In the old days, you had to go looking for crushing existential horror. Now, you can just wake up and glance at literally any social media site, and a bevy of it will be waiting for you. That's where Google Chrome extension Sadblock comes in. It helps you out by cleaning up sad, triggering, and sometimes just plain annoying news from your social media feeds.
Sadblock will help you "take back control of your social feeds," according to the extension's website. It does this by allowing you to block certain types of posts from your social media. "Current categories include sad stories, political posts, climate change posts, and those that include common trigger words," the site says. You can download Sadblock for free from the Chrome Web Store.
The extension allows you to block these various kinds of content wholesale, and its multi-site approach appears to be a step up from other blockers, most of which exist for one service only and require you to add in your own blacklisted keywords. For example, Tumblr Savior allows users to filter their Tumblr feed, but users must manually add words and tags they want to see blocked, like "death" or "Trump." Twitter application TweetDeck has a Mute function, but also requires you to manually input words, phrases, and links you want banned from your feed.
Sadblock's range allows you to block upsetting political content, or videos of abused animals, or stories about certain celebrities. Its functionality allows people to block things that annoy or mildly upset them, but it also allows people who are triggered by seeing news about sexual assault to avoid it completely.
"At Sadblock we trust you already know the planet is struggling and that people all around the world are dying in terrible ways, and we won’t judge you for wanting to turn off the sad for a little while," the site adds. "Someone will bring it up at the water cooler tomorrow anyway."
Basically, Sadblock is intended to help people unwind and take a mental breather away from the constant influx of horrible information. It's not intended to help people ignore reality.
Psychologist Dr. Graham Davey told Huffington Post that "[n]egative news can significantly change an individual’s mood — especially if there is a tendency in the news broadcasts to emphasize suffering and also the emotional components of the story. [...] Viewing negative news means that you’re likely to see your own personal worries as more threatening and severe, and when you do start worrying about them, you’re more likely to find your worry difficult to control and more distressing than it would normally be."
"Sadblock does reduce what you see that's troubling, but also inexplicably deletes innocuous posts and leaves a lot of distressing ones."
And though the app is imperfect, it's important to recognize that Sadblock is still an incredibly useful tool for people who need to continue to engage with social media for work or companionship and want to protect their mental health while doing so.