Once upon a time, you actually had to pay attention to your friends on Twitter. Every single person you followed would appear in your timeline, nattering on about their brunches, their marathons, and that plot twist on Game of Thrones you were trying not to have spoiled. Twitter did its part to make your frustration worse, asking you to follow new people at every opportunity. The company suggests accounts for you to follow all over its interface; the more you obey, the more your timeline becomes a useless blur. No wonder that writers occasionally brag about unfollowing everyone on Twitter — only to inevitably fill up their timeline once again with cruft.
But rejoice — help is on its way. Twitter is rolling out a mute button across its service that will let you liberate yourself from the blabbermouths while still preserving your more delicate relationships. Hardcore Twitter users have long used the (superior) mute functions in alternative clients like Tweetdeck, Tweetbot, and Echofon — and if you’re curious why they seem to like Twitter so much more than you do, mute is a big reason why. Should the appeal of enforced silence still elude you, here are some things you can do when muting finally arrives inside your Twitter app.
what are you guys gonna watch on TV tonight— dan (@dcseifert) May 8, 2014
Ignore the people you have to follow for social reasons. Your friend who posts nothing but Foursquare check-ins and runs. A boss who’s attending a weeklong conference about the future of agribusiness. Your co-worker who does Weird Twitter. You can’t unfollow them because they’ll find out — and they’ll resent you for it. But you can send them to permanent oblivion. Mute.
17/ Which reminds me of a story involving Clinkle, late-stage financing, and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Basically what happened is— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) May 12, 2014
Avoid the Twitter School of Business. The most dreaded number on Twitter lately is "1" — because that’s how many tweets from venture capitalists and other business types now begin. It’s a signal that the person you’ve followed is about to take you to school against your will, and explicate some arcane point of market capitalism over a series of a dozen or more tweets. Popularized by Marc Andreessen, these so-called "tweetstorms" are usually little more than an ugly distraction from the punchy, 140-character updates on which Twitter made its name. You like what they have to say — you just wish they’d stop taking over your entire timeline. Today is the day that we say no to the tweetstorm. You see that number 1, you hit ’em with a mute.
are you a belieber— T.C. (@LaughingStoic) May 12, 2014
Give people a time-out. As in real life, people on Twitter have good days and bad days. Mute is for the bad days — when your pals are tweeting at high volume, about inane topics, using jokes you don’t understand. It’s for the days when they’ve decided to live-tweet the most boring thing imaginable. It’s for the days when you’re tired of seeing their face. Enjoy your mute, friend — you’ve earned it.
Banish sportsball. Every Saturday and Sunday, and on many weekday evenings, Twitter goes into sports mode, a whirling dervish of "Go team!" and "C’mon, ref!" and "I have opinions about hockey!" Chances are there’s at least one sport you hate — and as soon as someone you follow starts to share their insights about how to get the Cleveland offense back on track, you can show them just how much you care. With a mute.
Join #TeamFollowBack. The mute button can also help you take your account to the dark side: there’s nothing to juice the ol’ follower count like following back every rando and bot who comes your way. Before now, following thousands of people would mean turning your Timeline into a grotesque wasteland. But now you can "follow" accounts all day long without ever reading a single tweet. Happy to follow you back, friend — but if you want my attention, you’re gonna want to DM.
Tweet like an asshole. You want to tweet 50 times a day? Talk to yourself? Live-tweet a cricket match? Retweet brands? Knock yourself out, friend. You’ve been muted now. And we’ve never enjoyed following you so much.