Ideas on how to be more concious online
First: I’m just some person ranting and rambling on the internet. Consider that before you think anything I say is anything resemlbing authority on the various questions that mean 42.
I think a lot about the internet. I think about it for work, I think about it for fun, and I think about it compulsively. I was born into the internet. I was raised by it, molded by it. Well, not really. A little before the internet, but still. And there are a lot of great things about the internet of today. The ability to make websites more accessible is fantastic. The sheer amount of sharing that can come of the interconnectedness of the world… all of it.
Some of my oldest, and most of my fondest, memories are based around tech. But they were from a simpler time when the internet was, somewhat out of necessity more mindful. I’m going to rant here about accessing the internet , navigating the internet, and our purpose in using the internet. Constantly Connected.
The early naughts brought us a pretty amazing fucking thing: broadband. To understand why this was a big deal let me take you through the internet I remember:
- Make sure no one is on the phone and the modem is plugged in.
- Make sure it’s in the free dialing hours because other wise it costs per minute…
- Open the dial-up connection software.
- Connect to the ISP.
- Browse to the websites you wanted to get stuff loaded from and start downloads.
- Browse the internet and chill.
- Disconnect from the internet and do stuff on your computer gasp offline.
This was pretty standard up until broadband happened. Broadband connections were the first widely available connections to individual consumers that provided “always-on” connectivity. No longer would you need to stare at the box waiting for your downloads, you could leave them on overnight. Your access wasn’t governed by the minute, but in bandwidth and download counts. This was hugely great at the tail end when the web was still the web.
In practice, what it gave was a constant window into our souls and lives by corporations who wanted to use that window to sell us things. They wanted to force you to have to pay for their service to continue playing the games you have purchased for your self. It was less than a few years, and even then only when about 20% of the population of the USA had access to reliable home broadband when Facebook and “The Feed"™ took over.
The F E E D™
Around this time Facebook came into existence and everything went to shit. (If you want to know more about Facebook and The Feed™read this). This is where my first pontification on how to exist on a shitty internet comes into play: Fucking disconnect. We weren’t always-on. Make your connection more mindful. Treat opening your browser and getting to a website on the internet like dialing -in to the ISP. Make an application that disconnects you from the internet after 5 minutes of inactivity, and before you can connect plays the dial-up sound (bonus if 1 in 100 times it times out and you have to redial or get a busy signal.) However you have to do it, make your choice to seek out the internet a more mindful one.
But wait, how do I get great stuff to read?! Easy: Browse the internet, dust off some hard-drive space and make local caches of websites. That’s what we used to do way back when. We’d browse a bunch of websites, and save the pages/pictures/whatever for later viewing offline. It was like having a little mini internet of our own locally.
This brings us to my second pontification: Pay some fucking attention. The internet is the tool you make of it. There is so much shit and garbage on the internet to be avoided. When we would save web pages we knew we were sacrificing our precious little hard-drive space for this content. We did not save any old thing. More importantly, we were time limited in our usage of the internet… We had to know where we were going or, more importantly, the paths and currents to get us to what we wanted. There was no Feed, there were no tailored search results. We “surfed” the web currents to what we wanted to read. Tools
A great character written by a shitty TERF once said: “Just because you’re of age doesn’t mean you need to whip your wands out for everything!” This is true of any tool people use. It’s very tempting to find uses for a new tool just because you have one. (This is also a great way to end up making an entire room in your house unusable for long periods… ahem) The internet is the same way.
That said, our misuse of this tool isn’t actually our fault: it was forced on us. The internet was a booming social place. Many if not most websites were run by small web-admins and individuals with passion, drive, and a desire to meet more people who liked the things they like. It’s no wonder when the promise of groups like that came along with social media we jumped . What we didn’t know yet, though, was that they were absorbing the truths of our lives, all of our datapoints, into their machine to know when to sell us a different underwear. Friend, we have been stolen.
This brings me to my third and final pontification for this ranting: Fucking Care. The worst thing we can do to them is care. About each other, about the world, about the environment, and about what the corporations are doing to fuck us left and right. When we care we have drive. When we care we pay attention. It is hard to keep an attentive populace complacent when they have drive to fix things. Use the internet with the purpose we had it originally: find and make communities. Build care groups, and put info out there on the things you have knowledge and passion. Make the internet the tool of knowledge and sharing it should be.
Our purposes were always the same, but they were coopted in the worst ways. We have to take them back. Seize the means of production on the internet, host your own site. Run a tilde, join a tilde, be a pioneer in a frontier we were told was empty, but is brimming with potential hidden from us. The revolution is to bring about a society for all, and we need to make sure we bring the internet with us.