Turning inner space into outer space

July 17, 2023

The best social media alternative is no social media

There's been a lot of controversy lately at Twitter and Reddit, resulting in plenty of articles about alternatives. I've tried some of them, and I have to say they're just fine. Mastodon is a fine alternative to Twitter. Lemmy is a fine alternative to Reddit.

But I've been thinking there might be an even better alternative.

That's because I still find myself getting sucked into worrying about issues I have no control over. I know they exist, I wish they didn't. I don't, for example, need reminders about climate change — all I have to do is look out the window.

What I really need are alternatives that help me chill for awhile. Or at least only be involved in things I do have control over. And those alternatives are not social media. Here are a few that work me.


If you're used to scrolling and scanning, then reading a book will take some adjustment. But hang in there — it's worth it. I just finished a 350-page novel that left me floored with the twists and emotions at the end. The payoff was much more satisfying than a bunch of memes.

Even better, I'm reading this as part of a book club, so I get to discuss it with them later. And no, you don't need an app for a book club. Some friends or co-workers will do just fine.

As a change of pace, I'm delving into a non-fiction book, and I'm already three chapters in. Believe me, this was not an easy transition. You can't scroll and scan a book. You have to read and comprehend pretty much every word.

For some reason, book authors have largely escaped the huge dumbing-down created by social media. I know they're under pressure to crank out a blockbuster series because publishers don't think they'll make enough money from a standalone book. Despite this, there are a lot of great writers today who easily stand shoulder-to-shoulder with great writers throughout history.


You might be thinking you need Facebook or Instagram to keep in touch with friends. Technology does make this easier, but there's no need to upload all your personal data in return for a free app. Instead, use email with this one simple trick — contact groups.

I use the Contacts app that comes with all Macs, but I'm sure there are plenty of other apps that do something similar. If I want to contact everyone in the club I belong to, I drag and drop the name of the contact group into the "To:" section of my email app, write my message and hit Send. People who want to respond to the group use "Reply All".

Nobody needs to sign up for anything. Nobody needs instructions.

RSS feeds

You'll need an app for this, but there are free ones that respect your privacy. For Mac users, I recommend NetNewsWire.

With RSS, you can subscribe to whatever news sources you want. It doesn't even have to be news — you could subscribe to newsonaut if you were so inclined.

You can arrange the feeds however you want, and read them in chronological order. They're all treated equally — same size heading, for example — so you can decide for yourself which is most important.

With some configuration, you may be able to read the entire article in the app without visiting the website it come from. In other words — no ads!

RSS is not great for breaking news, but ask yourself: other than idle curiosity why do you need to know right now about something that doesn't affect you? It can wait. And if it does affect you, you'll find out soon enough.


I wish I wrote more, because it really is a good way of getting things out of your system. It's sort of like going on stage. You're nervous as hell right up until the time you step out — then everything is fine.

My writing outlet is is this blog. I coded it myself and host it on a shared server. While I certainly advocate this over Facebook because it puts you are in charge of your own content, I realize it's not that easy for many people.

So if it needs to be Facebook, the go for it. Just try to make it a little more in-depth, a little more original. And remember there are other alternatives such as Tumblr and WordPress.

Or maybe, just maybe, an IRL journal.

The best advice I can give on writing is to put down the words, and keep putting them down, until they make you happy.