“How am I supposed to know about the latest and greatest if I don’t follow my favourite XYZ on Social Media?”, one might ask. Well, here’s something I want to ask you:
- When was the last time you wanted to check News on Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/InsertHere and got sucked up in a void of memes?
- Why would anyone rely on news from f’n Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/…?
What might seem like a wild idea to you was the status quo before the rise of (anti-)social media. People went to a website and got their news. That’s basically it. But remembering every site on earth might be tedious. That’s why Really Simple Syndication Feeds or RSS feeds were invented.
With these things you could tell a program (called news aggregator) which feeds you want to subscribe to and (depending on how much they check for updates) you would get previews/entire articles right into your program and could open the entire website if you were intrigued enough. And here’s the crazy part. Most sites still use this for their feeds, because it is not only easily deployed but really useful. Even social media sites use it, but they hide the RSS feeds in order for you to use their “personalized experience” of being robbed of your attention. But cool thing is, you can easily use RSS readers yourself and it is, quite frankly, very easy.
Let’s say, you wanted to subscribe to this blog. Somewhere down there you can find “RSS”. Click it. It will tell you the URL for the feed to my blog (https://writers-funk.com/feed/). Insert this into the reader of choice and you will get updates as soon as new posts come out. Simple, elegant, chronological (a.k.a. no algorithm steals your attention). There are a few reader options out there. But since I want to help you avoid proprietary garbage that mines your data (we wanted to quit that sh*t) and use Free and Open Source Software, I will provide you with a few great options:
Linux, Mac, Windows:
- This is primarily an E-Mail Client (goodbye G-Mail), but you can also use it to subscribe to RSS feeds. Pretty nice, easy and 100% GUI. You can create different categories like “News” with sub-folders.
- Feeder (available in PlayStore, F-Droid)
- This is a pretty nice and simple RSS feeder. It supports categories as well and also allows you to download RSS feeds onto your mobile device automatically. Links are opened with your default Browser.
- NetNewsWire RSS Reader
- It is stunningly beautiful and FOSS. Only downside: It required iOS 13.
Where to Find RSS feeds
This can be easy or difficult, depending on which program you use and how open the websites work with RSS feeds. Most news-sites, blogs, etc. will offer you the RSS symbol as an indicator. A simple web search (e.g. “TheGuardian RSS feed”) can bring up whatever feed you want. When it comes to subscribing to YouTube channels via RSS feed, this might be a little more tricky. If you use Firefox (and if you want the web to be not Google-controlled, you really should), you can easily install the Add-On “YouTube RSS finder” within the Mozilla AddOn-Store. Go to a random channel of choice and an icon will pop-up in your URL bar. Copy the link into your program of choice and boom, you’re done.
Quick little side-note: On Android, there are more elegant ways of subscribing to YouTube channels without the YouTube app. There’s an app called NewPipe (only available on the F-Droid Store) which allows you to subscribe, download and watch videos (even in the background) right within the app.
What About Friends?
I have two thoughts about that. The friends you really care about the most in your life will tell you what’s going on in their lives, because you talk to them anyway. And everyone else? Well. Quite frankly, most of these other “friends” aren’t your friends. These are random people you know and you will not benefit from being up-to-date about their trip to XYZ in any way. So there’s nothing to lose.
The other thought that I have on my mind is that you should probably share your experiences as a human being within your own website or blog. Why? Because nobody can dictate what to post on your own blog. Nobody can censor you and nobody can take it all away (as long as you post legal stuff, of course). Nobody will randomly shout at you (unless you install a comment section). It is liberating to be in control. And most importantly: If Twitter/Facebook/Reddit/… goes out of business (and it happened before with other services), your content will be gone for good. But your personal website will not. You can back that stuff up. If Twitter is gone, well, your website is still there. WordPress, the service I use, might be gone at some point. But hey, I can download EVERYTHING. I can just set up a new website. It might be an effort and take a while. But I’m good. And you should have your own corner on the web as well. The internet would be a way more pleasant place if people took care about what they post in such a fashion. Remember MySpace (or copy-cats)? Your own site is like that but with more possibilities and options. And this is a really beautiful thing.
F#?k social media and welcome to liberty with RSS!