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Cut out the noise from the net!

Deafened by the cacophony of links, status updates, videos, messages on the Net? Just mute it. Cut down the number of people you follow on Twitter, wave goodbye to a few not-so-close pals on Facebook and stop clicking on every link that the rest of them share.

india Updated: May 28, 2011 20:13 IST
Pranav Dixit
Pranav Dixit
Hindustan Times

It’s quiet when you walk into your office, sit at your desk and switch on your computer. There’s a gentle whirr as it starts up. You fire up your browser. Suddenly, there’s a deafening noise – a cacophony of links, status updates, videos, photo albums, RSS feeds, emails and tweets tripping over themselves to get your attention. A bunch of instant messages bounce around at the bottom of the monitor. “Look at me!” they all seem to scream. At this point, you’ll either:

A) Resist the temptation, close everything and start working (you’re a rare breed)
B) Dive into the ocean of noise and bob around lazily till you realise that the deadline you’ve been working towards is closer than you thought it was.
If option B is how your typical morning begins, you’re not alone. The Facebook statistics page shows that people share over 90 billion pieces of content on the site every month. Twitter users collectively average about 750 tweets a second. Sifting through all that junk to find stuff that is relevant takes up time and energy. That’s the problem with the Web these days: there’s just too much… noise. Here’s how to muffle it.

FacebookTone it down

Dealing with all this noise isn’t exactly rocket science. Cut down the number of people you follow on Twitter, wave goodbye to a few not-so-close pals on Facebook and stop clicking on every link that the rest of them share."Little to none of the chatter on Twitter is relevant to me," says Aditya Joshi, an educational psychologist who is currently editing an online book on Web 2.0. "The only thing Twitter seems to foster is the cult of celebrity and celebrity doesn’t strike me as being awesome." For the last two years, Joshi has been taking cyclical periods where he takes a break and deactivates his Facebook account for a few months, "to get away from the randomness of it all," as he puts it. "And I delete people I don’t care about much and block friends who spam my Wall with updates," he adds.

Chinmay Damle, a 24-year-old Pune-based research scholar, hates celebs on social networks. "Every mention of celebs in a newspaper, every song of theirs on the radio has to get a Twitter mention. It’s irritating," he says.A different kind of pressure builds up because of all the online banter – you gotta know what the world is jabbering about, right? Don’t know what the latest hashtag on Twitter is? You’re such an ignoramus!"I feel guilty when there are unread items on my RSS feed reader," acknowledges Joshi. "Because feeds are something I subscribe to out of choice. That said, I’ve deleted feeds that seem interesting in the beginning but don’t live up to the promise."

Unfollow these celebs to avoid choking your Twitter timeline.

Mallika Sherawat: For retweeting the praise she gets from her ‘fans’.

Salman Khan: For atrocious spelling and pointless photographs (a fly on his chappal, for instance).

*An unofficial, unauthorised, highly opinionated choice cut out and paste this checklist on your computer monitor

Know what you’re looking for
: Go online with a purpose. Look for what you want and back off once you find it. Both your Twitter and Facebook streams come with an ‘older posts’ button – they’re endless!

Identify and group your sources
: Follow only two or three news accounts to keep up with breaking news. To manage your Twitter stream, group people in lists – celebs in one; news sources in another; friends in the third. Those who cannot find place in a list can be safely docked off.

TwitterUse the right tools
: Use a power app like Tweetdeck or Twhirl to know what’s happening across all your Facebook, Twitter and Google Buzz accounts at a glance. If you like subscribing to feeds, our favourite is Google Reader.

Eliminate the unnecessary
: Get off Google Buzz, Orkut, Myspace, Friendfeed and other unnecessary feeds. Also, knock ‘buddies’ you haven’t buzzed in years. And the next time something ‘revolutionary’ crops up, don’t be the first in line to sign up (we’re looking at you, Google Wave).

Stick to a time
: Two hours of social networking a day (or whatever rocks your boat) and no more. You’ll thank us for this.

- From HT Brunch, May 29

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First Published: May 27, 2011 16:52 IST