For most of us, social media sites should, first and foremost, bring interesting and enjoyable information to our days; keeping up with breaking news and the day's news/issues discussions might come in second. But most of us don't log into Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram looking to be upset or saddened. But often, that's exactly what happens. For a variety of reasons, studies say that looking at social media can bum us out.
But now there's a new app (yup, it's free!) called Rather. It's only available for Chrome right now, but it will be available for other browsers in the near future. You can use it to block whatever it is you don't want to see on your newsfeeds; once you install it into the browser it blocks whatever you ask it to from any social media site you visit. You can chance the settings whenever you want, and you can also replace blocked content with stuff you like (I replaced 'babies' with 'cats' for example).
I also blocked "sports," as well as a bunch of specific sports team names (not a sports fan), mentions of meat (specifically steak, hamburgers, and bacon, since as a vegetarian, I don't appreciate meat food porn), Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus, mentions of religions (I'm an atheist) and yoga (which I enjoy doing, but don't like pictures of or reading about).
Rather is basically a spam filter you can use on your friends. But it's not perfect. When I blocked "babies" there was a significant reduction in the baby pix in my feed, but they weren't totally eliminated, since Rather looks at the text associated with the image, not the image itself; it would take up way too much bandwidth to look at images and determine their content.
But I've been mostly really pleased with how it works; now instead of a million comments about games from my sports-loving friends, I am more likely to see an interesting scientific study, think piece, linked music video, piece of art or short story. These are the things I want to see and the reason I find social media valuable—my friends often post amazing content that I might not otherwise see. And I don't want to miss my friend's in-depth blogpost about their music project for another baby snap. Now, instead of seeing what my friends are interested in, I'm seeing what I'm interested in.
It's really interesting to see what the most popular blocked topics are: Currently they include everything from Sochi to Buzzfeed, George Zimmerman to Ellen Page, from Jesus to zombies.
What would you block?
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