How to Declutter Your News Feed (a.k.a. how to stay informed without going crazy)

Before we get into how to declutter your news feed, let’s talk about why you might need to. If there’s anything we can all agree on these days, perhaps it’s the necessity — and the difficulty — of staying informed in this ever-changing political climate. Many people find the glut of news — real and fake — to be very stressful. News of current events can make one feel informed or misled; hopeful or fearful; vindicated or betrayed.

I’ve written before about stress being a result of mental clutter. Clearing mental clutter is at least as important as clearing physical clutter! And the biggest form of mental clutter I know is worry. Granted, these are worrisome times. But remember:  Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want… right?

Ask yourself what, exactly, do you find stressful?

Is it the constant interruptions?

  • Turn off your notifications! All phones, computers, email apps, and social media platforms have settings that will allow you to control how often you are notified, about what, and in what manner (visual, audible, subtle, overt). Use them! Ask for help if you need it.

Is it the wasted time and energy?

  • Watch less news. Decide how much time you will spend, and set a timer if you need to. Avoid having the TV on in the background at all times.
  • Balance news time with physical, creative, social, or meditative activities. Focus on gratitude, and maintain awareness of the good things in your life, and in the world.

Is it the news itself?

  • Seek out neutral news sources. Biased sources use strong, loaded language (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes). This can be misleading, stressful, and no help at all in bringing people together.
  • Check facts before inadvertently spreading fake, or incredibly biased, news. Click here for a list of “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical ‘News’ Sources”. This Los Angeles Times article describes who created the list and why. If you are posting satire, which can be good for a laugh, don’t assume that everyone recognizes it as such. Please do not look at sites on the list, such as “msnbc.website”, and think, “See, I knew MSNBC was fake news!” The whole point is that odd-looking website urls indicate impostors. The real MSNBC site is “MSNBC.com”. For those who prefer video, here’s a good one: How to Factcheck Fake New Sites. (I can’t find it outside of Facebook, so I hope this link works for everyone.)
  • Keep in mind that for every post in your Facebook news feed you have the choice to click the little down-arrow in the upper right-hand corner and select “Hide post (see fewer posts like this)”.
  • Don’t forget that you can unfollow a source of news without unfollowing the friend who posts from it. If someone is posting items from XYZ news source, click the little down-arrow in the upper right hand corner of the post and select “Hide all from XYZ”, rather than “Unfollow so-and-so”. Voila! No more XYZ in your news feed!

Is it your annoying Facebook friends?

  • Start with decluttering your Facebook friend list. Unfriend whoever meets the non-political criteria outlined in the post I’ve linked to.
  • Unfollow them. They won’t be notified, and unfollowing is more easily reversed than unfriending. (You can “unfriend” and “unfollow” people in person, too! Why not?) If you stay friends you can always go to their Timeline (or call them) to check in. One way to unfollow is to click on the little down-arrow in the upper right-hand corner of their next post and select “Unfollow so-and-so”.
  • This chart will help you decide who to keep, unfriend or unfollow in regards to politics. I created it prior to the election but, sadly, it still applies.

Click here for a printable PDF version of this chart.

  • If you see a post in your news feed, or a comment, that you dislike, just keep scrolling.
  • Don’t be the person who argues with people you don’t even know, such as your friends’ friends. Nothing good ever comes of that.
  • Simply delete comments to your own posts that you find offensive. It’s your “living room”, after all.
  • Adjust your privacy settings if necessary.

Do you suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)?

  • It’s impossible to see or hear everything, much less absorb it, share it, or save it. Let the excess flow by like a leaves in a stream. Maybe you will find the stream-flowing-by image to be relaxing! I sometimes imagine I am standing on a bridge and all the news, inspiring quotes, instructional videos, insightful blog posts, and cute animal photos are flowing by…under one side of the bridge…out the other… If I miss one, I try not to worry. I might drown if I try to catch everything by scrambling down the bank and fishing them out of the water! Chances are they will come around again. (Maybe it’s a moat with a current, more so than a stream. And the bridge is a drawbridge. Be careful what you allow to enter your portcullis, LOL!)

Are you weary of seeing our new president’s face?

  • No, wait! I mean this in a non-partisan way. I’m thinking of those of you who can’t abide the new regime, and to whom the mere sight of his face provokes anxiety. And I’m also thinking of those who are thrilled with the present circumstances, but may be weary of the many unflattering images in your news feed. Either way, you might want to try this app:  Make America Kittens Again (LOL!)

What else are you worried about?

There are a lot of things up in the air. More than usual, to be sure. And it’s harder than ever to know what’s worth worrying about and what isn’t. Still, some things are more likely to happen, and have greater consequences, than others. The Worry Matrix will help you decide what’s worth worrying about, and whether you can do anything about it. If you can do something, don’t worry; take action!

Regardless of your political persuasion, the only thing you can control is you — your own thoughts, and your own behavior. Whether you stay clear of politics; or find a way to become involved in making your neighborhood, your country, and your world, a better place; please keep in mind:

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

(Or voted for reasons you don’t understand.)

Be kind. Always.

How are YOU staying sane in this insane world?

Please share in the comments below!

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Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.

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Comments

  1. I think it is healthy to consider what you want to see. Sometimes, seeing a friend’s posts changes the way you feel about him/her, not for the better. We do have control over what we expose ourselves to, so this is worth the effort. You are like me, Hazel: never met a matrix I didn’t like!

  2. I definitely have a little FOMO going on – and I love your matrix. I actually took a 48 hour social media break a couple of weeks ago. Took all of the apps off of my phone (it’s easy enough to download them back) and set up a Freedom block for my computer. It was interesting (and a little disconcerting) to see how many times I automatically tried to check in, but ultimately worth the break.

    • Good idea, to simply take occasional media breaks. That’s what my first few tips are about, in a way (turning off notifications, balancing news time with other activities), but a longer break once in awhile can only help reduce stress (once you get used to it)!

  3. I’ve been using the ‘Hide all from XYZ’ technique for a while. I have friends who are liking every Facebook Page of the college their child attend and I have a family member that ‘likes’ all the ‘Real Housewives of _____’ Pages. My news feed and I have no time for all that! Speaking of kittens, after the election, I felt the need to change my blue Mac background to a photo of a smiling kitten on a furry carpet. It’s a great stress-buster!

  4. Excellent advice, Hazel!

    The only concern I have is that if we disregard or block everything we don’t agree with, it might close our minds from other points of view that might actually make sense. (I’m not referring to anything specific here, just a general thought.)

    • Yes. In fact, I think that’s our main political problem right now in the US, that conservatives not only hang with conservatives (and liberals with liberals), but that we literally see different things, and slants on things, in our various news sources. If I am bombarded with anti-X and pro-Y news and you are bombarded with anti-Y and pro-X news….without even realizing we are seeing different things….what chance do we have of agreeing on anything? But I’ve had more people ask ME how they can manage their news in terms of time and quantity than I have how they can mix things up and become more open minded and better informed. 😉

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