Bernie Anderson
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Eliminate the Foolishness: Sanitize Your Social Media

An ancient Hebrew Proverb says "leave the presence of fools; for there you do not meet a word of knowledge." (Proverbs 14:7)

A good nugget of wisdom to ponder as we step into 2018.

There was an age when this applied mainly to the friends we keep (I mean analog friends with whom you might go have and actual beer with). In our new-age of social media, we have much greater opportunities to give fools and foolishness access to our lives, with potentially destructive consequences.

Look at your Facebook/Twitter/social media of choice feed right now. You have permission, as long as you come back here. Go. Look.

What was there?

Things good and wholesome, helpful and wise from close friends, family, and people/things you care about?

Or a lot of foolishness from people/things your barely know?

It's time to leave the presence of fools.

Leaving the presence of fools does not require us to leave all photographs of cats. I'm thinking more people. Maybe just some cats. 

This could be made simplistic. Leave and delete Facebook/Twitter/social media of choice. It's not that simplistic. I'm not naive enough to think that eliminating social media is the answer to the conundrum of fools in my life or yours.

Trust me. I've considered it.

I've been tempted to completely shut down my Facebook and Twitter accounts. However - I have wise people, true friends, people (and things) I love and care about all over the globe. The magic and beauty of social media is that I can virtually stay connected with them. I don't want them to disappear. Facebook can be a beautiful way to maintain connections which are important to me.

Eliminating the fools, would also eliminate the wise and good and important. I don't want to do that.

So, in order to do a better job of leaving the presence of fools, while staying connected to things important to me, there are ways to do some social media sanitization. The beginning of the year is a good time to get started.

Only follow the people you actually want to follow

Don't let social media algorithms make that decision for you. If your habit has been to allow the Facebook defaults to rule your experience - you're probably following way more people than you need. You don't have to follow everybody. Take the time to unfollow.

The same with businesses/organizations you like - like them. But only follow them if you actually want to see their stuff in your newsfeed. There're plenty of local businesses I want to "support" by "liking" them on Facebook - but I don't really want to see everything they post. Unfollow. It's that simple.

With friends - on Facebook, I only follow close friends and family. Everyone else does not show up. You make that choice for yourself. Even then, I still get some things in my newsfeed I don't care about. But it's eliminated a lot of foolishness.

Don't be friends everyone who asks.

I used to indiscriminately accept all friend requests. I mean, why not? Now I only accept requests from people I know and with whom I'm actually interested in staying connected to in a somewhat meaningful way. Indiscriminate connections leads to a lot of noise, and an inevitable connection with fools. Leave the presence of fools and choose your friends well.

Don't be afraid of unfollow, unfriend, or otherwise disconnect

This should be a rare occurrence, if you keep good social media habits on the front end. But in the initial "social sanitization," this may be something you have to do. The "unfollow" on Twitter is super easy and painless. Most people who act foolishly on Twitter will never know. It's trickier on Facebook. I use unfollow quite liberally. I also use the occasional "unfriend". It's done no harm, and has left me with more hygienic social media.

Oh - and one more important thing.

Turn off all notifications

Trust me. This will bring peace to your life and focus to your brain in ways you really don't expect. Just turn them all off. Now. You;ll find that you really aren't missing much.

Life is really too short to spend a lot of time staying connected to foolishness. Sanitizing social media takes about an hour or two of time (depending on how much foolishness you've allowed in) but has reaped some pretty great benefits in my world - both online and off.

Bernie Anderson