Or X-ing out the trash on social media?
I have the distinction of having been one of the first thousand or so to line up and board that questionable online leaky vessel, Facebook. I joined in 2004. I'm also among the last thousand or so to hold my nose and join Twitter before it began morphing into something....else.
Long after I joined the Book of Faces and long before trying out my Tweets, I had been hearing what cesspools they are. What repositories for the absolute worst of human behavior. Certainly I’ve seen plenty of examples of that on both platforms.
Haven’t we all?
However, I've developed a sure-fire strategy to dodge the uglies. For one thing, it helps that neither platform has held any deep fascination for me. I seldom find myself scrolling, scrolling, scrolling unless I’m in bed with a cold. Nor do I find myself gawking in horror and delight at all those nasties that live on all social media platforms.
What's my secret? I learned early on which wolf to feed. The “wolves” I prefer on Facebook are four-legged and furry but have sinister, slitty eyes and tend to hunt dust bunnies. When I’m not actually reading or writing, I'm generally hanging out at any of a number of wonderful cat-oriented groups on Facebook.
The poor dumb algorithm sees me looking at cute cat videos and memes all the time, shrugs, and keeps shoving more of the same in front of my face. I’m A-ok with that (and now that I know there’s an Enchanted Cat Cafe in Reno I’ll have to check it out if I am ever out there again in late August on our way to You Know Where).
Then over at Twitter just as the screaming matches and four-letter putdowns were heating up around the election — doesn’t even matter which one, it’s always election tantrum time there — I made a divine discovery. Birds.
For the record, birders are nuts. They will crouch motionless in the brush for hours to get a glimpse of Nashville Warblers, Brown Creepers, and Yellow-Billed Cuckoos. And many of them own serious cameras so that my feed every day is filled still shots and videos of a dazzling array of birds.
It gets better: a lot of those birds are only two blocks from where I live. Yep, just about every bird known to fly on this side of the planet can be found at some point of the year in Central Park. Not only do we have a huge array of migrating birds as well as a nice selection of birds of prey, we've also got international superstar, Flaco, who has taken up permanent residence at my end of Central Park.
This doesn't mean I'm going out there and getting great shots of the famous escaped Eurasian Eagle Owl.
Two of my faves on Twitter - Ok, Ok, X - are Uptown Birds and Manhattan Bird Alert. I’ve even been known to get in on my own version of the action myself. See, I’m the type of birder who will crouch for hours on a comfortable chair by the window after putting seed out on the fire escape.
And then I go back online to write about my adventures. Adventures I then share with like-minded whack jobs in our bid to keep the algorithm moving the stuff we’re actually interested in to the head of the line.
So if you’re weary of garbage cluttering your social media feeds you have it within your power to transform all that yelling and red-faced hysteria into a haven of graceful cats doing cute cat things and astonishingly beautiful birds doing amazing bird things.
Moreover, fascinating as the cats and birds can be, it’s hard to get locked into mad, endless scrolling, and fairly easy to remember that there’s a 3D world out there that is waiting for you to join it.
Face it. If you were serious about changing the world you wouldn't be sitting around getting pulled into flame wars about Ukraine, the G20, and whether the failed real estate developer's going to do time. If you really want to make a difference in this world, run for city council or school board. Volunteer at a local community center. Tutor kids who are having trouble in school. Being outraged on social media is only going to raise your blood pressure and keep you awake at night.
Remember, cats and birds are the way to go.