Note: This post started as a comment that I made on a friend’s Facebook post, where they were lamenting the content of their Facebook News Feed and considering closing their Facebook account. I thought it might be beneficial to expand and clarify in this post.
I’m going to go ahead and say something here that may not be popular: It is either naive or incredibly entitled to think that other people’s social media posts, whether from family or friends, should always meet your approval or be something you like or enjoy.
Think of the Facebook News Feed, or the Twitter feed, or whatever social media platform you’re on as somewhat like being at a large party, except you can hear all of the conversations at once. It’s information overload!
Some conversations you immediately want to mute — you don’t want to hear what they’re arguing about, especially at that volume!
Some conversations you quietly move away from — it’s just not something that interests you.
Some conversations you move toward — you like the people, and you like what they’re talking about. They’re reminiscing, sharing funny stories. They’re providing family updates, showing pictures and videos of their kids and grandkids. They’re sharing a verse or an anecdote that they found to be encouraging.
Social media is a lot like this party. You don’t really have the authority — as much as you might want it — to go around telling people to be quiet or to stop talking because it’s something you don’t like. But you do have the ability to find a quieter corner, to move away from the conversations and volumes that bother you, and find a discussion that’s more to your liking.
Let’s look at some options for managing your sanity, specifically on Facebook.
News Feed Controls
From the main News Feed at facebook.com, whenever you see a post, you should see three dots in the upper right corner of the post.
If it helps, you can think of these dots as a horizontal traffic signal. 🚥 Here, you can identify if this post should stop, proceed with caution, or go. 😊
On a post, select those dots, and check out the options that are available to you:
- Save link. You may not use this option very much, but it’s a nice feature to have. When you see something that you really want to remember or save for later — I’m looking at you, food recipes — this gives you a simple way to keep track of the post. Once you select this option, Facebook saves the link to the post for you, which you can find in the left navigation column under Explore > Saved.
- Hide post. When managing your social media sanity, this is a great tool. Select this option, and that particular post won’t show in your News Feed anymore. You can always go to that person’s Profile and see the post, but it won’t keep appearing in your News Feed. Note: If the post is an advertisement, this option appears as Hide ad.
- Hide [person] for 30 days. Maybe this person has really been on a political posting kick for a few days, and you’re tired of it. You want to stay friends, but you don’t want to see anything else from them until the midterm elections are over. This is a great option to give you some space for a month. After 30 days, their posts will start appearing in your News Feed again (and you can always snooze them again). Also, if this person has shared a post from another profile or page, you can select Snooze [page] for 30 days, or Hide all from [page]. I’ve used this option frequently when someone is sharing content from a page whose political views I don’t agree with, or a page that’s obviously spouting conspiracy theories or false information.
- Unfollow [person]. OK, you’ve reached an initial breaking point — you want to remain friends on Facebook, but you just don’t want to see what they post anymore. This easily lets you do just that. You’ll still be connected on Facebook, but none of their posts will show up in your News Feed. If you want to see what’s going on in their life, you can always go to their Profile and see what they’ve posted lately. I’ve used this option a lot.
- Give feedback on this post. I’d caution you against using this option, except in dire circumstances. If you select this option, Facebook will ask you to identify what’s wrong with the post — if it’s offensive in some way, etc. Once you take this step, I can pretty much guarantee that your friend will be in what we call “Facebook jail” for a period of time — unable to post anything, unable to comment, and perhaps even unable to log into their account.
- Turn off notifications for this post. If you’ve commented on a post, this will now appear as an option for you in the drop-down list. This can be nice for those posts when someone has something special going on (“We’re having a baby!” or “I got promoted!” or “It’s my birthday!”) and you’ve commented, “Congratulations!”, but now you don’t want to be notified every time the other 50 people add their message of congratulations. Or a post started out as a mild discussion and took a left turn into a knock-down, drag-out argument. Just turn off the notifications. You’re walking away and not hearing the conversation anymore.
This is a powerful feature of Facebook that I kind of wish I had in real life. If you go to someone’s individual profile, you’ll see the Following button on their cover photo, with a drop-down arrow. Here are your options:
- See First. This one might be a rarity, but you like this person so much, and you like their posts so much that you want to see their posts first when you look at your Facebook News Feed. That’s exactly what this option gives you. 🤷♂️
- Default. This is the default setting for your Facebook connections, and it lets Facebook’s algorithm determine how and when this person’s posts show up in your News Feed.
- Unfollow [person]. This is exactly the same as the Unfollow [person] I mentioned above from the News Feed. You’ll still remain friends on Facebook, so you could come to their Profile and check out what’s going on if you want, but you won’t see their posts in your News Feed anymore. (Unless you come back and change the setting here to Default or See First.)
This is a “second-to-last step” on Facebook that may seem pretty decisive, but sometimes it’s necessary. Not everyone likes this option, and not everyone will understand if you use this option, so use it wisely.
From my personal perspective, Facebook is not “real life.” It’s a nice tool for keeping in touch, but sometimes my real relationship with this person is more important than my Facebook connection. Or, sometimes my personal sanity is more important than staying “connected” to someone that I haven’t seen in a long time, likely won’t ever see again in person, etc.
From their individual Profile, find the Friends button on their cover photo, select the drop-down arrow, and from the bottom of the list, select Unfriend. That’s it! You’re now disconnected from them.
Yes, there are some other options in that drop-down list, but since they have more to do with getting even more connected with this person, and this post is about managing your sanity by maintaining your space, I’ll save those features for another day.
This is the ultimate, final, “scorched earth” 🔥 step on Facebook — blocking someone. 🚫 As Facebook says, “once you block someone, that person can no longer see things you post on your timeline, tag you, invite you to events or groups, start a conversation with you, or add you as a friend.”
Basically, unless they go to the trouble of creating a new profile — which is a whole new problem for another discussion — you’ll be invisible to them on Facebook.
To block someone on Facebook, you’ll need to take a few steps:
- From the upper right corner (desktop view), select the drop-down arrow on the far right.
- Select Settings from the drop-down list (second from the bottom).
- From the left-hand navigation menu, select Blocking.
- The second option that will appear in the main window is to Block users. You’ll need to enter the person’s name or email address, and then select the Block button.
You’ll notice that this page gives you even more blocking options — the ability to block messages from someone, the ability to block app invites, etc. Feel free to browse through and put this page to good use for your preferences.
A word to the wise: Many people take social media relationships seriously. If you make some kind of change to that relationship, they may notice, and it may cause an issue. Some people will stew quietly over this change, viewing it as a personal slight against them. Some people will flat out confront you. Be prepared to have a polite conversation about what change you made, why you made it, and what changes may be necessary for things to go back to “the way they were.”
Maybe you can work things out. Maybe you can’t. But remember, as I said above, that the real relationship is always more important than the social media connection. Focus and work on the real relationship.
And be kind.