This is such a great thread and I’m loving the discussion here. This has been a huge sticking point in my soul over the last year. For whatever reason, I’ve just been trying to reinvent my Internet experience, mostly because a lot of the time I spent on it was getting to be pretty toxic and I wanted a change. I love the Internet for all that it can show me, but hate it for all the ways it gets me down.
One of the big ways I changed my Internet experience was to try to get away from big social media. I deleted my facebook and uninstalled reddit from my phone. Facebook because I was tired of seeing friends and family share far-right propaganda, and reddit because I felt the overall community there was kinda toxic and impersonal. On reddit, you’ll post something you’re proud of and because it’s exposed to potentially millions of people who generally don’t care about you as a person, responses were typically negative, or lukewarm at best (at least in my experience). People weren’t totally anonymous like, say, 4chan, but there was still this impersonal wall that I couldn’t get over. Now, some might say that that’s not a bad thing; you’re more likely to get completely unbiased feedback from a more impersonal audience… but the experience felt more like trying to interact with passersby on a street corner than to fellow members of a club or something like that, and it just didn’t jive with me. Plus, there’s lots of trolls and just plain assholes on reddit, no matter any amount of moderation. Bottom line, I felt worse off every time I browsed reddit.
So, I started to search out forums to join, maybe try to rekindle my Internet experience from 2000-2005 when I first started using it. I also became a lot more active on discord, because that sort of felt like hanging out in the chat rooms of yore. The thing I like about discord groups and forums is that the communities are smaller and more insulated. When you interact with a small group of people, the interactions become a bit more personal, so there’s less room for “trolls” and shit-posting.
I was very delighted to stumble upon this show and this forum because this place is exactly how I remember using the Internet back when I was in middle/high school and I really enjoy all the discussions I have with you fine folks and have felt I have made some real, personal connections with some of you, and I never ever got that from reddit. So, thanks everybody!!
In essence, my whole point here is, in my opinion, smaller collections of Internet communities are good, big giant corporate social media is bad. The only exception to this for me, for some stupid reason I’m trying to figure out, is Twitter. I never got it, ever, and just a couple months ago I signed up and now I’m on it all the darn time. Maybe it’s because of the way it curates my content? I generally avoid threads with thousands of replies and usually only partake in discussions where I know I’ll be able to personally connect with whoever I’m chatting with, not just throwing words out into the digital ether. I dunno, it’s weird.
As an aside, as far as my best Internet experience…. So, when I first joined forum communities back when I was 11 or 12, I hung out on this one particular Sonic fan forum. We were a very small, not well known community and we were real chums. That forum is now dead, but we have all banded together over the last 2 decades, going wherever the social media space would take us. I think we had a facebook group for a while, then we were on Slack, and now we have a discord that’s still very active. And it’s just like… 30 or 40 people max, around 20 are super active and we’ve all stuck together and watched each other grow up and live lives and we’re still very active with each other. I really cherish those folks and wonder if we’ll still be talking about Sonic the Hedgehog and stuff when we’re old and gray looooool.
Oh yeah, one thing I miss about the old days of the Internet was that you didn’t have a computer in your pocket that could access it at all times of the day and night. Accessing the Internet felt special and it was kinda cool logging into your favorite chat room at the same time as a friend, when being on the Internet wasn’t a given for everyone like it is now.