24th Jun, 2022

Replacing Social Media with RSS feeds

You know what social media is. You are using it. We both are. Different people use social media in different ways. Some like to post a lot of things and try to get as many likes for what they post. I used to. My contributions never got many likes though. One time, when I was in university, one of my photo posts on Tumblr went viral. I remember what a foreign feeling it was to get a notification every few seconds. Then Tumblr banned nsfw content, drifted into irrelevancy and my life progressed about 8 years without any virality except for covid.

I use social media in a consuming way. I used to read a lot of reddit and watch a lot of TikTok. I read as much of twitter as my anxiety could tolerate. It was not all wasted time, but I assume the amount of meaningful things I got out of the services was 1 out of every 20 bits of content I consumed. This number is not based on any data at all. I will build my entire case on it.

Having a family and a full time job, there is not much time to use social media, because there is always something to do. Water and things that have to be done will find their way. There are three main times when I use social media:

  1. The toilet
  2. When there is nothing to do for 10 minutes for whatever reason. Don't ask, just take it.
  3. Escapism

I have more free time in the evening and on weekends. If there are larger blocks of free time, I use them to do things. Like writing this. But this small list supports my case a lot better.

You cannot improve what you don't measure, Gandhi said. Let's measure: I have sparse free time over the day and 5% of it yield something meaningful. Now let's improve.

I removed all social media apps from my phone (I don't count messaging apps). Where they were, there are now Instapaper and reeder. I subscribed to a lot of RSS feeds, most of them blogs (the terms fediverse and indieweb exist, they might relate, I do not know). When I sit down on the toilet and open reeder, I have more than 100 items unread at most times. I can then choose one based on session length.

Finding new Feeds

The current process works like this: Get attention of an article on new site. There are multiple ways on how to, more below. I save said article to Instapaper. If the general vibe of the site appeals to me from the get go, I subscribe immediately. Eventually, I will read the saved article. If I feel like I want to read more of this, I will subscribe to the site.

Feeds are in one of three states:

  • Freshly subscribed, finding out how often I read the content there
  • Subscribed for a while and liked
  • Subscribed for a while but untouched. Will eventually be deleted

Finding feeds gets easier the more you follow. Blogs tend to link to content on other blogs. Click the link, you found a new blog. In the beginning, I paid more attention to articles friends sent me and subscribed to feeds there. Also, indieblog.page

Objectively, am I a better human being now?

I don't know. But do I read more? Yes. Is the amount of meaningful content I consume on the toilet higher? Definitely. Additionally, this brings back a lot of memories on how the interned was when I was in school, around 2010. This alone is worth it.

Here is a list of blogs that I tend to read frequently:

© 2024 Chris Jarling