How RSS revealed to me my own insanity

Changing my consumption method from regular blog-scanning to RSS had done some weird things to me. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a bit, since I’ve been on RSS for a monthish now and have fully gotten used to it, but I’m only getting here now.

I’ve got about about fifty different blogs fed through Google Reader now. And if I don’t get through them by the end of the day, I feel like I’ve failed to pass in an assignment or forgot to call someone back or something. It’s ridiculous. I would get the same feeling when I didn’t read my favorite sites for a while before I was on RSS. When I did my bike trip in New Zealand, which was fantastic and way better than sitting in front of a computer screen and tearing my hair out about America’s shitty political process, I didn’t read anything for ten days. When I came back and visited a few of my favorite sites, I felt like I’d been away for five years. Part of that stems from the incredibly frenetic pace of the blogosphere, where if you fall off for a day or two, all the inside jokes will have changed and you’ll have to go searching for Bobo’s latest episode of blithering idiocy before you can laugh with everyone else.

But there was never any numerical value attached to my absence. The first day where I woke up and saw that I had about 100 unread posts in my RSS feed, I felt like I’d failed. Which is silly and puzzling and frighteningly pathological all at the same time. But that genuinely is the feeling that I get when I see the numbers climbing up. Of course, I’ve had days where I didn’t have time to read anything, let alone everything, that piled up, so I just deleted it all at the end of the day. The world didn’t end. I didn’t suffer crushing amnesia and forget everything I’d ever learned. The sun rose the next day, Republicans still battled to secure tax cuts for the rich while not giving a shit about anything else and I had lunch. That was about it.

And yet, every time I don’t get through my reading, I still feel bad about it. Very strange.

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