Neil Macy

My Internet Usage With Poor Connectivity

I recently moved home and haven't had fibre connected yet, so I'm exclusively using my phone service for the Internet.

Which sucks, because it's an old house with terrible signal. There are patches where I get a reasonable connection, some where I get a very slow one, and lots of dead zones.

Slow Internet is definitely worse than no Internet. I can spend a LOT of time staring at my phone screen waiting for something to load. If I didn't have the hope of a connection, I'd use my time a lot more effectively than waiting for a loading screen to disappear!

How Am I Internetting Now?

But it's been interesting to step back and see how my web use has changed with less immediate access. With a normal connection, I'd usually open Ivory to check Mastodon, and Reeder to check RSS feeds. With an unreliable one, I haven't opened Ivory in days. I (subconsciously) prioritise spending a bit of time waiting for Reeder to sync, then fall back to the Kindle app to read a book instead.

With less immediate access to information, I'm preferring longer-form reading. That may be because my book is immediately available offline, so I don't have to wait around to see if I get a quick enough connection to sync, but it's also quite enjoyable.

And when I do browse, I think it's telling that I would rather refresh RSS feeds than Mastodon. That's my priority now. At the time of writing, I haven't checked Mastodon at all for 2 days and I don't miss it at all. I spend so much time waiting for Reeder to sync that I don't get round to thinking about Mastodon! But in recent years I would definitely have gone the other way; waiting ages for Tweetbot to refresh my Twitter timeline rather than reading RSS or a book.

Why Am I Reading More And Doomscrolling Less?

I think there are a couple of elements to this. The first is that I'm just enjoying reading more in the last few weeks, so I may well have gone to the Kindle app more often anyway.

But the other is that I'm enjoying reading blogs with an RSS reader again. There's much more of a conscious choice involved, rather than just doomscrolling through a feed. I quite like that I'm reading things in a random order of my own choosing, rather than a strict chronological timeline or an algorithmic timeline that's configured to keep me hooked.

And I like getting to read a slightly longer thought than can be fit into a tweet or a toot. It lets people reason more, fill in context. I've subscribed to a lot of personal blogs recently, and I really like the format compared to microblogging.

Subscribing via RSS also allows for other types of writing; for example, one of the feeds I'm subscribed to is Matt Gemmell's RSS feed, which contains a short story every Monday. Not a tech hot take, just some enjoyable fiction.

I like this approach to using the Internet, although I'm interested to see how it changes when I have a reliable connection again, having experienced this.

Published on 10 January 2023