3 min read

the joys of rss

the joys of rss

The majority of my college years were spent trying to know everything. Are they dating? Who’s that? What’s the status of the new apartment building? After all, if you’re working in a college newspaper, you’d want to know everything relevant, right? Twitter was one of the things very conducive for that but, as you all know, it became a very painful place to be just (even just to scroll through!) and I have now ceased to use that app.

Well, what’s next?

I’ve kind of scurried from one firehose of information to the other. My normal social media trappings still exist — I love using Instagram for posting photos and getting inspired by other photographers — but nothing beats the firehose that was Twitter. But I tried to start with Reddit.

I’d been using Reddit since middle school (back when hating Ellen Pao was the shit), a site which I can probably accurately describe as Twitter’s spiteful teenage sibling. If Twitter was the shining star where memes pop up and die out, Reddit was the more jaded and bitter sibling that insisted it was right.

But it filled the need for a firehose. The r/nba community has memes galore, as well as the same over the top reactions I found on Twitter. The focused discussions and deep dives found on the sports subreddits were what I needed, and for any actual news I would head to r/popular or r/news to get the latest headlines. Other times, I would go to r/politics to read what they had to say there.

But I didn’t quite like that either. I think it was the interactivity.

With Reddit and Twitter, you’re encouraged to interact. It’s how they keep you on the site and make money! Upvote, downvote, retweet — all these buttons begging for you to give them a tap and add to the overall engagement of the site. The chance to start and participate in these discussions is amazing, sure. But the frenzy of it all can get to you.

I ended up starting using frontends for Reddit that let you browse through and subscribe to subreddits, but don’t let you upvote, downvote or comment. And I really enjoyed that. But still fell into the addictive trappings of scrolling and browsing.

And now I have ended up here, with RSS. As a fan of alternative methods, it was fun to try and use RSS again for news in the age of social media. But also too much. I initially subscribed to Hacker News, The Verge and NYT, but found that the firehose was too strong. There were too many headlines I didn’t really care about, and I didn’t care to try and pick through the feeds to find more specific ones.

I’ve realized that I don’t actually want a firehose. I wanted articles that were engaging, interesting, and things I’d want to share.

This is where I am. I’ve been trying to find smaller traffic (pipettes, if you will) websites and blogs and have mostly been successful. One of my friends from high school writes essays, I’m subscribed via RSS. The Athletic publishes articles about the Golden State Warriors and SF 49ers. I’m subscribed to those too. I’m now trying to find more interesting thinking and the level of curation feels awesome. No more recommendations. No more scrolling past some vitriolic comment about the validity of transgender people or Lebron’s legacy. Things feel as they are, and I get to them when I have the time.

It also feels more like a newspaper (maybe … a Flipboard?). Not sure why. Let that conclude my confused ramblings about how I like RSS. I’ll probably write more about it later.