The great unfollowing 😱

Inspired by @cedevroe’s semi-regular purges, I’ve gone through my many services and unfollowed, unsubscribed, and deleted everything. And, I mean everything! That’s all of my RSS feeds, newsletters, podcasts, and Micro.blog, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts. This seemed kind of crazy at first, until I realized that being so attached to these things is rather silly.

Before simply resubscribing to everything, I’m trying to take a more thoughtful approach to why I’m using each of these services.

All of my news feeds are in NetNewsWire with Feedbin as the back end. I’d accumulated a few dozen feeds here, the vast majority of which I was consistently just marking all as read. Many were feeds that I thought I should read, rather than actually wanted to read. I’m going to resubscribe to just the ones that seemed to consistently yield interesting (to me) articles, like Quanta Magazine and Aeon.

As newsletters arrive, I’ll unsubscribe from them. If I still see value, I’ll transition them over to Feebin and they’ll show up among the news feeds. Conceptually this makes sense to me, since they really are just another source of news, rather than actual correspondence to me.

Although I cleaned up my podcasts a couple of years ago, I’d added a few more since then. I think my original list is still the right one. Nevertheless, I’ve unsubscribed from them all and will reintroduce them slowly.

The YouTube algorithms are far too powerful and tempting. So, I’m shifting to adding specific channels to Feedbin. I like a few science and math oriented channels (such as Steve Mould, 3Blue1Brown, and Stand-up Maths), the rest were just mindless ways of passing the time.

Instagram used to be where I went to see pictures from friends about their adventures, kids, and pets. Over time my feed had become dominated by brands, especially fitness, beer, and whiskey. Nothing wrong with any of these, obviously, just not what I need to be seeing, So, back to just accounts for people I actually know. As an aside, I was surprised by how easy Instagram makes it to unfollow, including a helpful list of which accounts you interact with the most and the least.

I really like the idea of Twitter as a place to follow my interests. We all know that in practice it can be a pretty nasty place. As an experiment, I’m going to try only following topics there, rather than people. To be honest, though, I lost my Twitter scrolling habit about halfway through the Trump presidency and I’m not that tempted to return.

Micro.blog was tricky. As the opposite of Twitter, I’ve found lots of nice people having interesting conversations there on a wide array of topics. But, the point of this exercise is to clean out everything, so even here I’ve stopped following everyone. I suspect that I’ll end up mostly back where I started on this one.

I have to admit feeling a bit disoriented this morning. My usual routine is to scan through all of these sources while waking up with some coffee. There are lots of other things I can be doing in the morning though, starting with actually reading some of the articles I’ve accumulated in my ever lengthening read-it-later queue.

Although a purge like this can seem dramatic, I think it can also be therapeutic. Thanks to @cedevroe for prompting this.

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