The receipt of attention is earned, both initially to capture it, and continually to keep it. No one is entitled to it, ever.
The online experience you immerse yourself in is, to a large degree, under your control. You can give your attention easily with a click, and add information to the stream you take in. But never forget that you can remove it as easily, and sometimes you absolutely should.
I’m not a fan of the piling-on, lynch mob tactics that seem to be doled out as routine punishment for online misbehavior. I’m also not particularly a fan of the public announcement that you’re no longer a follower of so-and-so. Sometimes I suppose it’s beneficial to let someone know that you see what misbehavior they’re up to, or why they’ve lost your interest. But I think those occasions are few and far between (like, say, gross breaches of ethics or the law), and are much more likely to make us look as much like the jerks we’re trying to “call out”.
By contrast, quiet removal of attention can have several benefits. For your own sake, it’s one less fly in the online ointment to make your experience on the web shaded with unnecessarily upsetting or irritating things. Collectively, we can make an awful lot of impact by simply removing our attention without saying a word. Malicious malcontents and consistent jerkbags without audiences to feed their antics are as useless as a two-legged stool.
There is so much good information on the web. So many good, interesting people with outstanding ideas. So many causes to support. So much to learn and enjoy and entertain you.
Why would you spend one more second of your time – the one non-renewable resource that you always wish you had more of – on someone or something that doesn’t continually remind you why you spend it there?
Now before you give me the bit about having too much homogeny and groupthink in your stream if you only follow people that agree with you…
There’s not one shred of this post that says you should surround yourself with only people that think the way you do. But you can have diversity of thought, even disagreement, that can be unabashedly awesome. Uncomfortable, maybe, but in the way that your muscles hurt so good after a workout. You shouldn’t walk away from anyone or anything repeatedly feeling like garbage. It’s possible to disagree with someone, step way outside your comfort zone, and still have it actually be a rewarding experience.
Your line is almost certainly different than mine, which is fine. But do have one. Respect your own time as you would insist that someone else to respect it. Click unfollow. Unsubscribe. Unfriend. Edit relentlessly, and constantly as your interests and experiences change. Your criteria can evolve, but the ultimate accountability for the quality of your online experience will always be yours alone.
Take back your attention, and allow it to once again be focused in the places that enrich you. If we’re ever to really realize the potential of what the web has brought us, how we continue to bestow and devote our precious attention makes all the difference in the world.