Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Curse of Current Events

Even I am subject to letting my feeling be known when it comes to politics and current events in the news. As are many, I am deeply troubled by the course things have taken since the election of Mr. Trump to our land’s highest office—and I have made mention of it at least once in my TLG Tweets. But I think…only once.

Which is precisely the reason I maintain multiple accounts; most of my gripes and tirades are on my personal account, which is where I focus on other interests like book publishing, advertising, marketing and urban development in the town where I live. Political and personal tweets, as they are, seem to fit in much better there; I don’t feel right subjecting my TLG audience and followers to my political views, even though I expect that, for the most part, their views may be largely sympathetic to my own.

This is especially the case since many of my followers and readers are in the UK. I’m sure many of them are already aware of the issues here in the US, and they have their own to deal with—namely Brexit. In the same way as Trump, that issue has “infested” many of the UK accounts I follow. This is really not surprising, since the subjects are inexorably linked.

The resulting situation has artists, designers, researchers, craftsman, historians, hobbyists and others—people who normally refrain from “dabbling” in daily politics—tweeting up a storm on current political events and policy. For some, it is only a mention here and there. For others, these issues now dominate their daily tweets rather than their usual subjects of interest, and it has now come to the point where they seem unable to focus on anything else.

Being patient, I would not think to block or mute anyone over such a matter; I follow people with some consideration, and I suspect things will return to normal soon enough (or at least closer to normal, after their initial outrage fades).

The biggest problem has become my daily Paper.li newspaper, The ArchRevivalist Daily. Again, I have always tried to select my news “sources” with a great deal of care—accounts that tweet useful and relevant information regarding heritage issues, traditional architecture & design, preservation, etc.—so the newspaper will offer breadth and usefulness.

Lately, however, I have seen a number of ARD issues where the featured story and image is something to do with politics—namely Trump. This is really not what I intended at all, and these stories detract from the primary subject of the newspaper. I recall one issue in particular where one of my usually-relevant sources had perhaps four or five “Trump” tweets or re-tweeted stories posted in one day’s edition. I suppose an improved algorithm on Paper.li’s part could alleviate this to some degree; I'm too busy to do daily content edits and instead rely on their AI to select which stories to “feature.”

As a result, I have been forced to (at least temporarily) take the approach of removing some Twitter accounts from my newspaper source list, at least until they return to tweeting relevant information. I still follow them, of course—I only removed them from the newspaper source list until that times comes again.

I imagine this issue will pass soon enough, but it does pose a significant question to many of us. How much is too much? No one would suggest that we refrain from observing, commenting and even expressing our outrage when it comes to politics and current events. But we must remember there is a time and place to do so, and that getting overwhelmed by such matters can take us off course, muddy our focus, and in the end--make us less happy.

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