Riley Rates: social media alternatives


Photo courtesy Riley Jordan

Despite his neutral expression, the social media website that Riley browses fails to amuse him as it once did.

Tired of endless bad news on Twitter? The echo-chamber of Facebook? TikToks that are just screenshots of tweets with someone’s head in the way? It was when I found myself looking at an Instagram post of a screenshot of a comment on a Reddit post that the thought crossed my mind: what am I doing with my life? Even though the internet has given us limitless information to absorb, we willingly throw away hours of the day to view the same recycled content that will grab our attention just enough to make us forget why we woke up in the first place. So how can we make better use of our time? Why, look to the Riley Rates five-star-system of course! Through complex analysis I have determined the best ways for us to fill the time that we used to make for mindless browsing. Look no further than my opinions on the following ideas to make the best possible use of your personal entertainment time. 

Movies, shows and YouTube videos

I know what you’re thinking about this category: what, so I just replace screen time with more screen time? Yes, that’s exactly what you should do. There are a variety of great movies and shows waiting to be watched online, and in the age of the internet they are just a few clicks away. You might find yourself feeling empty inside after a two-hour visit to Twitter, but a great two-hour movie will make you laugh, cry, feel completely disgusted and horrified (if that’s the type of movie you want to watch, I guess) or teach you about the intricacies of Italian-American mob operations (which there are a lot of). YouTube can teach you so many skills for free, as well.

But Riley, you say. The current exclusivity of programs on streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus forces me to pay for a lot of different monthly subscriptions. Doesn’t the oligarchy of tech companies withholding and trading the rights to popular media actually lead consumers to resort to piracy? Wouldn’t it just be better to pirate everything that I want to watch? Woah woah woah there, I didn’t say that, and I definitely shouldn’t in a student publication such as this one. I’m pretty sure you’d need to find an illegal website with a lot of pirated content on it in order to do that, at least that’s what I think, I wouldn’t know at all. Where was I going with this? 

Anyway, three stars.

Music and podcasts

Looking to get away from the screen? Music and podcasts make doing daily activities fun. Bored while washing dishes? Podcast hosts like Hamish and Andy will make you laugh! Too tired to exercise? Kanye will whip you into shape! Dad dropping you off at school? You are now listening to All Things Considered with NPR’s Ailsa Chang. Music and podcasts are super convenient and don’t require your focused attention all the time, making them easy to work into your life. Three stars.


If you’re highly disillusioned with social media, books may provide the mental clarity you desire. Not only will a good book take you into another world and teach you a lot, but talking about reading is the most effective (while still humble) way to let everyone know how smart, sophisticated and in-control of your life you are. The only problem is that reading books requires a certain degree of mental effort that could take some getting used to if you haven’t read in a while. However, that’s what makes them so engrossing. Four stars.


Okay, if you’re still here you must  hate it online. Sure, social media may tell you what everyone else is thinking, but do you even know yourself? Meditation will calm your body, clear your mind’s fog and facilitate self-love. Plus, it’s free. In the eternal search for connectedness, we have lost connection to ourselves. Become the person you want to become with meditation. Four stars. 

Become Amish

Have you ever found yourself in southeast Pennsylvania driving past a horse-drawn carriage and thinking to yourself, wow, I sure would hate to travel that slowly. “Hey guys!” you say jokingly. “What kind of drive are they getting out of that thing? One horsepower?” As your friends in the backseat nearly convulse from laughter at your quick wit (one of your best features) a wave of emptiness and shame envelops you. Sure, they may be slow on the road, you think. But am I actually going anywhere that they aren’t? Are we not merely hollow vessels, moving from pointless attraction to pointless attraction just to distract ourselves from the cruel, eternal cycle of existence? Yes, my life may involve fast cars and planes, expensive screens with internet, but neither the Amish nor I can escape the inevitable finale of all life, absolute death. Therefore, by actively avoiding all illusions of power and global connection, are the Amish not better adjusted for the facade of modernity to someday come crashing down? 

No? Yeah, uh, me neither. But if becoming Amish sounds like a better alternative to Twitter, then definitely check them out. Five stars.