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kottke.org posts about Foster Kamer

Stop using Facebook and start using your browser

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 28, 2017

In “an open memo, to all marginally-smart people/consumers of internet ‘content’”, Foster Kamer has a small suggestion to those who care about the health and diversity of online media: stop reading what Facebook tells you to read and use your browser bar (or bookmarks) instead.

Literally, all you need to do: Type in web addresses. Use autofill! Or even: Google the website you want to go to, and go to it. Then bookmark it. Then go back every now and again.

Instead of reading stories that get to you because they’re popular, or just happen to be in your feed at that moment, you’ll read stories that get to you because you chose to go to them. Sounds simple, and insignificant, and almost too easy, right?

It’s only easy, and simple to do. As for why you should do it: It’s definitely not simple, nor insignificant. By choosing to be a reader of websites whose voices and ideas you’re fundamentally interested in and care about, you’re taking control.

And by doing that, you’ll chip away at the incentive publishers have to create headlines and stories weaponized for the purpose of sharing on social media. You’ll be stripping away at the motivation for websites everywhere (including this one) to make dumb hollow mindgarbage. At the same time, you’ll increase the incentive for these websites to be (if nothing else) more consistent and less desperate for your attention.

*head nodding vigorously* I mean, it’s a complicated situation. Facebook and Twitter are easily the best news/blog reading platforms ever invented, better than any RSS reader for most people. By putting most of the web’s information all in one place, they offer incredible speed and convenience, which is hard for people to ignore. I made this point in a footnote this morning: using Facebook instead of just bookmarks is compelling in the same way that shopping at Walmart instead of small-town shops was in the 80s. We blame Walmart for decimating small businesses, but ultimately, small town shoppers chose convenience and lower prices over the more local and diverse offerings from their neighbors. And for the past several years, readers have been doing the same thing in favoring Facebook. What Kamer is arguing is that readers who value good journalism, good writing, and diverse viewpoints need to push back against the likes of the increasingly powerful and monolithic Facebook…and visiting individual websites is one way to do that.