Culture

How To Dodge The Internet

Internet user, you have the power to banish Breaking Bad spoilers from your life forever.

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Whoever said ‘Just ignore it and it’ll go away’ must have done so before the internet was a thing. Yes, the media has always taken what’s popular and turned it into the painfully visible and over-saturated, but it’s never seemed so cripplingly pervasive as it has in this politics/Breaking Bad/Miley Cyrus-filled month.

“It’s trending” seems to be enough of an excuse to create a slew of content that will be forgotten the instant the next former child star queefs on stage, incites a Twitter beef, or gets a questionable haircut. So no matter where you sit on the scale of chill dude to curmudgeon, annoyances invade our personal devices continually throughout the day – and proactive measures need to be taken.

Here are a few suggestions for keeping your feeds free of that which you’re already really, really over, which others are only just discovering.

Filter Your Browser:

Browsers like Chrome and Firefox have handy extensions and other features that will filter out net neophytes or those over-excited about their pets/children/life partners. These are incredibly useful for Facebook.

A great example is unbaby.me, which comes with standard infant-related filters, but allows you to start from scratch, and plug any key terms you want to avoid — Miley, Breaking Bad, Q and A — and replace any posts about them with photos of things you actually like, found from Instagram (à la #Marutaro,  #Burgers, #teacuppigs).

This will only work on your desktop, though; there’s so far no way to filter the Facebook app — an especially crucial exercise every Monday after Breaking Bad. For now it seems you’ll have to unsubscribe or unfriend people who make looking at your feed on the go unbearable. (People who post lengthy tirades about social issues — like, I don’t know, how the bus driver looked at them sideways today — get an honourable mention here. Seriously. Stop doing it. It sucks.) But there are a few specific filters though, like this one, which will tell you which of your Facebook friends might have voted for Abbott, so that you can take swift unfriending action (or send a tsunami of leftist flyers to their house, if you’re that way inclined).

Filter Your Twitter:

Twitter, perhaps because it is so often incredibly annoying, helpfully has a few different options for banishing what you don’t want to see.

You can get Twitter’s own Tweetdeck for your laptop or desktop, or apps like Twitteriffic for your iPhone and Falcon Pro for android, which let you mute specific users or specific hashtags.

Otherwise, if you’re not a big fan of add-ons or can’t be bothered paying a couple of bucks to enhance your Twittersphere experience, you could just use Twitter’s nifty built-in list feature, where you can group together the different people you follow in any way you like. You could make a list for your politically-inclined friends, clever friends, and a separate list of friends who post about Drake – or, you know, whatever. (NB: you can set lists to either public or private to spare the feelings of those filed under the list you titled ‘Annoying’.)

It seems Twitter is working on ways to fill your feed with stuff you like with tailored suggestions, but this is still in its infancy and seems more like an exercise in monetising the platform than creating a better user experience.

Filter Your Instagram:

Instagram already blocks a helluva lot of hashtags (I was disheartened to discover that “fuckpockets” is among them), but that doesn’t stop that girl you haven’t seen since high school from jamming in more generic hashtags than real words. #Laughter is my favourite white-knuckle example.

While you can block users from seeing your photos, Instagram doesn’t let you hide users or filter out hashtags, so you have to suffer through the frustration-induced tension headaches or opt for the potentially awkward unfollow. Hot tip: drop the ones who can’t even use shitty hashtags correctly: “#love#happy#lovehim#puppies#etc#”. If you haven’t figured out the internet yet and aren’t my great aunt, you’re not getting a free pass. Alternatively, if you have a more steely resolve than I do, you could just unfollow your “friends” who aren’t actually your real friends.

Filter Your Emails:

Thankfully the days of the chain email are over, but you do still occasionally get unwanted mail from friends carrying uninspiring articles or super old memes, and it needs to be stopped.

This is simple to do in any in-browser email client, application or program, but it’s particularly easy in Gmail right now, which automatically sorts emails into ‘Primary’, ‘Promotion’ and ‘Social’ tabs — meaning newsletters and advertisements are automatically moved so they’re not all up in your business. If you want to avoid anything specific, like your second cousin’s cat photos, you can create a new filter according to who emails are from or who they’re sent to, or filter by keywords that appear in the subject or body, and then designate what should be done with them.

Wear Earphones At Work:

Invaluable for avoiding office gossip or unwanted overheard anecdotes; also useful in case coworkers are loudly discussing their Paleo diet, a Breaking Bad episode you haven’t watched yet, or the famous babies you already read about that morning and no longer want anything to do with.

If you are under 30, this headphone-wearing behaviour is usually interpreted as a generational quirk (we’re always “plugged in”, or something) rather than rudeness, so you may as well take advantage. I also derive a particular thrill from secretly listening to wildly inappropriate content — like Slayer, or David Choe talking about happy endings — while I’m at my day job.

Did we miss any? Post them in the comments and help a brother out.

Dijana Kumurdian writes about art, design and expensive things (like yachts) at her day job at Vogue Living, and in her spare time is a freelance music writer, Photoshop hobbyist, hip hop DJ and longtime slacker rock fan.