Unfortunately, I wasn't taken unawares by the sentiments revealed by Brexit, by Trump, by the rise of the 'Alt-right'. The girl that would read shampoo ingredient labels on the loo because she forgot to bring reading material grew into a woman with an internet connection. I've seen corners of the internet far darker than the much reviled Breitbart. I hop from link to link, and surface hours later, usually deflated and anxious.
And so 2017 is my year of the filter bubble:
- News and opinion - I will check the headlines a couple of times a week. That is as much news as I can realistically use.
- Books - More books focused on issues I have a real interest in. This is a better way to stay informed and make educated decisions than chasing trends in a quagmire of daily news - and the rabbit holes will be gentle tumbles instead of freefalls, as I wait patiently for my inter-library loans.
- Blogs - I'm going to return to reading blogs daily. They used to be a source of inspiration and encouragement. A prune of my Feedly subscriptions, and they shall be again.
- Reddit - I have a curated subscription list of great subreddits - r/simpleliving, r/leanfire, r/anticonsumption and r/declutter come to mind. However the temptation is always to check the front page or wander into r/all - and the racism, misogyny, misandry and political mudslinging add nothing to my life. If I find myself wandering out of my favourite subreddits, then my Reddit account will go.
- Social Media - I deleted my Facebook app months ago, but still find myself checking in several times a day since I quit work. I will reduce this to once a day. No twittering for me. I've recently spent some time of Instagram; and I like it. I follow beautiful, inspiring stuff and it is easy to avoid the rest. Once a day use will be a good thing for me.
I've taken 'news diets' before, but this new regime is a lot more comprehensive. I haven't cut myself off from the world completely, but I am not immersed in a stream of information that my brain cannot use. It's no different to letting go of excess possessions, to rejecting unthinking urgency in favour of slow and considered. One week in and I'm feeling less despondent about things; my brain freed up to think about other things - like the life and world I would like to work towards, as opposed to the one I want to rail against. A filter bubble can be a beautiful thing, use it well.