An Antidote to Social Media

Social media is toxic. It shortens your attention spans and is linked with depression. We find ourselves impulsively doom-scrolling any brief moment of time we find ourselves insufficiently sedated with a constant stream of algorithm generated addictive content… or so I hear.

While the truth is probably not as sensational as all of that, there’s no doubt that social media has become the opioid of the masses. Personally I find it dystopian to go into public places and see everyone starting at a tiny screen. I sit in a restaurant and see 80 year old couples staring at their phones. I check out at the local DG and the cashier never looks up from her barrage of Tik Tok videos.

You tell yourself you need to quit social media. You will quit scrolling Reddit before bed and swiping through TikTok toilet videos on your regular trip to the throne. Admit it, it never sticks. You find yourself right back where you started.

We Must Go Back

Well… good news for you! I have found the antidote and the antidote is to go back to the beginning. Back to the early web. Back to RSS feeds!

If you can’t remember two towers collapsing or hurricane Katrina you might not even know what an RSS feed is. No surprise there, afterall I barely knew what they were. The truth is I grew up in a rural area and didn’t have access to internet til I was in my 20s so I’m a bit sheltered. I do still remember coming across various websites early on with little icons that were links to their RSS feeds. So I was aware of them, but didn’t pay any attention.

In short, an RSS (Really Simple syndication) feed is a standardized format used to distribute and publish content from websites, blogs, podcasts, and etc. There any may programs available to subscribe to RSS feeds but these days the most popular use is for podcasts!

One of the great things about RSS feeds is that it allows you to choose your content, not an alogorithm. It incentivises long-form quality content as well and can result in a deeper understanding of topics than what you’d find on the local twitter.

Acquire all the Feeds

How do you get RSS feeds? The answer is actually much easier than you might think. The most obvious way is to look for this icon on websites. Usually blog sites or news sites.

Clicking that link above will take you to the RSS feed for this site.

Another great way to find RSS feeds is to recognize that much of the internet, like this website, runs off wordpress.

WordPress sites usually have a function built in to where if you type in /feed or /rss at the end of the URL it will take you to the rss feed for that site.

For example:

So next time you find a blog website you like or a news site try adding /feed or /rss at the end of the URL and about 3/4 times it will give you the RSS feed URL.

Another way to reliably get RSS feeds is to find them on Substack. Like wordpress sites, adding /feed at the end of a substack will take you to its rss feed.


Substack has nearly an infinite supply of quality content so it’s a great place to look.

Finally, there are many services that will simply parse any website and attempt to create an RSS feed url for you. I won’t go over what they are as I do not use them myself but you should be able to easily find info for them online.

RSS Feed Readers

There are many RSS Feed Readers, probably hundreds of them actually. Many have pros and cons but I will be focusing on a small number that I find particularly great and personally use.

Criteria for a Great RSS Reader

This is my own personal criteria and based mainly just on my opinion but I specifically look for:

  1. Nextcloud News Integration
  2. Open Source
  3. Design

I have been using my own Nextcloud for years now and try to utilize it’s functionality whenever possible. I often switch between my work computer, home computer, phone, and iPad when reading RSS feeds so I want to be able to pickup where I left off. So Nextcloud News Integration is a must-have for me.

If you only ever use one device just about anything will work. There are also many proprietary readers that let you sign up and sync accounts but I won’t be covering those here. After all one goal of escaping social media is to escape data tracking and you cannot guarantee that with source code that’s unavailable.

Linux – Newsflash

Right out of the gate this RSS Reader has it all. It has flawless Nextcloud Integration, it’s open-source, and has the design to back it up. This thing is gorgeous!

It has light and dark themes and appears to be based on GTK. You can easily install it on any Linux distro with FlatPak. It should also be available in most repos by default. Don’t skip this reader if you are a Linux user!

Android/iOS/iPadOS – Nextcloud News

Big surprise here right!?

Well just like Newflash above, the Nextcloud News app does not disappoint. It has everything going for it with a great intuitive design, light, dark, and AMOLED mode. I absolutely love the AMOLED mode which takes advantage of AMOLED screens to totally turn off pixels not in use. Nextcloud integration is built in and the code is open source. High marks all around!

The apple variants are similar but don’t seem to look as modern as the android equivalent with a different styling and different icon. It’s still easily a 9/10 though so don’t skip out.

Windows – RSS Guard

I had a hard time on this one. I looked far and wide for a good RSS Reader on Windows. The pickings ranged from slim to sketchy.

Going to the Microsoft Store reveals dozens of RSS Readers. All of them proprietary, from companies I’ve never heard of, with very few downloads and often zero reviews. So that was a no go. I wouldn’t be surprised if they contained malware.

Next I turned my attention to Chocolately to look for readers. After trying a few I had a hard time locating one with integration with Nextcloud. RSS Guard was the only RSS Reader I could find on Windows with Nextcloud integration.

RSS Guard isn’t technically much to look at, but it possesses all the necessary functionality and I am eternally greatful to Martin Rotter for being the one person standing alone in a hostile environment. If not for him my work days would be much more discouraging.

RSS Guard’s Nextcloud Integration works as it should, mine does not seem to auto-refresh but I haven’t looked for a setting to change that. I’m fine without it though. The project is of course open source and available through chocolately.

Now for the design…

My first reaction to the design was this was a project left over from 2006. It uses the Qt framework and thus the design looks very dated. This was a turn off for me at the beginning. However, after using it for months now at work I have to say I’ve changed my mind.

The design now feels nostalgic to me. It reminds me of early Linux, like the days of using Ubuntu 8.04. So now I rather enjoy it. The layout and usability is great. It gets regular updates and possesses the ability to play audio and show images inline. It also has a built in web browser functionality to show sites right inside the RSS reader. It’s also worth mentioning it has a dark mode!

I rather enjoy the app so if you are stuck on windows then give it a shot.

MacOS and Honorable Mentions

In short I don’t own a mac and do not have access to one so I cannot speak to RSS readers there. If you have one you like feel free to leave it in a comment as it would be helpful to others.

Other readers I’ve used and like are Raven Reader and Thunderbird.

Raven Reader is on par with NewsFlash in many ways and is cross-platform. However it is cross platform for being an electron app and it is quite huge and memory hungry. I may be incorrect but I do not recall it having Nextcloud integration either.

Thunderbird is notable for being an email app you may already have but it can also be an RSS Feed Reader. I was unable to find Nextcloud integration in it though and the RSS feed functionality is notably simplistic.

If you already use Thunderbird though and don’t need cross platform sync then it might be all you need.


It’s a nice change of pace to settle down and read articles from a feed of your favorite authors rather than doom-scroll through facebook. I would argue it’s much healthier and having and end to the stream of content is great for those with addictive personalities. So give RSS Feeds a chance. Sometimes going back is going forward.

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