No matter where I go on the Internet, I feel like I am trapped in the “feed,” held down by algorithms that are like axes trying to make bespoke shirts out of silk. And no one illustrates it better than Facebook and Twitter, two more services that should know better, but they don’t. Fake news, unintelligent information and radically dumb statements are getting more attention than what matters. The likes, retweets, re-posts are nothing more than steroids for noise. Even when you are sarcastic in your retweets or re-shares, the system has the understanding of a one-year-old monkey baby: it is a vote on popularity.
Om Malik on the feed.
I don’t generally engage with algorithmic feeds online.1 The closest I get to it is Twitter, which I access via either TweetDeck or Tweetbot, both of which only display a chronological timeline. My other feeds are Tumblr (chronological), which I strip of ads and promoted posts, and RSS, which is a pure oldskool chronological list of posts from sites I’ve chosen to subscribe to. New content I mostly discover horizontally, i.e. when it’s recommended directly by people I already subscribe to.
The other thing I’ve started trying to not do is, particularly on Twitter and Tumblr, is “hate boost” things. It’s not that I dislike it when other people do it—I will heart that scathing quote-tweet with the best of them—I just don’t want to do it myself. I think it was linking my Twitter and Mastodon accounts that made me more mindful about this; Mastodon has a very different culture than Twitter, and the takedown-quote-retweet isn’t part of it.2