Linux For Poets

Open Source Nerding and Pondering

Social Media and Keeping the Madness at Bay

Note: To keep my conscience clear, I must say that the best solution for Facebook, probably, is to delete your account. They have a very dodgy privacy record, and collect a lot of personal information. A good rule of thumb for big outfits like that being, if they don’t make money directly from you, they probably make money off you, by selling your info for advertising. Just saying.

For the moment however, I still use Facebook to communicate with friends and family, and I have a business page for my silk painting. So it serves a purpose. As a free software and privacy advocating person, I’m not proud. You understand.

Aside from the security concerns, Facebook and other media constantly vies for your attention. Attention has become one of the most sought after commodities in this world. It seems like everything is blinking and asking for you to look at it, be it TV, radio, those bright electric billboards on the road, social media or advertising on phones, tablets and computers, (Remember when popups were frowned upon? They’re everywhere again!). It’s a nonstop barrage of input.

The purpose of social media, and many web sites, is to lure you into spending more time on their site, sucking you in to the next bit of content to consume. I am aware of this, and still find it difficult not to get distracted and sucked in to the next article or bit of clickbait. Clearly a stronger woman would see it for what it is and be impervious to the tricks, but I still find it easy to be hypnotized by it. So I’ve devised a couple of tools to help me out. It can become an actual issue for mental wellbeing. Our little human minds weren’t built for that level of constant noise and distraction (this is new in the last twenty years of human history, after all). Scaling back this digital noise makes me feel calmer and more focused – making life feel in a real way.

The balance is in using the tools and electronics that are of interest and help to you, without getting overwhelmed or hypnotized by it all. It’s good to have some simple strategies to limit the amount of input, to reclaim and protect my own mental space.

Until I find the fortitude and alternatives to replace it altogether, I have found a couple of tricks for restricting Facebook down to a manageable amount of digital noise.

Messaging Without all the Noise

Use Franz to check messages. ( This is a nice little app that has a messaging interface for Facebook, Slack and a bunch of others. By checking messages in a separate app rather than the Facebook web site, it becomes a lot more like checking email, and spares you the notifications and distractions of the web site. Franz is free for Linux, Mac and Windows.

Filtering out Some Extra Rubbish

The Social Fixer browser extension ( I use it on Firefox and it has various gadgets you can use to filter out posts on whatever topic you feel too bombarded by. But the real power is hitting the Hide Posts entry, and typing the word “shared” into the text box. This removes all the shared articles and posts from your feed, which for me is where the real crap comes in. It shows a little line of text where it filtered them out, so you can peek at what you’re missing if you want to. But generally you’re not missing much. Just the articles that your aunts and friends find most disturbing or triggering, i.e. clickbait. Social Fixer is an add-on for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and others.

So yes. This helps. Attention is a precious resources in our world. Notice how it is being manipulated, and guard and protect it.