At this point in the election, perhaps a break from the draining news cycle is what people need most. Since signing offline isn’t realistic for most of us, filtering everything seems to be the next best option. And as the battle for the White House has become increasingly exhausting, developers have introduced various Google Chrome extensions that alter and censor content in an effort to make the medicine go down.
Some of these browser extensions are humorous responses to being bombarded by certain words and phrases during the election cycle. Perhaps you’ll lose it if you see the word “Benghazi” in another article about Hillary Clinton — the Fugazi extension replaces all mentions of the word “Benghazi” with the name of the D.C. post-hardcore band. The Drumpfinator substitutes every use of “Trump” with “Drumpf,” the derogatory nickname popularized by John Oliver. The more juvenile Politics to Poop transforms the name of any political candidate into the wide-eyed poop emoji.
And suddenly, it’s a lot easier to stomach this shitshow of an election. Reading political coverage with these amusing extensions turned on still allows you to get the gist of what’s going on. They just add a bit of levity to the tiresome presidential race.
Meanwhile, other extensions take more sweeping measures to ensure that you aren’t exposed to news you don’t want to see. The Hillary Blocker, for example, eliminates all traces of the democratic candidate’s name and image that pop up in your browser. And if you’re just downright fed up with every aspect of election coverage, the I Haven’t Got Time for the ‘Paign extension is the be-all and end-all that censors all election-related content, leaving you to peruse the internet in an apolitical bubble.
While these Chrome extensions may provide a moment of comic relief or tranquility for those who need a pause from election coverage, they also encourage people who “hate politics” to remain in their ways. Anyone who is closely following this election will probably say that occasionally blocking out the commotion is necessary to maintaining sanity, but removing oneself from the discourse altogether misses the point of the current political moment. Consider the privilege required to remove yourself. Certain marginalized groups of people don’t have the luxury to ignore these heated discussions when policies can negatively affect their lives.
If the bleak state of this election is seriously stressing you out, maybe it’s a good call to temporarily install a few of these Chrome extensions. But if you intend to completely turn a blind eye to a political climate that arguably demands more attention, contribution, and criticism than ever, then perhaps you should think twice before permanently switching out the names of political candidates for a piece of friendly-looking shit. It may be difficult, but it’s also crucial to stay tuned into the political discussions that we most feel like tuning out.