In a Rut

Lately, I’ve been thinking the scope of my activities is just too narrow.

When I get online, I go to the same cycle of websites every day. I check CNN to see if anything important is happening. I pick out a couple of articles from The Atlantic that seem interesting. I go to io9, my portal of choice for the Gizmodo geeky stuff I want to follow. I go to the forum for my gaming clan. Then I google “Destiny” and see if there’s any news, usually reading Paul Tassi’s near-daily post at Forbes. Then I google “Expanse” to see if they’ve finally released a premiere date for Season 4 (spoiler: they haven’t).

That’s it. Then I’ll end up doing that all over again a few times a day. Whenever I need a break at work, I run that gamut even though there’s nothing new after 8AM on most of those sites. (And once a week, I peek in at National Review to try to force myself outside my bubble.)

Oh, and there’s Facebook.

But Facebook also feels like it’s just the same thing over and over again. There’re left-leaning political posts. The algorithm makes sure I know what Elizabeth Warren and Ocasio-Cortez are up to. There’s going to be a some petitions for me to sign to tell the powers that be that I want to save the bees and stuff like that. There’ll be the daily activity on my AP English teachers’ group and my Expanse fan group. Sometimes I’ll respond to some of that stuff.

But there’s a definite sameness and monotony to all of it, that’s for sure.

Scrolling through just now, I saw the oatmealish paste of pics of “friends” doing “stuff.” A few Memorial Day tributes. A few news items from one ex-student whose reposts always seem to end up in my feed.

Apparently, though, there is a way to shake this up. In–ironically–this weekend’s Atlantic, Joe Pinsker describes his own experiment in unseating Facebook’s algorithm and basking in unfettered randomness. He describes how using tools like Noisify, he has been able to follow in the footsteps of hyper-randomizers like Max Hawkins, a man who has literally let randomizers dictate what he eats, where he shops…even where he lives! Pinsker ended up in Facebook groups on everything from dinosaur fans to rat breeding.

Recently a friend at work told me I should download the Reddit app. Tell it what you like, he said, and it will feed you items of interest. At the time, I kind of smiled and nodded, but some little voice inside was telling me that I didn’t want to have another app offering me more articles about Destiny and The Expanse (Jesus Christ, are those really my only interests?!?).

But maybe I will download it now.

I’ll try it out and tell it nothing. Maybe I’ll use a random number generator–a dice app–to dictate each day how many links to count down and then click. I will commit to diving down the rabbit hole and seeing what sort of weirdness I can get myself into. I will broaden my god-damned horizons!

But first let me check my clan’s forum–see if anyone’s online.

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