I was pleased to introduce a friend today to one of Twitter’s most useful tools — the mute-word function.
It’s pretty much what it sounds like. You type in a word, phrase or hashtag, and Twitter will block that word, phrase, or hashtag from your feed and make sure you don’t get notifications related to any tweet that contains it. You can set the block to last for a certain amount of time, or clang down the iron door forever.
In my experience, it does a very good job making stuff you don’t like disappear. So good, in fact, that I’ve accumulated a long list of muted words and phrases. Some are related to chronic irritants. Others are memory-joggers, reminding me of brief periods of time when people were just abusing the hell out of a word or phrase whose popularity has since receded.
I’m not going to reprint the full list here … but I thought it would say something about me if I lifted the veil partway and showed you some examples of stuff that, goddammit, I just flat-out do not want to hear about any more.
(Recognizing that not all my readers spend their lives online, I will add brief explanations where they seem useful.)
“Baby Yoda” — There was a period when the Star Wars fans on my feed — and they are legion on Twitter — were running at the mouth over the cuteness of this character from the SW spinoff “The Mandalorian” (I think that’s what it’s called.) I got sick of it. Yoda and #babyyoda are also on the block list.
“Star Wars” and #starwars— yeah, the whole franchise. There are lots of blockbuster-movie geeks on Twitter, but George Lucas’s baby really doesn’t mean anything special to me, and I’d prefer to avoid the endless chatter each time a new trailer is released or a new plot twist is hinted at.
“Real Housewives” — must I explain?
Chonky — also chonk. This cutesy variant on “chunky” caught on as a descriptor for fat housepets. It went from cute to trite quickly. (I don’t care much more about housepets than I do about Star Wars.)
“Kanye West” — also Kanye. I forget which of his peccadilloes landed him on the shit list but there he is. Oddly, while I have no great use for his wife either, “Kardashian” has never made it onto the mute list.
Hamilfilm — I respect “Hamilton” as a bold and successful piece of popular entertainment but I completely fail to see it as the life-affirming marvel of joy that some people seem to think it is. I believe I proactively put this on the block list before the film came out, just so I wouldn’t have to hear the knee-jerk liberals on my feed flutter anew about its brilliance. (Did I really just say that, and when did I turn so sour?)
“Tom Brady” — Living in New England isn’t all lobsters and ‘Gansett, and one of the pitfalls is the region’s fascination with its NFL team and its (now-former) star quarterback. Regular readers know the NFL is dead to me, which makes me even less interested in Tom Brady. I believe his name reached the mute list during a period when Brady was deciding whether to stay in New England or go elsewhere, and Twitter was full of uninformed speculation.
Art for art’s sake!
Bingo — I’ve mentioned before that there’s a particular social media trope that really gets on my nerves: “I didn’t have (dramatic summary of current news event) on my pandemic bingo card.” Let’s just say I filled in five squares in a row, and my reward is I don’t have to hear this any more.
Oscar, Oscars, Emmy, Emmys, Grammy, Grammys, goldenglobes — Hmmm. Somehow the Tonys have stayed on my good side…
Festivus — The joke got old. Somehow my sense is that this is more successful in sneaking onto my feed than a lot of the other terms listed here — I don’t feel like it’s being blocked that effectively. I guess I’ll have to air my grievance.
Feels — Like “chonky,” this cutesy abbreviation of “feelings” slipped into the language as part of the whole annoying adults-intentionally-writing-like-children thing. (“Baby Yoda gives me all the feels.”) I sit alone in my stone tower, sipping brandy, free from the slangy pop-culture outbursts of the crowd, listening to Morris Albert croon: “Feelings …. nothing more than fee-lings….”
“RT if” — Short for “retweet if,” this phrase is the core of a million irksome attempts to build community (“RT if you ever sucked on orange wedges at halftime of a youth soccer game.”) I’ll RT somebody else’s tweet if it meets my standards for humor, creativity, nostalgia, or (occasionally) visceral impact, but I’ll pretty much never retweet anything that specifically asks to be retweeted.
Thread — A thread is when somebody has a long string of thoughts on a topic (a lot of feels, one might say) and builds a string of linked tweets on the subject. I loathe threads because THAT’S WHAT BLOGS ARE FOR. Expressing a lengthy or complex chain of thoughts and emotions 280 characters at a time is just stupid, when you could go somewhere else and enumerate them at full length and just post a link to that. Twitter exists for dumb quick hot takes, not for airing out your soul.
Joker — Fans of the Batman films seem to think the Joker is a particularly iconic character (you know, I should really mute the word “iconic” one of these days) and love to discuss him and his portrayers, which is not a subject that holds any interest for me. As an old friend on Twitter has said in the past: “I’m a giant fan of all things Batman, but let’s stop pretending that playing the Joker is like playing King Lear or something.”
Stan — This term for obsessive pop-culture superfans has somehow become both a noun and a verb. Overheated pop culture obsession doesn’t draw me in — I tend to think such people should diversify their interests — so I am not interested in either scholarly study of stan culture, or tweets where people declare themselves stans of a person, place, or thing. I’m probably missing all kinds of wonderful content related to Stan Getz, Stan Mikita, Stan Musial, and Stan Kenton, but that’s just another weight that has to be carried.
(I have thought about blocking Karen, the interwebs’ new favorite slang term for affluent, racist, entitled white women, but a woman named Karen has a great Lehigh Valley history account whose content I enjoy. So I grit my teeth and deal with the bursts of self-righteous people dunking on people they’ve never met, just so I can see photos of trolleys rolling through Catasauqua.)