Six easy and effective ways to make your news feed a less miserable place to be.
I think about cutting the cord on Facebook a lot. My anxiety would go down. I would have more privacy. I wouldn’t have to look at ads hawking facials for my butt cheeks anymore.
But there are a few reasons I just can't quit the juice: it’s the easiest way to stay connected to my friends and organizations I care about, it’s where I get the skinny on things I wouldn’t know about otherwise (like the last-known location of my neighborhood's suspected rabid raccoon), and (the biggest hurdle): I’m a marketer - I have to be on there for work.
I’ve accepted, for now, that Facebook is a necessary evil for me and have become increasingly interested in how I can make it suck less. (Alas, surely, it shall always suck.) Whether you take ten minutes now and apply these tips or keep them in mind to employ the next time you're mindlessly scrolling, here are six easy and effective ways to make your feed a less miserable place to be.
1. Unfollow instead of unfriending
Some humans continue to follow people and content that make them frustrated on a regular basis because they don’t want anyone to notice they’ve unfriended them. There’s an easy fix for this: unfollow them instead. You’ll remain friends, they’ll continue to see your content (which might be one of the only differences in perspective they get in their feed - more about that in #4), and you can still visit their profile and feed anytime you’d like - but their posts will no longer be randomly inserted into your scrolling adventure. The next time you see a post that reminds you how much you always hate to see content from a particular jagoff, click the three dots at the top right side of the post and click “Unfollow jagoff”
2. Try Snoozing and Hiding content
Unfollowing might still be too drastic for you. Maybe you’d just like a short break, or to see content from a person less often. You can take both of these magical steps by clicking the same three dots on the top right side of a post. If you select “Snooze for 30 Days,” you’ll get a break from content posted by that person for a full month. Usually, when they come back into your feed after that, you’ll know if you missed hearing from them or it’s time to unfollow them altogether. If you just want to see less from that person, try clicking “Hide Post” - a new option should appear that allows you to select to “See Less” from that poster, leaving room for more of the content you actually want.
3. Follow the organizations, groups, and causes you care about
Now that you’ve dumped some dead weight from your news feed, start following content you actually want to get. If you have favorite organizations, causes, or thought leaders, make sure you enter them into the search bar to find and follow them. Your feed can be full of articles and information straight from the sources you care about. Want to laugh more? Get more independent news? Know what your favorite nonprofit is doing? You can follow all of that and more. You’re the curator of your feed; make it something fulfilling and useful.
4. Follow people who are drastically different than you
At the 2019 Inclusive Innovation Summit, I was given a piece of advice that continually challenges my perspectives and broke me out of my own echo chamber: follow people whose identities, locations, lives, ambitions, work sectors are completely unlike yours. You are moderately in control of who is allowed in your feed, and you have the ability to show yourself content that you don’t see in mainstream media or around your neighborhood. Follow people who have a job you would never dream of trying. Follow people who you find suspicious or off-putting. Follow people who post content that makes you uneasy. Follow perspectives you don’t hear represented in conversations with your friends. Make sure you add people who don’t have your skin color, your geographic location, your level of income, your level of physical ability. It will make you smarter, more empathetic, more culturally competent, and a generally radder person.
5. Make Facebook prioritize content you actually want to see
Some time ago, I realized I had a lot of content in my feed from people I barely talk to, but had no idea what my best friend had posted. Sure, I still want to stay connected to my friends from high school, but I don't really care what they did last weekend. My best friend, however? Show me the box of macaroni they just downed for their dinner: I’m here for it. You can fix this by clicking the drop down menu on the top right corner of the Facebook window. Click on “Settings and Privacy” and navigate to your “News Feed Preferences.” Here’s a handy tool called “See First” that lets you put a star beside the posters you want to see content from at the top of your page. This is where you want to take time to mark the organizations and people you are about most so that every time you start scrolling, you see the things you want to see first.
6. Turn mindless scrolling into mindful scrolling
I find the best way to make these changes is to pay attention to how I feel while I’m scrolling. If a post is beneficial to my day, I make sure I’m prioritizing content from that poster. If a post is a real drag (and a lot of that poster’s content tends to be a drag), I’ll stop scrolling and Snooze, Hide, or Unfollow right there on the spot. If you curate as you go, you’ll have a news feed that feels more personal and more helpful in just a few days. Finally, if you’re the kind of person who sits down to browse and comes out of a fog 2 hours later, it might be time to set a timer for yourself. In “Settings and Privacy”, you can select a daily time reminder so that Facebook lets you know when you’ve been staring endlessly into the void longer than you’d like. This feature also comes native to some phones (and lets you put timers and restrictions on each individual app). Take your time back and consider using it to take a walk or stare at your pet, or read an old school paperback like back in the old days. Your mental health will be better for it. ❖
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