Digital Social Distancing

A handful of weeks ago I started unfollowing people on Twitter. Whenever someone consistently shared anything that made me upset or angry, whether I agreed with their position or not, I unfollowed them.

Before I started unfollowing, I made extensive use of Tweetbot’s mute feature to remove this type of stuff from my timeline. Initially doing so by muting some keywords, but too often things would slip through the cracks. So I began muting individuals for a period of timing — sometimes for a week, and other times for a month. But what that resulted in was the anger and frustration returning to my timeline once the mute filter lapsed.

So I began unfollowing. And some of the people I unfollowed are genuine friends of mine. But I’ve sort-of reached a breaking point. I was becoming more and more miserable with each passing day and my Twitter timeline — a place that used to be filled with links to neat applications, interesting gadgets, and positive ideas — was filled with political stories that just made me unhappy.

I don’t want to lose those friendships, though, I simply want to take a break from their ability to inject those sorts day-wrecking tweets into my life. So for every person that I unfollowed, I added them to a private list on my Twitter account. That way, once things have settled down a bit — hopefully in about a month or so — I’ll be able to refollow and start conversing more regularly again.

But I propose a term that can be used for this:

Digital Social Distancing: the act of distancing yourself from others on social networks — by unfollowing, muting, etc. — with the goal of preventing anger from infecting your mental health.