At college, we hung out with a select group of people. We lunch everyday with a handful of colleagues. We are close to a selection of friends. We invite a small number of people to the dinner parties we host at home. In all these cases, we are purposeful about whom we choose to engage with.
We do so not to be exclusive or elite, but because our mental bandwidth and attention is limited. At a two-hour party with fifty invitees, we can, at most, have a meaningful conversation with about five of them. The knack of selecting those five people is second nature to us.
And yet, we follow thousands of people on Twitter or Facebook. We somehow assume (or those companies convince us) that our attention online is unlimited.
I propose a thought exercise here. Let us say you invite your Twitter timeline to dinner and give each of them a seat at the table. How many of those voices would you wish to listen to? With how many would you rather that they shut up?
Once you figure that out, use the “mute” button well. Or better yet, one that says “unfollow”.