How long does it take to make up your mind about a presidential candidate? For me, it’s about a week of focused effort. That’s it. Yet I must endure almost two years of campaigning in the United States, with little of substance being said, and the noise being endlessly amplified by news sites and social media channels. It’s an utterly bizarre and wa$teful system. It’s not like we need multi-day journeys on steam locomotives just to hear a candidate speak, or depend upon the morning newspaper and evening news to be drip-fed candidates’ positions on the issues. No, on this, the week we celebrated Uncle Sam’s 240th birthday, we have instant access to everything needed to already make an informed decision. That’s why I’ve taken matters into my own hands to shut down the campaign coverage early — four months ahead of election day.
My technique is tried and tested having helped me survive spoiler-free for three weeks — an eternity on the internet! — after the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So really, my election filter is a tweaked version of what I proposed then.
Twitter’s the first place to start for obvious reasons. To reduce the noise I now only read tweets through the lens of Tweetbot and its miraculous mute capabilities. Here’s a look at some of the keywords I filter on my iPhone and Mac:
TweetDeck also does a reasonably good job of filtering tweets (under Preferences —> Mute) and it’s free and cross platform. Weirdly, the Twitter.com web client and apps lack any keyword or hashtag filtering at all.
For web browsing I’ve repurposed the Chrome extension Unspoiler for my election filter. That way I can visit my favorite sites and even view Twitter on the web without being subjected to raging Idiocracy. I also find mislabeled "spoiler" warnings humorous at times when it obscures keyword matches for "tiny hands" (spoiler: tiny gloves), and "Make America great again" (spoiler: it’s already better than the days of genocide, slavery, dust bowls, and detention camps). And just look at all this hot garbage I don’t have to read on Facebook from friends and family both complaining about, and praising Donald Trump:
And here's a before and after for Fox News:
With this system in place, the feeling of relief is palpable. It’s a holiday from the hyperbole, a respite from the riposte. And I can easily disable it any time.
It’s not possible to filter 100 percent of the Trump v. Hillary nonsense from my life, nor would I want that. Sometimes it’s genuinely entertaining. If there’s a major turn of events between now and election day then I’ll certainly hear about it from friends or colleagues, or via the news sites I choose to whitelist. But I’ve suffered through enough discussion of yellow stars, pantsuits, and wigs for one election cycle. My mind’s already made up, not unlike many of you I’d wager. So, go ahead and try it yourselves patriots. See what it feels like to be free from the tyranny of banality.
Bonus: Also works for "Brexit."
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