Life is actually a very short finite thing. Each day there are only so many waking hours of which one can only pour in so much energy. Do you decide to pour it all into useful work, spending time with family, spending time doing nothing but watching television or playing games, or whatever. The bottom line is that we have to decide how we want to expend that in a way that will make us as contented as we can be. We will miss the mark obviously but that doesn’t mean that one has to engage in behaviors that they know are moving opposite that direction.
When I first got onto Diaspora I was pretty shocked at how much more extremist stuff there was on here versus my experience on Facebook. It made sense though. Facebook was chocked full of people I knew in real life. I don’t interact with extremists in real life. Twitter while full of people that I mostly didn’t know was curated out of countless millions of accounts and quickly their algorithms were tailoring my feed to the things I posted about or my friends posted about, which was mostly software things and food things. On Diaspora there is no curation and the volume of people was pretty low. It was only inevitable then that I started seeing blatantly homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic, and conspiracy theory laden stuff. At first I tried to ignore it but it was probably a third of my feed. While I may be able to ignore one or two a week I couldn’t “just ignore” a daily dose of it. I am the type of person that feels like he has to respond to it as well. Initially I did it occasionally but even that dragged me down dramatically. I therefore started blocking. It’s not as effective as a Facebook block but a Diaspora “Ignore” really helped cut down on the traffic.
As I’ve found over time however these accounts eventually get shut down on their servers and like a hydra a new head pops up spouting the same garbage which then shows up on my feed. I usually just block but this time it popped up the day of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which came after a week of right wing extremist violence which continued to be stoked on by our President at rally after rally and on Twitter. I couldn’t just let the hyrda spout it’s shit so I commented on it and then went about my day to find not only it but others spouting off with the same garbage and then trying to shame me into blocking/ignoring people. Normally I would just ignore that additional noise, perhaps blocking the extremist sympathizers too, but as someone who is trying to become a major open source developer on the Diaspora project I initially started thinking that maybe I don’t have the luxury of being able to do that any longer. After some reflection I came to the conclusion that that is hogwash.
No one has the right to my time or energy. No one has the right to pollute my timeline with garbage posts whether it is extremist political rhetoric or anything else. I alone get to curate what my social media experience is by actively selecting my associations and actively ignoring those I find intolerable. If I wanted my entire stream to be nothing but cat pictures then so be it. If these people want to spout that crap then that’s on them too along with consequences of those actions. I would be horrified if this place turned into the 4chan or Gab of the Fediverse but I’m not seeing that happening, which apparently is what the extremists are finding so unnerving.
So here I am putting my thoughts down on this topic. I will continue to ignore/block people who post extremist stuff here or anywhere else. I will continue to ignore/block people who support people who do that even if they aren’t doing it themselves. I will continue to ignore/block people for whatever reason I want, actually. However my curation is not about creating a bubble of group think it’s about decluttering my feed from behaviors that are noxious to me. I actually like having a pretty big variety of reasonable discussion around contentious topics. That doesn’t mean I’m required to engage with anyone and everything on the social network.