Yesterday, after a somewhat stressful week, I decided that I was going to remove Donald Trump from Facebook. After getting back into the swing of things, it dawned on me that removing all news of the Donald, whether pro or con, would help regain some much needed balance in my life. With that in mind, I went ahead and downloaded a Google Chrome extension that would do just that.
But to remove Donald Trump from Facebook is not as simple as just getting rid of mentions of the man. As
But it turns out by trying to remove Donald Trump from Facebook, I threw my Facebook timeline all out of whack. No longer could I read posts from publications I enjoy, such as The New Yorker or The Atlantic. No longer could I get updates from some of my favorite Facebook friends. Eradicating news of Donald Trump was to eradicate my Facebook feed itself. Only the most mundane of videos, articles and updates were left for my consumption, with no mention of anything remotely intelligent in sight. It was as though by choosing to remove Donald Trump from Facebook, I was voluntary submitting myself to videos of people getting stuck in the ‘friendzone’ or getting repeatedly kicked in the balls.
I quickly learned this is exactly why Facebook does not allow itself to filter for keywords, at least not officially. Censoring any part of the news, whether harmless or deplorable, renders Facebook unusable, at least in its intended form. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe being on Facebook for more than an hour a day or so only lends yourself to hyper-partisan points of view. Or maybe partisanship is just built into the design of Facebook.
It seems that it is literally impossible to use Facebook in any engaging way without the politics and the arguing. It’s not just that its built into Facebook, but its built into the user experience we’ve come to expect from the platform. But by choosing to remove Donald Trump from Facebook, I chose to censor the news without even realizing it. Making yourself willfully ignorant is not always the best way to engage, especially if you choose to use a platform like Facebook that is centered around user engagement. Still, while it may not be possible to entirely remove Donald Trump from Facebook, you can stop giving him as much thought. At the end of the day, its voting that will change the political circumstances, no matter which way you lean, and making sure to vote and stay civically engaged is likely more important than paying attention to every foo-pah that comes out of his mouth.