I’m doing something I should probably do more often: unfollowing a lot of people on social media. It’s not that they’re bad people. Quite the opposite. It’s that unfortunately good people often share bad things.
I block or filter out a lot of people on Twitter and other networks: nazis, bigots, people who point at planes, men’s rights activists, accounts sharing overly graphic images of cruelty, and arseholes of various kinds. And the reason I block them is because they post things I don’t want to see or read.
Unfortunately, many of the people I follow take screenshots of those things and post them online, thereby making me look at the very worst examples of the things I don’t want to see.
They’re doing it for good reasons, such as battling bigotry or cruelty. But they’re doing it in a way that forces me to see things I don’t want to see: the way social media works is that when they post it, it’s injected straight into my timeline whether I want it or not.
In effect, it overrides my choice. I’ve said “I don’t want to see this”, and the social network says “I’m going to show it to you anyway, again and again.”
It’s not that I want to live my life in a bubble, free from any bad news. It’s that there’s a limit to how much time you can spend staring into the abyss every day when you’ve got stuff to do. If you’re not careful on social media, the abyss follows you around all day demanding you stare into it again and again and again.