Indecipherable chocolate blobs are great and all, but we've got a different kind of advent calendar for you this year – one that'll sort your mental health right out.
Instead of continuing to use Twitter while calling it a "hell site" and feeling a bit worse every time you open the app, try this: mute one of these words, names, hashtags or handles every day until Christmas, and see how much better your timeline looks.
Muting things only takes a few seconds and the results are so worth it – you can filter out everything you don't want to hear about, from politics to irritating memes. You can also choose how long you mute something for, so if you'd rather it came back after Christmas/you've watched the big match/your patience comes back, that's completely doable.
How to mute
In the mobile app, go to the main menu, Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Muted words. Press the plus and you can add any keyword, phrase, username or hashtag (although you do have to do them one at a time, you can't just write a big list). Then, choose whether you want to bar it from just your timeline or notifications too, and how long for (from 24 hours to forever). Press Save and all those tweets magically disappear, leaving more room for cat pics and embarrassing drunken admissions.
If you include the 'forever' bit, this reads like a list of terrible tattoo ideas
On web, click More at the bottom of the menu on the left, then Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Muted > Muted words. From there, it's as above.
What to mute
1st December: Trump
Obvious AF, but it really clears up your timeline. For maximum results, mute Trump, Trumps, Trump's, #trump, @realdonaldtrump, POTUS, president, #MAGA, #LockHimUp, #impeach and anything else that's trending about the pillock in the Orange House today.
Bonus: add Ivanka, Melania and all his kids' usernames too.
2nd December: Brexit
Get rid of Brexit, #Brexit, Brexshit, remainer, remoaner, Brexiteer and any other related terms that pop up. You can even get rid of EU if you're not fussed about missing out on continental news.
Ahhhh, that's better – it's like 2015 again.
3rd December: Kardashian
Nix the lot. The names, the usernames, the supporting characters (the Jenners and the kids, although you probably shouldn't mute 'North West' if you live in Lancashire).
4th December: Morrissey
That's Morrissey, all the misspellings you can think of (his fans don't tend to be grammarians), #Morrissey and his actual handle, @officialmoz.
5th December: categorically
Whenever someone's fucked something up royally (literally, in Prince Andrew's case), this word comes out of the woodwork. If you'd rather skip all the protestations of innocence, just mute it.
6th December: anything relating to American politics
We've already got rid of El Cheeto (sadly not in real life), now it's time to relegate his countrymen to the Twitter bin.
Helpfully, a lot of them have really unique names that you can safely mute without worrying you'll cut off anything important -- like Buttigieg. There are tonnes of these so it's best to just add them when you see them, but GOP/#GOP/@GOP, Republican, Democrats, congress, senate, senator, senators and White House should clear the noise enough to give you space to think of more.
7th December: unpopular opinion
Twitter code for "something I secretly think everyone agrees with me on." These have been particularly egregious lately, and worse, people tend to dispense them in quote tweets so muting the original callout doesn't even help. The only way is to get rid of the phrase itself (get "controversial opinion" too while you're at it), because – unpopular opinion coming up you guys!!!! – the tweets are universally terrible.
8th December: snowflake
You might miss a few wintry pictures but dear lord is it worth it. Nix the plural form too.
9th December: #TheArchers
There are a surprising number of poshos on Twitter, and an eye-twitching number of them not only listen to but actively tweet about The Archers. Maybe this is just me (and if so, I need to re-evaluate who I follow – damn media types) but if not, get rid of not only #TheArchers but also The Archers: if you're lucky you'll miss some news about Jeffrey and Mary Archer too.
10th December: I'm A Celebrity
You're not a celebrity. You're literally not one, and only two people are still watching this god-forsaken programme. Unfortunately, both of them are prolific tweeters.
Therefore, mute the hashtags #ImACeleb, #ImACelebrity and #ExtraCamp – the latter of which is sadly a spin-off programme and not a reality show about Eddie Izzard – plus the @imacelebrity handle.
Bonus: Get Love Island and 90 Day Fiancé while you're at it.
11th December: Assange
Whatever your feelings on the crazy-haired embassy-dweller, tweets about him almost always kick off furious arguments, and it never solves anything. Turn off Assange, #Assange, #JulianAssange, #Wikileaks and @wikileaks and get your Julian info from an actual news source if you must.
12th December: SJW
Aka 'social justice warrior,' which you should also mute, as well as related hashtags and the plural. This crappy term is supposed to be insulting to people who care about other humans, although it actually comes off sounding pretty positive -- who doesn't want to be a warrior for justice in society?!
Nonetheless, the people who tweet terms like that are generally pretty unpleasant, and this way you don't have to encounter their weak opinions.
13th December: all star signs
To celebrate my birthday, let's get rid of all the horoscope bullshit, not least because a TONNE of people signed up for astrology autotweets years ago and have no idea how to turn them off.
Specifically, you'll want to mute Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces, but you should probably leave out Leo and Cancer if you don't want to miss news about DiCaprio and horrible cell-mutating diseases.
Bonus: nixing Libra also gets rid of news about Facebook's dodgy cryptocurrency.
Update: it has been pointed out to us that people who are into actual astronomy might not want to do this, for instance if you still want to get reminders about meteor showers and such. Fair enough.
14th December: feminazi
And the plural. Honestly, even if it's people talking about horrible sexist trolls, you don't need it in your life.
15th December: all the football club hashtags
And if you can be arsed, all their handles and most popular player names as well. If you're a massive footy fan, feel free to leave your own club off the list, but no one really needs a ten-part thread about the performance of #SWFC this season, and how one random who's never played football thinks it could all be solved.
16th December: Weinstein
Whatever he's doing or not doing right now, we don't want to know about it. We're trying to have a nice Christmas here.
17th December: Epstein
18th December: virtue signalling
And all versions thereof. If you haven't encountered it (lucky you), this is an internet term used by very angry people to accuse nicer people of doing things just to prove they're nice.
To be honest, we'd much rather signal our virtue than have none. Mute mute mute.
19th December: amazeballs
This isn't as popular as it used to be, which is all the more reason to mute it, because the people still using it are unfunny and behind the curve. I don't want to hear how "amazeballs" your secret santa idea is, thanks.
(At least make it amazebaubles, jeez).
20th December: muggles
Some people actually use this in conversation and it is UNBEARABLE. If you follow a lot of Harry Potter accounts, though, you should probably disapparate this one.
Thanks to the geocachers who told us this word is used a lot in their community -- feel free to skip this one!
21st December: tell my kids
The latest meme format on Twitter is to say "I'm gonna tell my kids this was... [name celebrity]" and then post a pic of a similar-looking but very-much-not-the-same-person celebrity, like posting a photo of Noel Fielding and saying "I'm gonna tell my kids this was Dracula." It was mildly funny the first fifty times.
We'd recommend just muting the words "tell my kids" to get rid of this one, because sometimes it's "I'm gonna" and sometimes "I'm going to" and the "this is/this was" bit have variations too.
To be honest, we might just block the words "my kids" entirely...
22nd December: now playing and #nowplaying
No. One. Cares.
23rd December: bro, bros (sorry Bros), broski, broseph...
Nope. None of these, thanks, especially in our mentions. We're also getting rid of banter, bants, banterbury...
December 24th: sco pa tu manaa
Another annoying viral meme. It started with a rap song and means "what's your opinion on the thing in this image."
I promise you will lose absolutely nothing by muting people who are still trying to keep it going ages after it started, and you'll gain back precious minutes not spent reading someone's pedestrian opinion on cheaters.
The word 'bomboclaat' is also used in the same way, but don't mute that if you have any friends from the Caribbean or you'll never know when they're angry with you.
Christmas Day: actually
We can't think of a better present to give yourself than to block this reply-guy favourite from your timeline and your notifications. Imagine – you can actually express opinions now without That One Dude jumping in to splain at you with some utterly pedantic and not-entirely-correct exposition.
Bonus: you won't have to hear about Love Actually either. Come to think of it, we're going to do this one right now.