About a month ago, Facebook got a lot of crap for performing psychological experiments on their users by messing with their news feeds and measuring the impact on their moods (as evidenced by subsequent status updates. I don’t know about you, but this creeps me out. It’s been pretty noticeable recently that there have been changes – either intentional by Facebook, or socially with how people are using the tool – that make it less desirable to check your feed. After your last visit, what true benefits did you receive from reading your friends updates? Or how many cat videos did you watch and share again? (Or dog videos, those are really a lot funnier!)
So here are 3 tips for de-cluttering your Facebook Newsfeed:
- Unfollow any pages you may have liked: Unless there is an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G food truck that you must know about every time they are at your office, you don’t need to know about every update for every TV show you ever watched (Veronica Mars is over), every restaurant in town (Oh, thanks for letting me know you close early on this random Monday night in January), or every morning selfie from your favorite celebrity (Thank. You. James Franco!) Unfollow them and get your updates from their website (or even their Facebook page) when you really need to know.You can do this by hovering over any posts from these pages in your Feed, and selecting “Following” from the hover. This will “unfollow.” You can also go to your profile page, visit each individual page you have liked, and click the “Following” button on each page. This will take more time, but you can get it all done at once instead of waiting for their next post.
- Unfollow any “friends” that you do not talk to regularly, or that you do not have intentions to talk to: You don’t have to de-friend them! You can still tell yourself that you’ll call them next time you’re in Chicago… But you don’t need to know that they just washed their dog. Or that they’re having a casual Friday night with the hubby watching Game of Thrones. Of course, if you just met someone and are hoping to make more of it… by all means, use Facebook as a way to keep in touch… but not the ONLY way!You can do this by hovering over someone’s name on your Feed. If you want to systematically go through all your friends, it will take more time. Go to your profile, then your Friends tab. From there you have to hover over every person’s name to see the “Following” button. The Friends tab is sorted with friends that you interact with more at the top, so at some point you can pretty safely unfollow everyone from there down. This could take awhile depending on how many friends you have. Facebook sure doesn’t make it easy for you!
- Unfollow any friends that only share cat videos, or crazy political stances, or pictures of their amazingly cute kids, or whatever it is that really messes with your mood: Yes, this may include your Aunt Clara. Yes, this may include that funny guy that you used to work with 8 years ago that makes you feel insecure for not going out late on a Tuesday night. But you know you need to do this. So do it. If you really need to get an update from Aunt Clara, ask her what she’s been up to when you see her at Thanksgiving. It will give you something to talk about!You can do this one little-by-little as you read your Feed. With each post, see how it makes you feel. Do you feel angry? Sad? Afraid? Distracted? If this is not what you intended with this check of Facebook, consider unfollowing that person.
That should take care of most of it. What remains:
- People you may know: It looks like it only appears once in your feed, so you can skim over it or ignore it.
- Pages you may like: If you keep seeing the same ad, you can use the drop-down to “Hide all ads from …” You may find yourself doing this a few times for different pages, but after awhile you will see less and less.
- Your friend has liked this page: Same as above, you can select “Hide all ads from…” to avoid seeing these, but you have to select it for each individual page.
But before you’re done, I encourage you to take a step back for a minute. Think about what your intentions are when you check Facebook. Maybe there is a better place to get the updates you want!
- Checking in with Friends & Family – try Instagram or Pat. Personally, I like Instagram so much more for getting regular updates from family. It requires a picture, which I love, and there are no sharing of annoying articles or videos. And less of your annoying relatives are on it. Bonus!
- Checking in with previous coworkers – LinkedIn is much more appropriate.
- Celebrity news – BuzzFeed Entertainment, TMZ, Entertainment Weekly, and all the others are so much more thorough, if this is your thing.
- Cat videos! – BuzzFeed or even just Vimeo and YouTube – subscribe to channels there and create your own feeds
- Express your own opinion – Twitter may get you followers that are really interested in what you have to say
- Random conversations – Again, Twitter works, but also, there are plenty of Forum sites that allow you to dig deep on your favorite topics with people who are just as interested as you are
So consider your objective in using Social sites. If these tools are not meeting your objective, ditch them and find new ones. You wouldn’t keep an old refrigerator if it didn’t keep your food cold. Especially if it kept bombarding you with cat videos! If your tools are sufficient with just a telephone and good old face-time, then consider eliminating Facebook altogether. As I was going through the exercise above, I was quite impressed with the number of friends that have deleted their accounts. I feel that many of us may follow suit soon. If you’re not ready to cut the cord completely, consider trying to avoid logging in for 99 days.
Good luck, friends, and remember, you are in charge of your destiny! Don’t let a random company of 20-somethings determine how you spend your time or how your mood should change.