Conservatives are having a fun time complaining about social media and the Internet with the kind of ire they normally reserve for soccer. I don’t disagree with most of the criticism, but I also don’t find the issue nearly as pressing.
My career has relied on the Internet and news aggregation. Twitter is an invaluable resource. My Tweetdeck is open daily. Yet I don’t share nearly the same angst. It’s possible to use social media without going crazy. Here are some suggestions that work for me.
1. Consider Using Only One Social Medium
Do you find yourself actually enjoying one platform? Or, at the very least, does it leave you in a similar mood before and after you use it? Which one can you use judiciously without mindless scrolling? Stick with that one. Cut out the rest.
I deactivated Facebook because scrolling out of habit offered little to me. I never joined Instagram partly because I feared a similar experience. I don’t have that problem with Twitter, so I stuck with that one.
2. Limit the Number of Accounts You Follow
I’m able to stay abreast of my interests (mostly TV, tech, politics, and soccer) while following (as of this writing) 93 accounts. I really only follow 51 of those via a private list. I’ve found I rarely miss out on much.
The ones in that list have earned my trust. I know I’ll get “quality” material from them that will inform or amuse, not anger or exasperate. A smaller following also lessens the chances of mindless scrolling and outrage induction.
3. Don’t Hate-Follow
I understand the appeal of hate-watching bad movies or TV shows, though I rarely participate because it seems unhealthy. I do not understand why people hate-follow on social media, however.
Hate-watching is limited: perhaps an hour or two at a time watching mostly fictional material. Hate-following, be it your husband’s crazy sister on Facebook or Tomi Lahren on Twitter, only fosters ill-will towards people made in God’s image.
The likes of Peter Daou don’t offer much, judging by how often conservatives snark at him. So why follow him? To snicker at him like middle-schoolers at the lunch table? Isn’t that partly why Twitter feels like a wasteland? Reduce your feed to people you actually like or respect, even if you don’t agree with them.
4. Don’t Follow People Who Tweet Too Much
I unfollow (or de-list) aggressive tweeters. That includes too much self-promotion or retweeting of supporters, but it mostly involves those who regularly tweet about or retweet their “haters.” Twitter martyrdom adds little. Responding to genuine criticism is one thing, but retweeting the guy with 30 followers just to show “how the other side thinks” benefits no one.
5. Accept That You’re in a Liberal Bastion
Gnash your teeth all you want about how Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube treats conservatives, as if we’re suffering through some digital pogrom. It’s media. It has always leaned left while treating the other side unfairly.
But the Internet has also offered an unprecedented platform to the Right. We can still embrace the opportunity we have, or at least better recognize it for what it is. Perhaps a social media version of Fox News will emerge, giving conservatives a legitimate alternative (without smugly devolving into the very thing it railed against, I hope). Until then, we should keep using the tools we’re given. You don’t have to take the iBenedict Option.