Own your scroll

Scrolling is a necessary tool of digital existence, no matter how much we detest our dependence on it. This is largely because most people are scrolling on a platform where they have little control on the content they see.

Social media algorithms mean you don’t see the posts of everyone you follow. You see only what is currently popular from some of them. Plus you see other stuff you don’t follow that their robots “think you might like”. Popular means engagement, so the original post is swarming with comments from strangers. You also see ads littered everywhere. The interface itself is urging you to like, like, like …

But digital life really doesn’t have to be this way. The very best content is not authored directly inside social media anyway. It exists on websites – blogs, news, magazines, opinions. Millions upon millions of new articles created every week.

But you don’t want to visit dozens of websites to find out what’s new. What you need is a way to have the website content you choose come to you, when you want it.

This solution exists already in the form of a little known technology called RSS. It exists in the background of almost all content websites. It’s a way for RSS apps to subscribe to that websites content and receive new articles when they are available.

In the RSS context, subscribe doesn’t mean you pay, nor do you give your email. In fact the website owner won’t even know you’ve subscribed at all.

You can download an RSS app for free on your phone. This excellent site contains a primer on how you get started.

Start with two or three sources. Maybe a news site and a couple of blogs you like.

Give it a go, and after a few days, you’ll feel something magical happen. You have an app with a feed you can scroll through that you completely control. You decide what is in there. There is no algorithm. Just the latest posts from every site interleaved in reverse date order.

You don’t even need to leave the app to read. I subscribe only to full text feeds, so the entire article is readable within the app. No cookie pop ups or confusing menus to navigate.

There’s no comments or likes. If you no longer wish to see posts from a particular author, you remove their feed from your app and you never see them again.

Everyone should strive to own their own scroll.

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