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How to Divorce a Website

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Have you ever realised that although you have been reading the same website for years, it has become stale and no longer amuses, educates, or informs you? Do you ever get the feeling that the writers of a particular blog no longer care about you as a reader, but just about the pageviews that your eyeballs bring? If you get fed up enough you might think that you’ll never read a particular website again. But abstinence may not be as easy as you think.

I do most of my reading through RSS feeds; every post on the websites I subscribe to is automatically delivered to me. In fact, I am such an RSS junkie that I even have tools set up to get the full feed from those sites that limit their feeds to an introductory paragraph. Unsubscribing is the easy part; the hard part is not visiting the website itself in order to check up on what I might be missing out on.

Next up is to cut off your supply to what is essentially your internet crack. Blocking certain websites is fairly easy to do from your browser; just activate the parental controls. Yes, I realise that it can feel infantalising to place an internet control on yourself, but you are trying to quit a bad habit after all. Get those controls in place and don’t, whatever you do, give in to the temptation to unblock a website just because you know the master password. Your sanity will thank you for it.

If you are a massive fan of the website in question (like I was), there will also be residual housekeeping to take care of. Remove them from your Twitter, from your Facebook “likes,” from your LinkedIn pages. It really is like breaking up with a person. Just get rid of any reminders of their existence. Losing a regular website, for me, is like losing a boyfriend: the love is there, but I know that we shouldn’t be together any more.You can always hope that one day they will see the error of their ways, but while they are behaving like the worst sort of idiot, it’s best to step away.

Finally, there is your revenge. That’s right: you find a different blog or website to read. Ironically, this is rather easy, as many blogs have a blogroll where they showcase blogs and websites in the same niche that they think are worthy of your attention, and that hew relatively closely to their own values. So while you may not be a radical environmentalist, you can still read other environmentalist blogs. And while I no longer go in for “lipstick feminism,” I can still read around the topic of feminism without being assaulted by what I now consider to be a bad-faith blog.

People and websites change. At some point, you may outgrow a website, blog or forum that you have previously felt comfortable with. I have. But I consider myself lucky in that I have always found somewhere else to go, somewhere I have felt safe and welcome. The internet is a large space. I’m pleased there is still enough room for me in it.

[Image by jcoterhais]


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