Have you noticed how argumentative everyone is at the moment? I have no statistical data to back this up but it feels as if in the last few months I can’t say or write anything without someone getting annoyed at me.
This isn’t a pity post, I promise. I publish a shite load of content every week. 4 blog posts, podcasts, heaps of Facebook posts, Instagram posts, Instagram stories and that’s not even counting the client work and freelance stuff I do. Because of the sheer volume of work I publish, I’m bound to annoy at least 10 per cent of the people who consume my stuff and holy crap are they vocal about it.
The point is, these people are wasting so much of their time getting annoyed at me for stuff that really doesn’t matter. I had a guy go to town on my Facebook page recently when I asked everyone what their dream car would be. He systematically went through and told people he thought their dream cars were shit. I was out for dinner so I didn’t see it until I got back but it would have taken him a good half an hour to do this. I promptly deleted him but I was just gobsmacked at why anyone would do that. Was that time well spent, Richard? Was it? Answer: No you dingus. Get a freaking hobby.
My readers are obviously far more highly evolved than dear Dick but sometimes even the smartest of us do silly things. I’m guilty of it. I’m very fomo which means I hate missing out on things and it can take me a good 20 minutes on Facebook to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Also if I see someone being treated unfairly in the comments of a Facebook post, I’ll pretty much always go in to bat for them. This kind of stuff is okay but you really need to police yourself in those kinds of scenarios. It’s when you’re an hour into a crazy argument on the Sunrise Facebook page that you need step back, reassess and break those silly online habits that are plaguing you.
Here are three things you need to stop doing.
1. Saying yes all the time
You don’t need to say yes to every invitation or messenger request. It might feel like you’re offending people if you don’t, but most of the time no one even notices. And if they DO notice, send them the link to this blog post and I’ll tell them there are better things to do with their time than scroll through Facebook invite lists checking who’s accepted and who hasn’t.
Here are some ways you can stop saying yes.
Unsubscribe to emails you auto delete
I subscribe to a lot of emails. Shops, bloggers, brands, online influencers. Sometimes I subscribe because I like them and sometimes I subscribe because they had a cool free thing I wanted. Eventually, I end up not reading the emails from certain people and I end up just deleting them without even opening them. Once I’ve done this a few times, I go through my email list and unsubscribe. I find the best time to do this is after a long haul flight because your inbox will be chockablock full of emails you want to delete. Spend 20 minutes on unroll.me and clear out that inbox.
Unlike pages that no longer serve you
I’ve written before about how important it is support your friend’s businesses online by liking, sharing and commenting on their stuff but if your friend started a wedding cake business two years ago, took a break from it and hasn’t done much online since it’s totally okay to unlike their page. If you keep seeing updates from a page you’ve never heard of before, unlike it. Give your Facebook a big old clean out so you’re only seeing the stuff you really want to see.
Unfriend people who don’t add any positivity to your life
I’m pretty selective about the people I’m friends with on Facebook but the occasional weirdo manages to slip through every now and then. Friending people on Facebook is not a permanent action. You can unfriend people any time you like and I do it often. It doesn’t even mean I don’t like them it just means they spend more time on Facebook complaining about public transport than anything else and that’s not interesting or fulfilling for me so I click unfriend. Boom.
Unfollow people you love who trigger you
I do this often. My mates are really intelligent (which is why I have them as mates!) but this means that a lot of our time is spent arguing. I love a good online riff but I don’t have time to spend all day explaining why The Incredibles is really the most underrated Pixar film. I have a few people who are triggers for arguments and every now and then, I simply unfollow them. They don’t know I’ve done it and I get a peaceful feed that’s a pleasant place to be.
2. Mindless scrolling
I’m all for taking a break from work to have a scroll through Facebook but you’ve got to cap it. If you’ve been mindlessly clicking around from website to website, back away from the computer.
If you have a serious problem with this you can use apps to block your access to certain sites. Self Control for macs will block you out of selected websites for a pre-determined amount of time. Cold Turkey is another one I’ve heard is great. Hey Focus does a similar thing. Focusbooster is like a pomodoro technique app that gives you 25-minute windows to complete tasks which is great for people with short attention spans (like me!).
Mindless scrolling is literally dead time so make sure you keep a cap on how often you do it. I have a bad habit of coming home from the gym, flopping on the couch and scrolling for ten minutes before I have a shower. Sometimes this turns into half an hour and it’s such a waste of time it kills me. I’ve started turning my phone on airplane mode when I get home to remind myself to get in the damn shower and not waste my precious time scrolling. It works like a charm and I can use that half an hour later in the day to do something I really want to do.
3. Wading into the cesspool
The internet is like quicksand and you can go from reading a sensible opinion piece in The New York times to trolling the forums in Reddit trying to prove to conspiracy theorists that Obama did NOT orchestrate the Sandy Hook shooting in order to get guns banned in the US. I don’t argue on Facebook anymore. If someone directly asks me to clarify something, I’ll do that but you’ll rarely find me on someone else’s page having an argument. It’s just not worth it. Even for things I really care about like marriage equality, I’m not going to waste my time trying to convince John from Queensland to say he regrets voting no to marriage equality. It’s important to encourage people, in general, to say yes but old mate from Townsville is not going to be convinced to vote yes by a stranger on the internet.
I also tap out of arguments now. I used to really need the last word but once you’ve been arguing in circles there’s no where left to go but out the door.