For Each & All, A Chrome Disguise

Facebook, in theory, gives me the option to filter content.

That content filter is woefully inadequate, though. I can block individual users. I can block certain applications. I can block event invitations but that's not what I'm interested in avoiding. The people I don't want to hear from, I can just delete. The apps and invites that don't interest me are just so much spam, skimmed passed and ignored like any other junk mail.

What I need is an option to filter out the things that I would avoid in casual conversation. All the things that I wouldn't talk to you about in person, I also need not see those things in my Facebook feed. I'm not saying that you shouldn't post them, but, as when mingling at a party, there are topics that I should be able to duck, even from people I know and care for. It might be something that offends me, something I've heard too many times, something I know to be a fish story or, most commonly, something I simply don't give a shit about.

I do not care what you are cooking for dinner and I don't want to see pictures of it nor be told how hard it is to cut under-ripe avocados or somesuch.

I do not need an hourly update about the banalities of your life, where you're shopping, what movie you're about to see, why you were late to work, how loud your neighbors are, how disappointed you were with the mid-season cliffhanger, or how tiring the drive back from Albuquerque was.

Unless it is a semi-pro class or better event in which you are personally participating, I don't want to hear about sports, not ever.

I do not care about your pets.

Unless you are suggesting a legitimate solution to a national problem and have already detailed that solution in a concise and penetrating letter to your Senator, I do not want to hear your political opinions.

And, I absolutely, positively, under no circumstances want to hear banal observations about, nor see pictures of your children. Neither you, nor your kids are special enough to interest me. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be a proud and conscientious parent, but I am saying that lower primates routinely raise their offspring to adulthood without fanfare. You cannot expect me to applaud you accomplishing monkeys can do.

With all of that ranted, I want to be clear, I'm not saying that you shouldn't post such things. We live in a nation that protects our freedom of expression. We should be glad of that and express ourselves loudly and proudly. What I am saying is that, like in the real world, I should have the option not to listen. Of course, you're saying, "Tom, you aren't obligated to read any of these things. You can just ignore it!" In principle, you're correct, except that I am now at an age where such things make up a majority of the posts that make it into my Newsfeed. And, because the algorithm that FB uses to determine what is in the Newsfeed is basically voodoo, I have no real idea as to what I'm missing because a friend of a friend posted twenty consecutive puppy rescue links.

Put another way, I'm worried that things I do legitimately want to hear, serious insights, original witticisms, pictures devoid of snark, tales of old friends in crisis overcoming adversity and an honest update on the state of the lives of others, are getting crowded out by banality.

Zuckerberg, I'm looking at you.

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