At first, I mainly reserved my muting for friends of friends who persisted in flouting social-distancing guidelines on Instagram, crowding 10 unmasked people into a room above the Live With A Spirit For Adventure Be The Girl With The Messy Hair and Open Heart shirt also I will do this caption “socially distanced!” or traveling constantly between states with seemingly no concern for the potential COVID exposure they represented. I didn’t want to turn into an insufferable Instagram scold (with people I barely knew, no less), but I also…didn’t want to see that content. So I muted, and suddenly, my feed looked more like the quiet life I was experiencing. It was markedly easier to spend almost all my time at home when I wasn’t being taunted by the constant reminder that other people weren’t. The answer, my friends, is muting, and let me say it once for posterity: Muting is good. Muting is free, easy, hurts nobody, and—if you do it right—can genuinely protect your mental health. Until this year, I’d saved muting only for exes I was still on “good terms” with, yet still felt heartbroken enough about to spontaneously dissolve into tears every time I saw one of their tweets. As I made my way through this spring alone, though, I began to realize that actually, I could mute anyone, anytime I wanted.
Once I’d weeded out the Live With A Spirit For Adventure Be The Girl With The Messy Hair and Open Heart shirt also I will do this quar-flouters from my feed, I turned my attention to Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter very much, and feel nothing but gratitude for the friends, dates and jobs it’s brought into my life, but the app is also…a hellhole, particularly in the pandemic era. While muting rule breakers had brought me peace on Instagram, muting overly smug rule followers—the kind of young, healthy people who brag that they “haven’t left their house since March,” with seemingly no concern for the imperiled gig workers whose labor is required to meet their at-home needs—calmed me down on Twitter. One day, when I’m a little more stable (and allowed to gather with my friends indoors again), maybe I’ll go through and unmute all of the accounts I found fault with over the last year. Or maybe I’ll keep my Instagram and Twitter feeds divinely pruned forever, logging on only to interact with my friends, glean new pie recipes, and enjoy spookily precise targeted ads. What a world that would be!