Are you sick of reading status updates from people who think Hillary Clinton is the Antichrist? Do you want to throw up when your pals sing Donald Trump's praises? Fortunately, there are ways to silence our friends when their Facebook political mudslinging gets to be too much.
I avoid talking politics on Facebook. I agree with Robert A. Heinlein. He wrote, "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig." In other words, you're not going to convince your pro-Trump friends and Bernie Bro buddies that Hillary is a good, rational presidential choice -- nor, your "I'm with her" colleagues that you'd rather be with him.
On the other hand, I do post my two cents on specific issues or events. For example, think your vote doesn't matter? You are so, so wrong. Look at the numbers.
That said, I'm tired of friends who just can't stop sharing how awful their anti-candidate is -- multiple times a day. I get it. But I don't need to hear it multiple times a day, and I sure don't want to hear it about half-a-dozen times a day for the next several months.
So, what can you do if you're sick and tired of political rage in your Facebook feed? A lot of things, though the appropriate options depend on how far you're willing to go.
First steps: Unfollow
Unfriending Dad isn't that smart of a move if you want long-term family happiness. Or, maybe your high-school buddy Joe is a great guy except when he's been drinking too much of the Libertarian Kool-Aid and starts talking about how Gary Johnson is the only one who can save the country. Then what?
If your friend is always posting stories from a specific Facebook page you can't stand (such as RedState, Occupy Democrats, or Guns & Patriots), you can eliminate the display of their stories. To do this, go to a post from the offending page, and then look at the top right. You'll see a downward-facing arrow. Choose to "Hide All from [the page you love to hate]" and, ta-da -- stories from that site are gone for good, even when they're shared by cousin Martin.
If you still care about people, except for their habits of constantly posting the latest political memes, you can simply unfollow them. You'll still be friends, but you won't see their posts in your regular timeline. To do this, go to any of your friends' posts, then click on the downward-facing arrow, and choose Unfollow.
Want to know what they're up to? After you've unfollowed someone, you can still visit his or her Facebook wall for the latest news.
Keeping political fights off your posts
Let's say not all your friends agree with your opinions. Shocking, I know, but it happens.
To keep your politics from making Auntie Mame spew venom all over your posts, you can make your political posts visible to only some of your friends. That won't keep you from seeing what a friend has to say, but it will keep, let's say your Libertarian friend, from being reminded you're a die hard Jill Stein (the Green Party's presumptive nominee) fan.
So, how does that stop him or her from raging at you in the comments? It works by making sure your easily-angered friends can only see your public posts. You do this by placing your irritable friends on a Restricted list. Once on this list, they can still spot your public posts, or any post you tag them on, but not your friends-only posts.
To make this happen, go to their profile pages, and then click on the "Friends" drop-down box that appears at the bottom-right of their cover photos. Once there, select the "Add to another list" option. The last choice on the resulting drop-down list will be "Restricted". Put them on it, and they'll never see your friends-only political views (nor other friends-only posts) again. Your friends aren't told about this and may never realize they're now "restricted" friends.
If your feelings are extreme -- or, let's say passionate -- you may not want anything to do with people who like Trump, Clinton, or the presidential candidate you hate the most. To find out which Facebook friends are supporters of people you can't stand, simply enter "My friends who like Donald J. Trump" (or whomever) in the Facebook homepage's search bar.
Or, let's say, they've annoyed the heck out of you for the last time. Then, if you never want to hear from those people again, you can unfriend them. To do this, take the following steps:
- Go to his or her profile.
- Hover over the Friends button at the top of the profile.
- Select "Unfriend".
Go away: Forever
Or, in worst-case scenarios like when people just won't stop bugging you even after they've unfriended you, Facebook enables you to block them. Once you've done so, the individuals can't see anything you post, even if it's public. In addition, a blocked person can't tag you in posts or photos, invite you to events, start a conversation, add you as a friend, etc.
To block someone, click on the Facebook Privacy Shortcut icon, which looks like a lock, on the upper right of your Facebook page, and then take the following steps:
1. Click "How do I stop someone from bothering me?"
2. Enter the name or email address of the person you want to block and click "Block".
3. If you entered a name, select the specific person you want to block from the list that appears.
Can't find them? Go to their profile pages and select "Block" from the menu on their cover photos.
Are you worried they'll have a fit when they find out? People aren't notified when you block them. But if they try to visit your profile page, they'll eventually figure it out when they can't get to it.
Social Fixer: A handy Facebook add-on
What's that? You don't want to see one more lousy word from anyone about the Republicans, Democrats, Brexit, whatever? Facebook can't help you there, but the browser extension Social Fixer can.
For almost two years this program was in hibernation, but a new release is finally out. Once more you can filter out political posts on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. There are no plans for an Internet Explorer (IE) version, but the programmer is working on an edition for the Microsoft Edge browser.
It works by customizing your view of your Facebook friends' posts. It uses regular expressions (regex) to block any posts you find annoying. You don't need to be a Linux shell programmer and be able to create regex scripts to use it. The extension comes with ready-to-run filters.
So, for example, the Election/Politics 2016 filter automatically screens out any posts with the names of any of the political parties or presidential candidates. Social Fixer also has many other useful filters. For example, you can block all sponsored, "Shared Memories," or "People You May Know" posts. The extension also lets you design your own filters or modify existing ones. The extension includes many other features, but its filtering tools are why most of you will want to give it a try.
I actually like reading political posts, but there are times I'd rather lower my blood pressure. For days like these, these tips will help keep you calmed down.