Anyone else noticed that today’s WWW is insufferable? I don’t specifically know when it turned, or why most users became jerks, but I’ll go ahead and guess about 2010. Making money off of content became more important than the content itself. This is a long post, but in short, the best way to fix it is to write good stuff and to be nice to other people. As the WWW was intended.
In the past, we got to enjoy content-rich websites created by people from all walks of life. They built and hosted their websites and networked with others to share their stuff, and it worked. Internet = interconnected. We learned from others, and we benefitted from other’s unique knowledge. Nowadays, there are advertisements everywhere, clickbait headlines as well as the tracking and selling of your private data and browsing habits. Where did all that good stuff go? To Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. etc.
Content creators, webmasters, and anyone with a hobby blog generally gave up and went the easy route of 180 character tweets and generic posts about what they ate and where on Facebook. Boring. People used to write, or photograph, or paint stuff that others would want to read. People used to write blogs, whether they were read or not, no one knew. Aficionados of every imaginable topic would research and post their findings for all to see.
When the tech conglomerates started to gather and consolidate web properties, the content was squeezed out. These platforms were nicknamed Web 2.0 as if version 1 needed upgrading. Version 2 was not an upgrade in my mind, in fact, it made the internet worse.
Ad-driven content became a thing. You had to pay to play. The more eyeballs and attention on your stuff can be monetized to the widest possible audience. The internet became deceptive and, oddly, less social. Users became mean and divisive because now there was perceived competition.
It is almost impossible to find good content on the WWW now. Type a topic of interest on a conglomerate-ran browser, and you’ll have to sort through at least two pages of the search to get to anything that isn’t ad-driven and would be relevant to your search.
When you do come across an interesting link, you are bombarded with sneaky and not so sneaky tactics to get your attention and your data. Web windows will pop up blocking the content, asking you to submit your personal info and subscribe. Pleas to purchase something that is offered. Advertisements litter the site with most, overwhelming the content you want to see. “Like me on Facebook”, Comment! Subscribe! Retweet! That is just what we see, but goes unseen is the amount of personal data that is collected and distributed to the tech conglomerates. Did you do a search on a medical symptom? Well now, the next website you visit will have a pop-up advertisement on a specific cream to help remedy that. It’s disgusting, invasive, and intolerable.
Where are people writing now instead of their own homegrown webpage? Social media. If you write on Facebook or post images to Instagram, the only people who can see it our the users on the platform. Have a business and your “website” is only a Facebook business page? Half of your potential customers cannot see it unless they are a Facebook user. No, thanks. Instead, people are writing out their limited thoughts on a limited platform that does nothing to further a conversation. That is, if you can actually see it on the FB platform. Facebook’s algorithm guarantees your content will be buried in favor of something they claim is more interesting (read that as attention-getting and therefore more potential ad revenue for them.)
I won’t continue on about how the political and social media outlets combined are divisive and spiteful. I stopped both after the 2016 election, and I am blissfully ignorant.
All this wasted time, effort, content, and energy spent on these proprietary platforms do nothing for the individual except to make themselves money.
What’s the fix?
Create your own website. WordPress has free (with ads) hosting options as a start. Or you can use WordPress on your own hosted site. Web hosts and your domain name makes it yours and on the cheap.
Write or post anything you’d like. It’s yours to do with as you please.
Network. Reach out to other like-minded people and build each other up.
If you must use social media, put your content on your site first, then distribute to those outlets. Add a link back to your website and point potential followers there instead. POSSE: “Post On Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.”
Send the website owner an encouraging email.
Comment on a post of theirs.
Subscribe to their RSS feed and don’t miss a thing.
Use ad-blockers, browsers that promote privacy and mean it, and a VPN.
And finally, make good content to share for anyone who may take an interest and be nice to others.