Me. And the internet.

Sometimes I feel bored. I’d like to scroll any timeline, just to spend time on something mindless. I can’t do that. There’s nothing I can scroll. I have left every social platform where I could potentially scroll anything. But this post isn’t about leaving social media, many words have been written and many stories have been told, and there’s no need for another one. Well, I can’t see any reason.

This post is about how I use technology. And where is a place of technology in my life.

One can already find some posts on this blog about my tools and productivity systems, and what I use for specific tasks, including those related to the internet. I don’t want to repeat it, there’s no point in writing again the same words.

One can read them here:

  1. Minimal, but not limited
  2. The right tools
  3. Effectivness
  4. Decluttering
  5. Decluttering continues
  6. Joining the party

It looks like I’ve written a lot of words about my tools. That’s OK, it’s my blog, I can write another post about using technology.

Over the last few years I have deleted every social media account I had. My reasons were different for each platform, but mostly similar to those widely and vociferously discussed in the media. Until this week, I only had LinkedIn and Mastodon accounts.

Now I’m only on Mastodon. And anyone who’s tried Mastodon knows that it’s a very specific platform. There’s no algorithm, there’s just people writing whatever they want. But it doesn’t matter how many posts they make, there is an end to the timeline. There is a point where the new posts stop and even if you are addicted to scrolling, there is a moment when it starts to get boring and the addiction breaks. There is no doomscrolling on Mastodon.

Mastodon is one of the four pillars of my internet. The second one is RSS reader. I use NetNewsWire with iCloud backend, mainly because its simplicity, convenience and design language. I’m subscribed to over one hundred feeds, but those are mostly people who I know more or less personally. Sure, not all of them, but about 80% of those people I know and like. Some of them are my friends.

The app I use doesn’t really matter, more important is the fact, that I know people who I follow and there aren’t any big tech blogs, publishers or influencers. There’s none. It also means that there’s no noise in the app. Over hundred of blogs may looks like a big number, but considering that every one of them publish one or two posts per week (often much less) it means that every time I open the app I see maybe ten new posts which I can read, or save for later.

I read exclusively in my reader app, which presents the article in very simple and minimalistic way, it looks like I was reading an e-mail from a friend. Which probably is true, because letters, love. When I want to read something later, I simply leave the article in the app marked as unread. It’s enough, it’s going to be there next time I open it. If the article is something I would like to read again, or share with someone, or put it on my blog as a starting point for a discussion – I simply mark it as favorite. It’ll stay in the app. If something is really, really remarkable and I want to keep it forever, I do the only things that guarantee longevity of the web content: I print it as a PDF file and save to a new note in Notes app. Why not as the file? I have a special collection of such notes in dedicated folder in Notes app and every one of them contain my comments on the article, next to the PDF. It’s easier to do it in Notes app than in file system. That’s the second pillar of my internet.

The third pillar is a few local portals with news, but those are hand picked by me and constantly verified if they deliver journalism on the proper level – and without any ads or sponsored content. I didn’t add them to the RSS reader, even I could do that – they publish feeds – because I want to check them when I’m ready to read about politics, wars, and crisis. This is the world we live in, and I have to take care of my mental health. I must be ready and in a good shape to read those publications, so they’re out of the reader.

The fourth, the last, but the most important pillar is communication with friends. I use iMessage, Signal and an e-mail. I mostly prefer iMessage mainly due to encryption, design language, security,1 and because most of my friends already use it. Signal is for those friends, who haven’t access to iMessage, but I talk with them regularly. E-mail is for folks who don’t want to use chat apps because the pace of the communication (and a few other reasons) and for those who I don’t know personally and they still want to contact me.

That’s all. That’s my whole internet. Mastodon, RSS feeds, a few websites, and three communication apps.

The lack of compulsion to use any tools even forced by work gives me great comfort of choosing what I want to use. I decided that I don’t want to participate in everything delivered by big techs, so I don’t have a Google account, nor I use Docs, Gmail, G Maps and the rest, I don’t have accounts in most popular services and my keychain app gives me the total number of 25 saved passwords, including bank accounts and government services. Right now I’m in the position where I don’t know what else I could delete, and I don’t fell any urge to do so. 2

There is no need to use any Adblock apps or extensions when I use only services that don’t show ads. I don’t use any other tools that help dealing with other annoyances, because I don’t see them. I rarely use search and if I do, I use DuckDuckGo for a many years, maybe Google or Bing are better, but DDG don’t have any AI chat (yet).

A few paragraphs earlier I touched another important point for me. I don’t follow the biggest and well-known blogs and newsletters. One thing is the volume of publications, another one is the presence of sponsored posts. I know that everyone wants to make a living, but blogging for me is a hobby and I prefer to read those for whom it also is a hobby. There’s a significant difference between reading a post from a friend who is dear to me, and who I know personally and reading a post from an influencers who must publish to earn money. I don’t judge them, they have their audience, I know that a lot of my friends read them, and it’s fine, I’m fine with it, I simply chose not to do so. I did in the past, I learned a lot, but I’m not interested in current hot takes and tech dramas. Or any other dramas.

My approach isn’t perfect, I’m fully aware that I can be tracked because I use Safari without any add ons, but I prefer to not visit some websites if I have doubts than using tools that could protect me. I trust myself and nothing more, there’s no company that can convince me they’re trustworthy. Not anymore.

Inconvenience is the price I have to pay sometimes. I have resigned from many tools and from many apps, and I had to find workarounds for others. But I regret nothing. I was afraid that I would lost contact with people who aren’t willing to install signal or communicate with e-mails, and… I was right, I have lost it. But somehow it showed that I don’t miss them. It may sound cruel, and it is a topic for another post, but sometimes it’s good to revisit relationships. Those tools I use make possible to talk with everyone I want to talk with. That’s more than enough for me.

Resigning from so many distractors gave me a lot of time, so I often feel bored. I keep starring on the phone screen and after few minutes when I realize there’s nothing here to do, I start meditating, reading a book, watching a movie or just sit with my own mind and think. It’s great to be bored sometimes, it’s amazing what one can do when he or she is bored.

There is one more important thing I have achieved by resigning from, well, a lot of apps and services. I don’t feel depended on any company. Some may tell, that I’m too deep in Apple ecosystem and I’m dependent on Apple, but… I can move anytime I want, mainly because my most important things are in plain files that I can read on every other computer, and everything else that I keep in Apple proprietary formats – I can simply abandon. I built my digital life in a way that makes me free and light, and always ready to go. Well, that’s my life philosophy, also for another post.

The summary of the last few paragraphs can be reduced to a short sentence: I use my tools and I don’t allow my tools to use me. Or abuse me.

  1. I know that some of you don’t trust Apple, me neither, but well, I don’t trust any company and iMessage is already there. ↩︎
  2. Well, there is one account I haven’t delete yet, but it’s a matter of time: Microsoft one. ↩︎