I don't think it would be controversial to suggest social media has failed to be a space for connecting with people, at least on average.
Of course, it's not like we should expect spaces owned by profit-driven corporations to achieve the goals they claim to be striving for, but I digress. For much of the COVID
pandemic I have found myself grappling with this, as social media has been practically the only way to try to connect with others, outside of directly calling or texting people.
For someone whose default tendency is to avoid social interaction, this simply resulted in very little social interaction at all. So, when I found myself having a desire for social
interaction I found myself doing one of two things:
I reached out to a friend and scheduled some time to actually call them.
I mindlessly browsed social media, or dating apps.
Now, I'm sure many will guess (1) here turned out very well and good, but (2) turned out quite bad. Congratulations, either I am predictable or you are clairvoyant. However, the slight asterisk to this, is that I found
(1) quite effortful. Now, effortful is not necessarily bad, but many times it can be exhausting, which leads me to doing it less often. (2) is effortless, and addictive, but in nearly all cases useless or detrimental,
at least I have found it to be recently (I am not here to critique others use of social media if it does in fact serve them well).
So, with the new year and giving myself some time to reflect on these habits, I have decided that cutting down on (2) is a good start. Deleting the apps off my phone, installing browser extensions to limit the time
on the sites, and so forth. But cutting out social media still leaves the question: what would I want internet socializing to look like? After all, we're still in a pandemic so digital socializing is the most responsible route
available. And, I truly do love the internet, especially the parts of the internet that aren't so commercialized...
This reflection coincided well with stumbling upon the website and article of an internet user going by the name InvisibleUp.
I highly encourage anyone reading this to both read the article I linked, as well as just meander through their webpage. Their website is very remniscient of early-2000s websites. To be honest,
I haven't seen this type of webpage outside of an ironic setting in awhile. This reminds me of the weird internet I fell in love with as a kid.
Now, the critic that also happens to live in my skull would be quick to dismiss this as pure nostalgia. I choose to believe it is more than that. Going through InvisibleUp's page, I feel a connection
that I do not feel on most of the internet. Their webpage has personality. And I found reading their articles more engaging because of that personality. Even if it's superficial, I felt some degree
of connection to the individual writing the article because the article existed in their space.
Now, compare that to a plethora of modern internet experiences. Reddit, Medium, Facebook, Instagram, etc. a comparable post could surely exist, but the entirety of the post's worth would come down
purely to the content. Now, that framework is valuable in some contexts (e.g. academia, some debate, etc.), but in socializing the value isn't solely in the content of what the other person is saying, it's
in the person saying it. And I think I get a much better feeling for the person behind the content on a weird old school HTML website than on some squeaky clean Web 2.0 amalgamation of 3rd party APIs.
So, I am putting this blog out there to be my own weird HTML/CSS thought dump. And if any of it connects with you, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. some content will be password protected. You can brute force or otherwise crack it if you really want, it's not hard encryption. I might implement a real encryption scheme eventually.
Password: Hint: two words, animal