2023 – Return to the Syndicated Stone age (RSSa)

The new year has already been dubbed by some in the tech world as the year of RSS, meaning people will ditch social media for the consumption-style RSS feed. It is the same concept of switching from a smartphone to a mobile phone. You might be thinking, “Why would anyone go backwards in technology?” Everyone may have their own reasons for doing so, but mine is simply because of the social media trap.

The past few months I have noticed a personal, increased social media presence. I would have my app open 7 or 8 times a day, and because of the algorithms to keep me in the app longer, this would equate to 4 or 5 hours a day. I was managing to keep my studies, work, and family life balanced so I do not feel as if I have somehow lost that time or that I am wrong for spending that spare time on social media. It is just that 4 or 5 hours can be a bit excessive for a single particular hobby.

One of the items I have learned through osmosis is that having regularly scheduled checkpoints to evaluate my personal life is important. Just like the feedback loop in software engineering presents a better product, a feedback loop in daily life is just as important. Software engineering says the feedback loop should be the shortest possible to completion; however, my feedback loop is every 3 months. This gives me enough time to cycle through and evaluate how I am doing without changing too rapidly. This last iteration, ending in September, allowed me to gather the data to know I was spending about 24 hours a week on social media.

This current iteration was filled with thoughts of, “I know I need to do something, but what!?” However, when Elon Musk bought Twitter, everyone scrambled off of it to their own respective platforms. It was then I remembered that a solution exists in the form of RSS. The content I want to view and consume is retrieved without the help of a company’s algorithm of keeping me on their platform.

I settled for Yarr as my feed reader and RSS-Bridge for middleware when RSS feeds were not available. I am hosting these apps in my Kubernetes homelab and am using Github OAuth for authentication. While I have only tested this option for several weeks now, it seems to have kept me out of the algorithm octopus. Preliminary observations have shown 3-5 more hours for other hobbies – such as sleep, books, video games, blog posts, and other silly stuff that is interesting to me alone.