Chuck Carroll

Why an RSS Feed Is Superior to a Social Media Feed

Published: 2021-01-09
Updated: 2022-11-12, 2023-08-08

These days it's all too common for people to get most, if not all, of their news and information from their social media feed. This is dangerous as it not only amplifies stupidity rewarding click-bait headlines and outrage, but it also creates an atmosphere of tribalism where people are yelling at one another and simply being outright assholes. The content is often driven by algorithms with the intention of keeping you on the platform longer to serve you more ads. I don't know about everyone else, but my time and focus are valuable to me.

RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) is an alternative to the chaotic and emotionally charged feed that's more often than not filled with exaggerated headlines and misinformation (granted click-bait still exists depending on the RSS feed). Back in the day, you used to be able to follow people easily on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube via RSS, but in the last decade, these options were either crippled, completely disabled, or increasingly difficult to find (as is the case with YouTube). It's not expensive to implement and it's not confusing. It empowers the user, but it's inconvenient to the platform because they want the user actually visiting their website and to keep them there as long as possible to get every penny of ad revenue. It would not surprise me at all if Big Tech companies all conspired to kill RSS, much like automakers in the US conspired to kill/cripple public transportation.

RSS allows us to decentralize the aggregation of the content we subscribe to. To me, social media is the equivalent of junk food for your brain and it's time we take a closer look at our information diet. RSS is basically a web feed which allows you to access updates and content from websites without having to actually visit that website. This includes blogs, news sites, podcasts, and even YouTube videos and tweets (with the right tool). Essentially, it provides you the conscious decision about where your sources of information come from and ultimately what type of content reaches your eyeballs, your brain, and therefore your attention.

Here's a few reasons in a bulleted list:

I very rarely go directly to a website for content anymore and my RSS reader made ditching social media so much easier. Personally, I use newsboat which is a terminal application for Linux. However Liferea is a great RSS reader for Windows and Linux if you want something with a nice GUI.

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