Years ago, when Shawn and I were still podcasting together, we had a few shows where we talked about my insane RSS feed subscriptions. At one point I remember the subscribed count reaching close to 700 feeds for me. Thousands of posts came through every day and I went through them all. Shawn would tell me it was nuts to have that many. He would tell me he had less than 200 or maybe 100 feeds. I would think he was nuts — and that was basically the gist of every episode we recorded.
Recently, I was in a chat with Justin Blanton when he said that he was “completionist” meaning he didn’t want to miss a single thing in whatever thing it was that he did. Whether that was RSS or Twitter, and I chimed in agreeing that this is very much how I work and how I feel.
This mentality is why I had so many RSS feeds. I just could not bring myself to being ok with the idea that I might miss a post on some blog somewhere. Over the years I have worked hard to trim that list down, but it has been work to do so. I only see hundreds of RSS items these days, a marked improvement, but still too many. Everyday I unsubscribe to another site because I realize I just don’t care to see every piece of content from that particular site.
I do the same with Twitter too, through unfollowing and muting people, but I wish I could be more aggressive.
This is hard.
I often have days where I wish that someone would accidentally delete my following list on Twitter and also happen to, coincidentally, delete my RSS subscription list s well. I wonder if that happened, if I would miss them?
If that happens, who would I follow and subscribe to again?
Would I feel like I was missing things?
There are people who do this all the time, it’s certainly nothing new. But I don’t know a single person who is a completionist like I am, or like Justin is, who does this. I feel like it would have to be all or nothing for me. Either I unfollow and unsubscribe to it all, or I leave things as they are.
I don’t think I can have a happy medium here.
Sometimes people ask me, or wonder, why and how I can keep testing the same types of things over and over. So many pocket knives, weather apps, content blockers, backpacks. How can I care that much to keep testing all these things? This confounds people who don’t have this completionist type of mindset.
And what they don’t understand is that it is not just about caring for these things. It is also very much about my very nature. If I know there is another thing out there, which I have yet to try, I want to try it just so I know.
Which is awfully expensive.
I could decide to only subscribe to 50 RSS feeds, or to only try out the three top things I find in a given category. I could do that. It’s well within my abilities to do this.
Yet at the same time I really cannot do this. Because it would be ignoring a part of who I am. I spent time picking out my yard rakes, not trying 50 different brands, but by inspecting the ones available at the hardware store. I spent time thinking about everything I purchase.
I spend more time on somethings, but on a whole far more time than most people I see buying things.
So to stop spending that time at all is absurd to me. I cannot begin to understand how a person can move through life not caring about the bag they carry. The desk they work at. The pocket knife they use. The keyboard they type on.
It is completely outside of my realm of comprehension to understand the people who don’t care. Just as it is out of the realm of comprehension for people who don’t care (as much) to understand why I need to see every tweet.
This is not to be confused with compulsion either, because that is something different. I don’t have to check my RSS feed ever again. I can sit here and not look at it and be fine with that. But if I do check it, I need to read everything in there. I could take a year off, but if I were to pick it back up again, then I want to see everything I missed from the day I stopped checking.
Which is why it is so hard for me to pare down my RSS feeds. Because even if I made it down to 50, that would last for just a day before I start adding in new sites I find, or old ones I find again. Once I decide that I am using a tool like RSS, by god I am going to use that tool and to ask me to limit these things doesn’t make sense to me.
It also isn’t scalable to not limit these things.
Which is why I need a technical glitch to wipe out my RSS feeds, effectively hitting reset for me. Because I cannot pare it down any more, and I really want to. I need the same thing for Twitter as the problem exists there.
I am perfectly content, once I know that I have looked at all my unread things in life.