Welp, it’s that time again: That time when 90 percent of the Internet seems to get swept up in some all-consuming cultural mania, leaving the other 10 percent to stew in their annoyance and count down ‘till its end.
This week it’s the World Cup, which begins today in Brazil. But these tips apply equally to just about any pop culture phenomenon you’d rather not read 1,000 posts about: The Oscars, the Bachelorette finale, that expensive industry conference all your Twitter friends are at — whatever it is, it can (mostly) be hidden. Leaving you, countercultural reader, to enjoy the silence, and ignorance, in bliss.
Sound pleasant? Here’s what you have to do to block entire events from your social streams.
1. First things first: Make sure you’re looking at “top posts,” not “most recent posts.” (The latter is far more likely to contain play-by-play updates from the Brazil/Croatia game.) Top posts is the default setting on Facebook, but you can double-check to make sure you’re still using it by clicking the arrow next to “News feed” in the left navigation bar. Then just click “top posts.”
2. Unfollow your chattiest friends. You know the ones I’m talking about: They’re probably already changed their profile pic to the flag of their favorite team. This option hides that person’s updates from your news feed, but you will still be friends with them and they will have no way to know you hid them. You can go to their profiles directly and click the “following” button on the Facebook banner, or — from your personal news feed — you can click the arrow in the upper right corner of their post and select unfollow. This also works on posts by pages and groups.
3. Try a friend list. Facebook automatically divides your friends into lists, based on things like where they’re from or where they went to school. By clicking a list under the “Friends” heading in the left navigation bar, you can view only posts by those friends in your newsfeed. That might not be super-helpful for the World Cup, with its universal appeal, but if I’m, say, overwhelmed by selfies from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, switching to my non-D.C. friends list is a good way to dampen the noise.
1. Consider upgrading from Twitter.com. If you don’t use one already, Twitter clients like Tweetdeck are the thoroughest (and easiest!) way to hide entire subjects from your timeline. After you’ve downloaded Tweetdeck and given it permission to access your account — a free process that takes approximately two minutes — click the little parallel bar icon that appears in the upper right corner of each column. From there, you can filter the results in that column pretty much any way you want: show only tweets with pictures, show only tweets from verified users, show only original tweets (no RTs allowed). For our purposes, the “excluding” field is most relevant. Blocking terms like World Cup, soccer, #WorldCup2014, and any of the popular team hashtags — complete list here — should do the trick.
2. Bust out the lists. Twitter doesn’t auto-populate lists for you the way Facebook does. But if you have a few minutes, making some is really worth the effort: They’ll help you keep tabs on different groups of users and maximize your Twitter experience. (Twitter maintains a step-by-step guide to making lists here.) Once you have those lists, tuning out annoying topics is as simple as switching from Twitter.com, where you’ll see every tweet, to your D.C. list, for instance — where you’ll only see updates from people in D.C.
3. Hit the “mute” button. Much like Facebook’s “unfollow” feature, Twitter’s new-ish mute function will let you hide a user’s tweets from your stream, without actually unfollowing them or notifying them that they’ve been hushed. To mute a user from Twitter.com, click the “More” button in the bottom right of their tweet and hit “mute @username.” (No offense Post Sports!)
Tumblr, the popular blog platform, doesn’t make it easy to hide posts from bloggers you subscribe to. So if you want to hide offending posts without straight-up unsubscribing, you’ll have to download a browser extension like Tumblr Savior, which works in Chrome and Firefox. Tumblr Savior lets you make a “black list” of tags, which it will block — say, all posts tagged World Cup or #Brazil2014. Notably, this won’t work on posts that haven’t been tagged, and it only works on your dashboard — it won’t work in search results. That makes it a somewhat less-than-failproof way to block content that’s, say, upsetting or triggering.
You may not be getting a ton of World Cup e-mails, but this is a useful tool for lots of other situations — like the entire month of December, when not a day goes by without some new holiday marketing message cluttering your inbox. From your inbox, click the little downward-facing arrow at the right of your search pane, which will bring up more search options, including a keyword and sender search. Fill them out any way you like, but then instead of clicking the search icon, click “Create filter with this search.” From there, you can automatically mark the e-mail as read, delete it, or stamp it with a label, among other options.
If that strikes you as too complicated — or if you’re more concerned about those marketing e-mails than anything else — try Unroll.me, a handy way to manage subscriptions, in Gmail or anywhere else.