My Two-Step Sanity Saver for News Overload

I pride myself on how many articles I read a day, how many resources I can find, and how much of the news/information firehose I can consume without exploding. But I have my limits, and oh my, have they been getting tested lately. Some days I vacillate between the options of throwing my computer out a window and hiding under my desk.

In the name of self-care I wanted to ease up a little. In June I wrote an article on strategies for taking a news break, but went I went and looked back at it I thought, “It’s too much and too precise for what I want to do. I just want to shut up Twitter and Facebook for a while without shutting them completely off. There’s got to be some kind of way to do that.”

A few minutes later I had a way. Two steps and I’ve got a little breathing room to keep my head on straight while I continue to do ResearchBuzz. Let me share it with you.

Note: you will need to use TweetDeck instead of the regular Twitter interface, and you’ll need to install one browser extension.

Step One: Twitter / TweetDeck

TweetDeck is arranged in a series of movable columns instead of a single stream like the Twitter home page has. This is a good thing when you want to monitor several different kinds of conversations. It’s also good when you want to give yourself a bit of a break.

Here’s how my TweetDeck page looked before I made an adjustment. I had a couple of lists set up as columns, my home feed, notifications, etc.

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You can reorder the columns in TweetDeck. Just click on the handle on the left side of the column and drag the column.

I dragged off my home feed and the US Attorneys general feed to the right, and put my Likes column and my Messages column in its place, so now my feed looks like this:

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This is what’s visible when I go to my TweetDeck tab. It’s easy for me to tweet or message someone if I have a resource I think they’ll find useful. At the same time the busy columns are out of my vision, and I have to deliberately move right on the screen to see them.

I can hear you now: “Okay, Cal, this is the dumbest tip ever. You moved a column and you’re acting like it made a big difference.”

Here’s the thing, though. It DID. I had not appreciated how mindlessly I would flip over to the TweetDeck tab and just watch the activity on my home feed or one of my lists, getting sucked into it (wasting time) and depressed simultaneously. Now,  if I go to the site there’s very little that’s changed and if I want to go to the home feed I have to make the deliberate decision to move sideways on the screen. I can look to the right and see a tiny slice of the home feed scrolling at about a hundred miles an hour. Then I look at my much slower-moving visible columns and feel like I’m in my own little TweetDeck box fort.

Blanking out Facebook was very quick, and once again left me with the ability to post something quickly if I needed to. It takes one extension.

Step Two: Facebook

I used an extension for this one. It’s called News Feed Eradicator for Facebook.

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It’s good to be aware of potential security problems with add-ons, but the News Feed Eradicator asks only for access to Facebook pages (it can’t do the job without that access.)

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News Feed Eradicator simply erases your feed and replaces it, if you like, with an inspirational quote.

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If you click the News Feed Eradicator text, you’ll get a small set of options. As you can see you can add in your own inspirational quotes. I’m thinking that “HEY GET BACK TO WORK” might be useful.

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Like the TweetDeck change, this doesn’t unilaterally turn everything off. You can go to a group page, or a friend’s page, and everything will display like usual. And like TweetDeck, it takes a deliberate action to do that, a little hoop you have to jump through that hopefully breaks the mindless pattern of visit-scroll-get depressed/angry/anxious/whatever.

This two-step might be a little simplistic for you. For my part I’ve found it helps me escape the habitual time-wasting, negative-vibing of social media that I slip into when I get tired or lose focus. I hope eventually I can take that saved energy and put it into a more positive-sum community.

2 replies »

  1. I’m surprised so many of my colleagues view twitter through the algorithm ad-encrusted web view. With Tweetdeck almost never stare into the stream, it’s way off to the side.

    Another strategy is to create a list or few of accounts that give you more value in terms of information. I can follow voraciously in twitter, but my key column, where I look first is a sub-Dunbar 129 people (@ResearchBuzz definitely there).

    And don’t get me started with the people who boast they have replaced RSS Readers with Twitter/FB….

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