Feedly. Blogtrottr. The “Reader” pane in WordPress. I’ve disabled them all. Anything that feeds blog content to me automatically is gone. I am now checking the blogs I care about manually.
I did it after I heard Cal Newport recommend it in this interview with Ezra Klein. He included RSS in a list of things he’s given up because they are distractions. Not that the blogs are distractions, but that the technology to automatically feed them to you is. RSS is one more thing we permit to intrude upon our attention.
There is a peripheral benefit to this. Winnowing the number of blogs I’m paying attention to by ditching RSS means that, if I’m reading you, it is because I actually like reading you. I’m choosing to over and over again. I didn’t just choose to once. I’m repeatedly choosing to.
It feels self-defeating for a blogger to endorse the idea of ditching blog subscriptions, and on one level it is; fewer people will show up in your reader stats. But I think writers who care about what they’re doing will trade a small engaged audience for a large casual one any day.
So, for now, I’m navigating directly to The Traveling Theologian, A Church For Starving Artists, Faith And Wonder, Smuggling Grace, Mihee Kim-Kort, Glass Overflowing, The Crafty Beaver, Seth Godin, Wonderblog, and, of course, Cal Newport.