More and more people and professionals are complaining that social media is making our lives more toxic — driving people away from each other instead of helping to bring us together. But I also know that many of us now rely upon Facebook and Twitter to connect us to the news, showing us links to stories and posts from the sources we've chosen to follow.
Is there any way to keep the good part of social media — the connection with the stuff that informs and entertains us — without all the other garbage that social media algorithms choose to show us instead?
There is... and it's actually been available to us for years. If you want to spend less time online with the crazy and more time with the sources you trust, I would like to introduce (or re-introduce) you to a wonderful type of app called an RSS Reader.
An RSS Reader shows you headlines and links (or even entire articles) only from the sources you choose to follow. And it shows you all the recent links from those sources, so there's no missing interesting news because some program at Facebook or Twitter didn't think it was "viral" enough... or no one paid them to promote it to you, either.
I use an app called RSS Bot, which sits up in the menu bar on my Mac and changes color when there's a new post from any of the sources I follow. That's how I keep on top of the latest press releases from theme parks as well as some of my favorite news sources, as RSS updates are almost always faster than email newsletters in letting me know when a new page is posted to the Web.
The most popular RSS Reader out there today seems to be Feedly, which allows you to discover new feeds, as well as the sources you know and wish to follow, much more easily than RSS Bot, which is better suited for a power use who just wants to add known RSS feeds quickly. I would recommend either to Theme Park Insider readers who want to keep in real-time touch with our latest posts via RSS.
RSS is now known as "really simple syndication" and it's the markup system that delivers your favorite podcasts. But it can allow you to subscribe to other forms of information as well, including websites. We have an RSS feed for our front page articles here on Theme Park Insider.
On Feedly, you can add us to the sources you follow by searching for "Theme Park Insider" and clicking the "Follow" button. On RSS Bot, you can just add our RSS feed's address to your subscriptions: https://www.themeparkinsider.com/news/rss.xml.
You can find direct links to other websites' feeds either by searching through Feedly or by looking for the RSS icon on the sites you want to follow and copying their links. (Yes, that's what that orange icon on our navigation bar is for!)
And if you still want to engage with other readers when using RSS to navigate the Internet, you can follow your links to join discussions on those source pages, such as this one. No more "wild west" on social media, where ad dollars and shady algorithms rule. Of course, the quality of reader discussion varies wildly on individual websites, but I try my best to set a good example here on Theme Park Insider.
I've recently given up interacting with readers on social media, given the growing toxicity and inconsistent community standards on those platforms. I've got better things to do with my time, including maintaining this online community. We will continue to publish video, photos, and links to our stories on Facebook and Twitter, but we are treating those media basically like secondary RSS feeds at this point. For fast, consistent access to new Theme Park Insider posts — and the best discussions about them — please follow us on RSS.Tweet
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