In related news, we’ve also talked about how to focus on work when current events are stressful.) Some options I’ve heard of or have done myself for a partial social media break:

1) Modify your news feed so you don’t see people, groups, or news sources that are stressing you out. I regularly do this trick with people I’m “friends” with on Facebook for some historical reason, but don’t want to see every hourly thought from — for example, that guy who sat behind me in English class in 11th grade. I will also admit that I did this with groups like Pantsuit Nation and Lawyers for Good Government, particularly in the days before the inauguration where I felt like I kept seeing frenzied posts containing bad information.

Here’s how to hide posts from friends: Click the dropdown arrow and then choose “Unfollow ____.” You’ll stay friends but stop seeing posts.

How to unfollow friends

And here’s how to unfollow news sources and groups — click the dropdown button and you can “hide all.” (As I note below, since the election I’ve “liked” a lot of conservative news sources on FB — but I’m obviously still getting partisan news from my side of the political spectrum as well!)

how to hide stressful news from your Facebook feed

2) Limit your sources. There’s been a lot of talk of fake news, reliable news sources, etc. (Here’s a handy chart, although it is not without criticism.) I just don’t open anything from sources I consider to be “bad” news. (If it really seems urgent I’ll head to The New York Times to see if they’re covering it.) (As a former journalist and media lawyer, a minor plea: Please support good journalism where you can! The Washington Post is having an amazing deal for Prime members; the NYT is also pretty affordable. The Wall Street Journal is a bit more expensive, but I always enjoy their stories! We also had a whole discussion on how to follow current events a few weeks ago.)

3) Expand your sources. This may be counterintuitive, but I’ve found it kind of helpful. After the election results, I tried to start following a lot of reputable, conservative news sources on Facebook so I would get a more balanced view of the world. Sometimes it’s been like Bizarro World (particularly as Obama’s administration ended), but lately everyone seems to be on the same page — and I find it oddly comforting that no one seems particularly happy with the way things are going right now.

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4) Limit your viewing time. I’ve talked before about my love of the Chrome extension, Morphine, or the Firefox extension, Leechblock, and I have strict viewing limits on Facebook. This doesn’t help, though, if you’re the type to go into Facebook and click on 3-5 news articles you see in your feed — the extensions will block you from Facebook itself after the time ends but you’ll still waste time on those 3-5 news articles.

5) Don’t check Facebook at times you’re prone to anxiety. I SHOULD be doing this, but I do not. I check Facebook right before bed, in part because I’m on my phone or iPad and am not time-limited like I am on my computer (thanks to the different extensions mentioned above).

6) Develop a calming routine after you check Facebook. It may sound crazy, but I’ve found it’s helpful — I’m kind of binge-reading brain candy books right now as a necessary step before bed, since I tend to check FB at the end of the day.

7) Double down on kitty pictures. There are a number of extensions that help fill your news feed or other parts of the web with kitty pictures, let you remove all politics from Facebook, and otherwise “fix” your feed.

Ladies, have you considered taking a social media break for a while? Have you done it cold turkey, or done a partial social media break like I’ve done?

(Oh, and full disclosure: I still own stock in Facebook.)

how to take a partial social media break

How to take a partial social media break from stressful news

Comments

  1. Senior Attorney :

    I think it’s a great idea to follow conservative media outlets on Facebook. I already subscribe to WSJ and just followed them on Facebook. What other sources do people suggest?

    • Anonymous4 :

      I’ve seen a number of my friends who are more left than I who have appreciated articles from National Review/National Review Online. It’s more an opinion site than a news site, but a number of their writers have been noticeably opposed to Trump’s presidency since the primaries. There seems to be a balance to their perspective because of this.

    • I followed Reason, a Catholic magazine (“American Magazine”), The Hill, and The Fiscal Times, although Hill News doesn’t seem terribly conservative to me. I also followed The Federalist Society but haven’t seen much from them. If other people have suggestions I’d love them.

      • I like America Magazine, but I wouldn’t consider it conservative. It’s Jesuit and it tends pro-life in a way that includes many social justice issues. If you want an intelligent and informed Catholic perspective on politics, it’s good.

    • Anonymous :

      I read The Economist and The Hill regularly. They both skew slightly right compared to other news sources, but are very reputable publications with strong journalism.

    • Anonymous :

      There was a great infographic circling the internet after the election, it gives the breakdown of many different news sources in terms of partisanship and depth of analysis.

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2016/12/whats-your-source.html

      • Thanks for sharing this! I mainly go on Slate/Atlantic/Vox/Guardian/The Hill/ Ny Times/Bloomberg (not on chart) so not bad. And CNN, but that’s more if there is something going on that I need to know moment-by-moment, or to get an idea of what the masses are seeing.

    • I’m a longtime NPR supporter, but about a year ago I quit listening to the radio on my hour-long commute because the news stressed me out. Now I visit their website a couple of times a day; I like being able to read what I find interesting/important and bypassing the rest. I also regularly read articles from the NY Times and the Guardian.

      • That’s a great idea! I had to stop listening for the same reason and I take doses from some of my favorite NPR shows via podcasts on their app but I do miss the news coverage at times.

    • I follow the National Review, but I am careful about whose writing I read. I don’t always agree with them but find Victor Davis Hanson and David French to generally be fact-based and reasoned in their writing. Jonah Goldberg is another one on NRO that I read. Kat Timpft is a funny read if you are into that sort of thing.

      • Anonymous4 :

        Agreed on both VDH and David French. Kevin Williamson is hit or miss for me, as is Goldberg.

    • A friend of mine developed an app called Contempo that sorts news into “left buzz/right buzz” – it tracks and sorts news by sources and “sides”. it’s interesting & easy to use. It’s in the apple app store & I imagine available on droid too.

  2. I took the Facebook app off my phone. I still look at the website in the mornings when I”m eating breakfast, and sometimes if I’ve got a lot of time to kill, but it’s taken care of the reflexive “i’ve got 2 minutes to kill let’s check facebook & get stressed out”.

  3. I wish there were a way to hide all the crap that clutters my newsfeed as result of “so and so Liked this article” or “so and so Commented on this.”

    If I want world news, I know where I want to find it, and it’s not from my aunt-in-law’s post about Florida immigrants.

    • Ugh, yes. It used to be an option to hide someone’s comments and likes, but they got rid of it with one of their privacy changes. I miss it.

  4. Shopaholic :

    I find twitter to be less anxiety-inducing than facebook to be honest. I actually really like twitter as a news source.

    • really depends on who you follow because my Twitter feed is much more anxiety inducing (and intellectual) than Facebook.

  5. If you want to share news on Facebook but not with everyone on your friends list, create a separate friends list just for that. (As an aside, I did that a few years ago for sharing kid photos. It has 25-30 people on it, all family members and close friends who know and love my kids and actually care about those updates.)

  6. Anonymous :

    I have a question that I was going to save for the afternoon thread but it seems appropo for this conversation.

    Husband is conservative and I am liberal. It’s always been this way, and other than occasional flare-ups during big election years, we’ve been fine for the ten years we’ve been married. This works in part b/c I am super passionate about politics and the state of the world, and he is passive/cares less.

    Well, this recent election has taken us just about to the brink. He voted for Donald Trump — in our swing state — based purely on party affiliation/social issues. (Note: not here to argue about why his vote was/wasn’t asinine. Just stating the facts.) He has since apologized for how he voted and admitted he made a mistake. Last night he said to me, “I agree with you that things are a mess.” This is the closest we’ve come to political alignment in the 11.5 years we’ve known each other.

    That said, I am in a bad place. I’m calling my reps daily, going to political meetings, and my life is consumed by fighting back. Part of that is because I am the child of an immigrant and I have Muslim family members who now cannot travel out of the US lest they not be allowed back in, so while I think Trump is a lunatic the recent turn of events is highly personal. Although Husband thinks things are a mess, he is not going to do anything about it — either in the wider world or in our smaller circle. This goes back to when he and I were first dating: a friend of mine had coincidentally gone to HS with him (which was totally random — we met in a city 2+ hours away from their shared hometown). She said, “He was really popular. Never mean to me, but was friends with guys who were.”

    He and I had a tense conversation last night where I pointed out that I feel marginalized/isolated — we are physically/emotionally close with his conservative family, and none of them (who are all otherwise nice to me) have asked how my college-age Muslim sister is doing in all of this mess. My husband also has not reached out to my sister (although he is concerned about her/is supportive of her living with us if need be) and doesn’t think it’s on him to give his family a heads up about what’s going on in my/our lives right now. He’s well known for being a straight-and-narrow, stand-up guy of strong moral fiber…but taking a public stand is not his thing. I’m now asking/needing him to take a stand with family and friends and he doesn’t see why he has to.

    I’m sorry if this is convoluted. I feel marginalized and unimportant to him, and this makes me so incredibly sad. From his perspective, he thinks that he’s a loving husband (which is true) and a good dad (true x1000) and why isn’t that enough? Am I asking too much of him to start being a little more public/united in all of this? Blerg. Thanks for reading if you made it this far.

    • I am really sorry; that sounds terribly difficult and upsetting. And he’s far from the only Trump voter who isn’t openly admitting to making a mistake, except behind very, very closed doors. This isn’t as personal to him as it is to you, and that sucks. For now (not forever, but for now), can you accept his admission as a first step toward solidarity and support? I know it doesn’t feel like enough, and I don’t blame you for being ticked. But if he’s never been especially vocal before, it might take him a long time to get there if he’s a go-along-to-get-along type of guy. If he’s not willing to take a stand with family and friends, is he willing to do something more privately (calling senators, signing petitions, writing emails)? Honestly, I don’t know how far you can push him, though.

    • TorontoNewbie :

      No idea, but *hugs* from an Internet stranger.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Oh, what a mess! I don’t have much to offer but love and support for you.

      Maybe anon at 3:24 is right and this will be a process for him and the first step is admitting he was wrong to vote for Trump. The “he was friends who were mean to me” thing is concerning, though, isn’t it?

      I don’t think you’re asking too much. But I also see how it could totally feel like “too much” to him. Ugh. I hate to invoke Godwin’s Law, but what would he say if he asked you what he’d do if it were Germany ca. 1933?

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t expect this to be a popular opinion here, but I think that it sounds like you are pushing your opinion on him. Would you want him to push his perspective on you? I think you will probably have to agree to disagree on this one.

      I really am sorry this is causing you so much stress and wish you the best.

      • I agree with you Anon. Not only that, but unless the sister spends a lot of time with your inlaws, why should they be asking if she feels marginalized?

        You need to figure out you. You have to figure out your baggage and deal with it and not expect others to deal with your baggage.

        As a sidenote: not American and have no horse in the race, but why can’t people just give him a chance? Looking at the riots and protests and all that since the election, I am absolutely disgusted at how people dealt with defeat. There is something called a “sore loser”.

        • Anonymous :

          Easy does it squiggles – this is not a sore loser thing. Protests have been peaceful. Trump was elected by an overwhelming minority – it becomes overwhelming if you count those who didn’t vote – so this goes beyond “popular”. The husband, who did vote, admits the president was a mistake.

          As for giving him a chance – the upheaval of the past two weeks is noteworthy. There has been a lot of progress in the past 50 years…and he’s not showing up well with his own flavor of what’s next.

          As for the OP, the husband cannot undo his vote. The change is moving forward on the changes he wants to see – ideally some that you agree with – and taking action. This includes volunteering or donating to causes that help democracy. Maybe he will feel strongly enough to connect with his Rep or Senator on some topics…eventually?

    • Please don’t focus on politics as a foundation of your marriage. You knew this when you dated and married, so why start getting your feelings hurt now? Being political wasn’t his thing, but you knew he was a standup guy….that is what really matters in your day to day family life.

      Politics is an external influence that personally affects you but it does not impact him the same way, so he can’t relate. You are concerned about your sister and how she is feeling or how society interacts with her, but men (generalization here) are clueless to most emotional clues and wouldn’t even think about it. Did he normally check in and have concerns on your sister?

      Compare politics as your personal hobby of what you are interested in. Most couples don’t share hobbies and that is OK. Since you are actively involved and volunteering, this is consuming you more as you are surrounding yourself with likeminded people, but your husband is not one of them. This is still OK as he is the love of your life :) Don’t make this about him…that is how a marriage crumble.

      Keep the current president and political tone in perspective. This political climate is a short term moment in the many years of your married life that you will share together. In 50 years from now you will reflect on how it was that strange 4 years, AND it will seem so irrelevant compared to the moments in your family life: enjoying kids growing up, traveling, career accomplishments, etc.

      If you need to vent your frustrations like this, see a therapist, talk to a friend or do it here. A husband can’t serve all your emotional needs.

  7. I don’t have any answer either, but wanted to let you know you’re not alone and that I’m sorry to hear this. Politics has caused some strain in my marriage lately as well. My husband’s always been a fairly moderate conservative and I’m pretty liberal. He voted for Clinton but hasn’t been as appalled by Trump as I am (he acknowledges he’s an awful human being and poor president, but argues much of what he’s done would have been done – albeit better executed and with more forethought – by any Republican President). In fact, we’ve had several conversations where he’s either trying to explain why some people still support Trump or why my doomsday scenarios are unlikely to happen. I think he means to be reassuring (that the world isn’t going to end) but I just end up upset that he doesn’t see how dire things are and feel that sort of rationalization is what will allow things to escalate.

  8. Anonymous :

    I took a FB vacation just after the election and have not looked back. The final straw for me was when I found myself writing a “take no prisoners” type of post about the people who claimed voting for a racist did not make them a racist. I still can’t trust myself to not post something incredibly inflammatory, and I have had to decide that I love certain (pro-Trump) family members more than I hate Trump (at least on a good day). The results; I am noticeably happier and calmer without FB in my life. I get news from NYT, WSJ, and a bit from Twitter as well as local paper. I do not see ever becoming a regular FB user again in my life.

  9. Anonymous :

    Take FB off your phone! That will help a lot.

  10. WorkingMom :

    I completely quit social media, I actually did so prior to the election. My reason wasn’t entirely based on politics, but the state of the conservative vs liberal battle on FB – where both sides are calling each other horrible names and telling the opposing viewpoint they are stupid, etc – it was the straw that broke the camels back.

    Here’s the thing… it’s been several months (I don’t remember when I actually quit FB exactly) – and it was the BEST thing I ever did. I was never one of those super addicted to FB people; although let’s be real, we’re all at least a little bit addicted, right?! Comparison is the thief of joy – that was a big reason I quit. I found myself comparing myself to others and wondering “what I did wrong” because some of peers are (or at least appear so on FB) wildly more successful than I am, etc. I was also getting all kinds of fired up when I would experience a political run-in with a FB-friend. Why was I wasting my time and energy worrying about FB friends? I cut it out of my life, all social media, and I’m so glad.

    The first few weeks – I read a bunch of books that I had been collecting and intending to read and never got around to it. I am more present with my family, less distracted at work, etc. Overall – it was a huge life improvement. I highly recommend it to everyone! I get my news through various online sources, radio and tv. I read blogs like this one, and I’m so much happier! I’m definitely in the “social media is destroying our society” camp.

    • I’m totally inspired. I actually work in digital media so I can’t get rid of social media completely, but I’m feeling the pull to cut back a lot.

  11. Related to avoiding politics online, I really wish websites or brands focused on, say, fitness, home decor, women in corporate life (ahem), or fashion topics, would refrain from posting anything political altogether. I, as I suspect most people, visit these sites to get away from the Facebook blather and nonstop news. I feel tricked when content I’m otherwise enjoying veers needlessly into the political. It especially strikes me as a poor business/branding decision. With the US being split just about 50/50 in its leanings, why risk alienating up to half your followers?

    Some may bleat out the it’s-their-right-to-post-what-they-want cliche. No one is disputing that. But generally if we want politics, we’ll go to those sites.

  12. Minnie Beebe :

    Double down on kitty pictures. Ha!!

    I will say that now, more than I have in recent months, I really REALLY miss cuteoverload.com.

    :(

  13. I have completely stopped consuming news except for 45 minutes in the morning on my commute. We unsubscribed to cable several years ago and it is wonderful. I also have never received a newspaper after I graduated from college. I figure if it’s important enough or relevant to my safety and daily life, I will hear about it by word of mouth.

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