i first joined the internet back in the great heyday that was 2017 — many years after GeoCities, after independent forums, and after the "old internet" had long since been replaced by the modern way of things. until very recently, i didn't know what an internet that wasn't controlled by massive companies might look like. i had no idea what i was missing out on! only now have i started to extract myself from social media as a concept and practice, and in this process, i discovered NeoCities. i'm having a grand time building my own site and making new friends in this deeply individual part of the internet, and i already feel like i've succeeded in disengaging from the unhealthier, more addictive options... but i still feel like they've made their mark on the way i function.

i'm forever furious that modern social media built their platforms around mass psychological engineering, and managed to get away with it. they still get away with it. manipulating the user to stay online as long as possible in ways that have been disastrous for users like me: the introduction of an algorithm to provide a constant stream of content relevant to the user's interests — and more recently, the invasion of short-form video content across every possible app (YouTube Shorts, Tumblr Live, even Spotify!!)

i was one of so many unsuspecting users that signed up to use these apps, and ended up in a vicious cycle of seeking the next "content" to consume. i briefly had Instagram installed on my phone, and during that time, i was losing hours to the black hole that was Reels — an unavoidable barrage of clips that appealed to my need for new things to look at. even now that the more pervasive apps have been deleted from my phone (which, don't get me wrong, has greatly improved how much time I spend scrolling) i still habitually pick it up every few minutes, looking at feeds that were designed to keep my interest, even when i have no need for the information i'm being fed. i feel less engaged with what’s happening around me in the real world. i feel disatisfied when i'm alone with my own thoughts.

these are my subjective experiences, but i think i have enough reason to treat these as common concerns in some form. social media “cleanses”, jokes about accidentally spending hours on TikTok, and on and on.... we know these things are bad for us, but we can’t do anything about them (while preserving all the online connections social media allows us to make).

i don't really know what else to do from here, other than to continue rejecting the structures that seek to take advantage of individuals as manipulatable products, instead embracing the ones that make me feel conscious, mindful, and in control. above all, the internet is supposed to be a way to make meaningful connections with people. that's what i hope to prioritize as i build this website, as well as honoring the things i create and enjoy, and re-learning how to dedicate time to the hobbies that are important to me. i hope that's the sense you get from visiting. it's a joy to have you here — thanks for stopping by :) — 7