Leaving Twitter behind left me a lot of time to be more intentional with how I spend my online attention. In the quiet created from shutting off the firehose of nonsense and bile, I turned to the longread, articles and blogs with much more substance and depth, and my time has felt much better spent for it.
After attending a social media conference a few weeks back, I was both excited and saddened by what I experienced. There was a lot of positive information, inspiring thinkers talking about the next wave of interaction.
There were also a lot of ads. And a lot (A LOT) of focus on how to keep eyeballs on your ad the longest.
Even the creator of the World Wide Web itself has turned against the ad-supported, centralized internet we have now.
“We demonstrated that the Web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done, and failed in many places,” … The increasing centralization of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee says, has “ended up producing—with no deliberate action of the people who designed the platform—a large-scale emergent phenomenon which is anti-human.”
It’s hard to imagine that the current status quo is temporary. Everything changes, and the internet doubly so. Joe Veix wrote an excellent longread on visiting the deserted landscape of Second Life.
“I typed a message: hi.
A minute later she responded: why are you messging me
I left the area.”
Veix cautions about getting too integrated with any site because ultimately you are giving control to someone else.
“Our digital spaces can suddenly be destroyed or altered in disturbing ways without our consent. Why don’t we have control over them? Why can’t we? Always remember: Facebook and Instagram and Twitter are malls, not parks.”
Helena Fitzgerald had a similar experience with Snapchat, a platform which she sees collapsing and contracting before her eyes. She is finding more joy in the much smaller, less ‘important’ world of Snapchat than she ever did when it ‘mattered.’
“Perhaps more than anything else, what has sucked all of the joy out of the social internet in its current form is its exhortation to be useful. We have arrived at a version where everything seems to be just another version of LinkedIn. Every online space is supposed to get you a job or a partner or a stronger personal brand so you can accomplish the big, public-record goals of life. The public marketplace is everywhere. It’s an interactive and immersive CV, an archive. It all counts, and it all matters.”
Fitzgerald was having the same realization I was, the internet was more fun when it was less important. Because if it is Important, then you are in for a rude awakening when you find out no one wants to hear you.
Thanks for sticking around to the end of this medium-longread.