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Beat The Algorithms

Social media is all about the algorithms. They are designed to keep you on the site, steer you to make purchases, and keep you enraged and engaged. 

This isn’t good. It’s profitable (for them) but not healthy for you. 

Controlling the time you spend online is one more way of being 100 percent responsible for your life. I prefer an organized approach where everything has it’s place.

Here are three things you can do to have more control of the time you spend online: 

Learn to use RSS feeds

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. When you subscribe to an RSS feed, you are notified anytime a website puts up a new post. The technology has been around for decades. I’ve been suggesting it for nearly as long. It’s a really good way to be intentional about what you read, rather than just reading whatever the algorithm puts in front of you. 

The best app for iPhone/iPad/Mac is NetNewsWire. It’s free on all three platforms and syncs through iCloud without any additional cost. 

After you have it installed then add any URL to the app and it will look for a feed to follow. Once subscribed, you’ll receive a notification anytime a new post is made. 

I like James Taylor. But even I, a super fan, won’t check his official site every day. Instead I subscribe to the site and I’m notified anytime there is something new.

You can subscribe to a newsroom site and see all the articles without all the extra stuff that shows up when you follow them on Facebook or Twitter. You can even subscribe to my site

Make YouTube more useful for You

I watch Youtube videos but I don’t subscribe to any channels. I don’t use YouTube Explore or Recommended videos either. I don’t even stay logged in to my account. In fact, I try to use my Google account for as few things as possible.

Part of it is a desire for privacy, but the bigger part is a more intentional control of how I spend my time online. 

My YouTube interaction consists of specific searches and also a handful of specific accounts from which I want to see all videos. For the videos that fall under the latter category, I subscribe to them via RSS in NetNewsWire.

With this approach, the videos are delivered to me and I’m sure to see them.

Just put the Youtube URL right into NetNewsWire and you’re set.

Four steps to add a Youtube channel to NetNewsWire

This saves you from being pulled into the time warp of Youtube-land. It will let you choose what to watch rather than than being told what to watch next.

Own your thoughts and words

One way to avoid the algorithm of social media is to be sure your personal thoughts are posted in a place you control. You can stay focused on what you want to put into the world instead of just consuming.

I write things here on my site and just link to them from social media. Sometimes I wonder how many quality facebook posts die because the author opens the app and is sidetracked.  

As I’ve written before:

When you blog at a domain that you own, your words belong to you. When you use a social media platform, the words belong to the company. Also people tend not to use social media wisely.

Using social platforms feels temporary. On social media the posts are hard to find, link to, and just seem to disappear over the years. I worry about those who “use Facebook as a journal.” It won’t end well. 

-Brian Stucki, A certain number of words

If you want to write things that will still be available in the future, make a blog of your own.

You could signup today on WordPress.com and have a place where you write. Pay a nominal amount and you can do it at a domain of your choice so it can live through different platforms and technology shifts.

In fact, Facebook will even allow you to export all past posts and put them on a blog of your own. Do it.

Just start somewhere

These are three little steps that will help you beat the algorithms. Keep an eye out for other places that control your time and then make an effort to minimize the ulterior control in your life.