Twitter is a microcosm, yet unlike real life, it comes with a mute, block and unfollow button. Three buttons which in all honesty I rarely touch anymore. I use the mute setting to silence TV show spoilers, I block creeps who DM me and I only tend to unfollow accounts which are gagging for attention.
I’ve debated this heavily with a number of people and it turns out there are some varying opinions on whether we should mute what we can mute. The internet is full of people with some very extreme opinions and when you’re feeling low, the last thing you want to see is something that’s going to upset you. You only have to set foot on Twitter to see a racist, transphobic or homophobic comment and that’s never good for anyone’s wellbeing. But equally, life is full of these people too, so are we allowing ourselves to pretend that these people don’t exist by muting them? I’m still not sure about this.
When I first started using Twitter properly for blogging, I would mute anyone that I thought warranted it: people who promote themselves a million times a day, people with poor grammar, accounts with varying political opinions to me. And as time went on, I noticed that other people were doing the same thing. When the Brexiters won the vote in 2016, I was shocked. How could so many people have voted for this when everyone I interact with believes the opposite? I was for want of a better word, bamboozled.
When you live most of your life on the internet, it’s really easy to just mute people who you don’t agree with. You can block the homophobes and the racists because obviously no one wants to see profanities all over their screen, and with a mute button right there in front of you, it seems ludicrous not to use it. But shortly after Trump won the presidential election, I realised that what I was really doing was muting out real life.
I was only seeing the people who I agreed with so I wanted to burst my twitter bubble and engage more to understand different viewpoints, even when they are poles apart from my own. So I unblocked and unmuted all the accounts I had previously hidden from view.
I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy. I’m a really sensitive person and seeing people tweet things that I’m so against has probably caused me more rage than is necessary, but it’s helped. It’s helped me to understand where people are coming from with their varying opinions, and to get a better understanding of a huge amount of disillusionment that I was previously unaware of.
Something else that I’ve become acutely aware of from my bubble bursting adventure is that just because someone has a viewpoint different to mine doesn’t mean that there is nothing that I agree with them on, or that they are always wrong. Yes, the source of an opinion is important but don’t just assume someone’s viewpoint is ridiculous before thinking about it yourself.
I know that for some people, muting and blocking is a great way of stopping upset and seeing triggering content, but right now, for me it’s been really helpful in quashing the idea that everyone around me shares my opinions, just because an algorithm shows me what I want to see.
Do you find blocking Twitter accounts useful, or do you prefer to see everything? Let me know in the comments!