“For You” is not for me

Published 2023-10-31 by Seth Larson
Reading time: 3 minutes

I derive a lot of joy and meaning from being productive and engaging with people and projects I care about.

Towards doing more of that, I've done a bit of introspection and cost/benefit analysis of my waking hours. One area that has continued to find low value is time spent on platforms that have multiple of the following features:

You might be thinking to yourself, "Seth, that is the entire internet right now". Unfortunately, you're mostly right! Thankfully, it's not the whole internet, but I don't think the platforms that are exhibiting these characteristics will stop any time soon.

Historically I have been very susceptible to the above type of platforms and content. I've caught myself frequently consuming content like this for much longer than I originally intended to, thus leaving no time for activities which I value higher. In an attempt to combat this trend I have been removing many apps from my phone to avoid having "opening an app" turning into an hour-long binge. To date I've removed the following apps from my phone and stopped visiting the websites (with the exception of cross-posting articles):

Facebook (long ago), Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The most recent removal has been the YouTube app from my phone once YouTube started pushing YouTube Shorts above long-form content, I still use YouTube on web. I've joined Blue Sky but am unsure if I really want to "focus" on more than one social media platform. I don't plan on trying Threads right now.

What platforms /do/ I use?

Of course, I still want to see content on the internet, including from many of my friends! I continue to follow the hundreds of blogs, websites, and newsletters that I've enjoyed before purging platforms through the lovely and relatively new reader and newsletter app Omnivore (previously I used Feedly for RSS). I use Mastodon for the closest definition of social media. For synchronous communication I use apps like Signal, Discord, and Slack.

I highly recommend picking up Omnivore or some other RSS/reader application to be able to keep track of the websites and creators you're interested in without locking yourself into a given platform. If you do decide to use Omnivore, please support their team to avoid yet another platform becoming enshittified or unsustainable. If you have the funds to do so, you should be supporting creators you regularly enjoy content from, especially if you're not doing so through their platform which relies on ads.

Another thing I recently discovered was that some popular platforms like YouTube have RSS feeds available which makes it possible to consume the content from a platform while avoiding the exploitative UI patterns (we'll see how long that lasts...). One thing I've noted is that by consuming content this way it disincentives me from continuing to purchase YouTube Red since I'm having to watch their ads outside the app anyway now...

For finding novel content, I'm relying on my friends sharing things with me or seeing them on Mastodon. I also still frequent Hacker News as a way of finding new tech content or creators.

If you're interested in content that I create or interacting with me over the internet I recommend the following platforms:

At least for now these platforms get directly to the source (people) and don't have most of the problems listed above. Stay safe out there, friends! 👻

Note: This article only applies to me and my life, so your own mileage and situation may vary. Get in touch if you have thoughts on this topic.

Don't let social media algorithms decide what you want to see.

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This work is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0