Net Survival Advice
November 17, 2020 at 4:05 PM
The internet today is nothing like it was when I was really getting started with it in what could be considered the height of the golden era... that is, the years 2006 to 2009. I'm not going to say it was 100% glamorous, given I had the dishonor of experiencing one of the most toxic ends of the YouTube community when I was first making videos for the site. Still, the philosophies of most websites back then were much more respectful to your time and the long-term value of user-generated content.
Modern YouTube and similar giants are now optimized for getting your attention as much as possible with zero regard to what you could be doing instead. Everything's structured in a way where you are to be constantly bombarded with a bunch of things to click on to waste more time on their site, and anything posted is often to be forgotten until someone with a vendetta against a significant channel spends weeks glued to the screen trying to find dirt to bring to the surface and terminate that creator's career.
What significance does something someone said eight years ago have when so many people are constantly engaged in pointless internet fights, anyway? It depends on the context around the cancellation, but usually it is not worth making tangents about. Make no mistake, this stuff has been going around for decades. The only real difference now is that it's been streamlined into a linear, disorganized mess designed to overwhelm and destroy you as an individual.
The modern day internet is like fugu neurotoxin; as a dolphin, you could probably get away with taking some in for immediate pleasure, but too much is a surefire killer. I wish to provide you with some tips on how you can make your online experience more tolerable, as well as what you can do to help restore the good parts of the internet that have been forgotten.
Avoid Social Media!
The first rule of net survival should explain itself, but if it doesn't, I can try to explain why this is so important... now, I've never used MySpace unfortunately, but I did know about it in its peak relevance and have heard about how great it was for some people over the years. I'm not here to concern myself with old school social networks and their freedom of customizability, though. When I say "social media", assume Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like.
So, when you make enough "friends" or follow enough users, social networks create a bottomless well of a bunch of disposable posts that you may never be able to keep up with. Tell me, how many of the accounts you follow do you genuinely care about? Go check their profiles; there's probably a ton of content you've missed because it was washed out by tons of updates regarding giveaways you'll never win, celebrities doing trivial things, outrage over a thing that will be impossible to recall next month, and discussion regarding the newest dumb thing said by Karate Farter.
If for some reason you really do need a social media outlet, clean up your list of followed users. Cut out those who post too frequently or tear apart your mind. Do also be courteous to your followers; do not repost excessively, and make your posts concise. Also remain wary if something nasty brews up in the community that tempts you to throw something into the fire. There could be something to it that isn't being made obvious enough, or all the outrage may be horribly misdirected.
Furthermore, even if you must continue to cling onto social media, make continuous efforts to detach yourself from it. Stop using it so frequently, and train yourself to resist clickbait. You are more important than what you follow, and there is definitely something productive you can do in your free time... make room for your mind to find that thing.
One of the things I've noticed with certain websites is that they have ditched the concept of an "inbox" in favor of a notification bell that may either be so damn annoying or your only source of dopamine depending on where you're at. You get notified of activity somewhere, you feel something different, and then you forget about it. Using the obnoxious bottomless well design modern websites are notorious for, it becomes all too easy for some specific activity which really mattered to you, such as a great reply, to be extraordinarily difficult to recall.
Get this: the real purpose of modern notifications are not to let you know someone has taken interest in what you've published. They are to drag you back into the same website you spent mere seconds away from. That's why push notifications were developed; a noise is blasted through your speakers or headphones, and a banner pops up on your screen tempting you to go check what just came up. DO NOT USE PUSH NOTIFICATIONS. What you need to do most of all is allow yourself to work on something of your own merit in peace.
Wherever applicable, disable notification sounds. The only event-triggered sounds that are pleasant to the overall experience of a program are the kinds you can anticipate in response to actions you have taken, not what other people have sent you. They also need to not sound like they come from a polluted aquarium. What I basically mean by this is that only things centered around the Utopia sound scheme are healthy, like a question dialog box that appears after you click something that requires confirmation.
Make Websites, Not Accounts
In the case of video sharing, making your own website is not that easy since you have to take potentially heavy bandwidth costs into account, but say you really want a portion of the internet dedicated to sharing your own activity. Facebook and Twitter have been touted as the most important ways to go about dumping your mind, but all they really are most of the time are just inline text and images... stuff that many browsers have been highly capable of doing since 1994 or 1995. Even in 2006 when videos were still commonly downloaded rather than streamed in painfully low bitrates, I sure didn't mind waiting for a video to download before watching it.
In that regard, social media is actually quite easy to crush. Even if you can't afford a domain name or a VPS, there are plenty of free services out there that let you create your own websites. Go ahead, try it! HTML isn't that complicated if you don't bother with the bloated version 5. You'll find you have much, much more creative freedom on a website you make yourself as opposed to a social network that puts you in a leglock. Tell your friends about your new website wherever you can, and definitely look into implementing RSS so they can be automatically notified of updates to your space.
RSS has been around for a long time, but many people like to brag about how "dead" it is these days. They are full of shit; RSS is alive and well, and an open standard which is very easy to implement. Seriously, it's just an XML file that you can add somewhere on your website and supply a link to! You can use Razorback's own RSS file as a reference for creating your own RSS feed on your site.
The internet is an invaluable tool that anyone can take part in, but so many people have forgotten that taking part in it can mean much more than signing up for an account on a giant website. As long as you maintain control of your online activity, being sure to weaken social media giants as much as possible, you will thrive on the net.
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