A couple of days ago, I logged onto Facebook and decided to unlike the majority of the news sites I followed on it. The result: I feel so much better for having done it.
It had been a long time coming. Day after day I had gone onto there, saw the news stories that had clogged up my feed and had found myself feeling everything from sadness to disappointment to anger. Not so much at the stories themselves (however, yes there have been a lot of awful stuff going on this year), but more at the comments that were attached to each of the stories. For as anyone who ventures onto Facebook knows, the average news item usually has a stream of comments from people who are at best ignorant and at worst, completely unpleasant human beings – especially if those news stories happen to include the words “Brexit”, “Trump”and “extremists”. Such contributions often include the use of the words “leftie”, “leftard”, “libtard” and “remoaners” in order to insult ones giving opposing views. To have compassion for others is seen as a bad thing, and the likes of Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins are heralded as heroes. The whole level of intellectual debate in the average Facebook news post is anything but intellectual, to the point that if any of the angry mob who populate them were to engage in debate with a member of a high school debating society the latter would wipe the floor with them. That’s if the former not already been kicked out of the debate for insulting their opponent (if you have to resort to insults, you’ve lost the argument. Perhaps the only thing Margaret Thatcher said that most of us can agree with).
I occasionally commented on stories, and while I didn’t get a barrage of abuse for being a pro-EU, left leaning, feminist-ey liberal type (in fact, I did get a few likes for my comments), I did feel a bit uneasy later on. I didn’t wade in to get into slanging matches with people, I just wanted to give my opinion on an issue and hope that there was someone who would, if they did disagree, be respectful of my opinion, as I would they. Unfortunately in the world of Facebook and social media at large, this is a very rare occurence. Even I’ve bordered on the verge of trolling in the past – who hasn’t?
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was getting tired how the news posts and the comments attached to them were making me feel, so I chose to stop following them. Already I feel less angry and sad about how people are. Sure I’m still down about what’s going on in the world, but by cutting it out of my Facebook feed I feel a little bit better. Let’s face it, in an age of 24 hour rolling news, be it on TV or online, we are being bogged down with information and it isn’t healthy for us, at all. In fact, it could be argued that the state of comments on Facebook, and on news stories across the internet are highlighting just how unhealthy it all is. We could all do with cutting down our news intake now and again, for the sake of our wellbeing.
I plan to mute any news accounts I follow on Twitter next.