I remember a time, a decade ago, when the Internet was fun. It was an open, collaborative place where you could find interesting articles and links, follow your friends, find a few laughs, and get a real sense of connection. It’s amazing what the passage of time can do, even a relatively short passage of time. Today, the Internet has become four or five main websites. Those sites are essentially ads, spyware, spam, and garbage.
Late in March, partially due to the unmasking of Facebook, partially due to my declining usage, and mostly because I now have an alternative, I closed my Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter accounts. In the coming days, those profiles will return to dust, the content no longer accessible.
Foolish? Maybe. I fully recognize what I’m giving up. Facebook, in particular, has branched out from a simple way to connect to your friends to a juggernaut of offerings. Groups, messages, businesses, it does it all. But, at what great cost? Will they be able to continue on this scale for another decade? History tells us no. They’re too big to succeed.
If you look at your timeline or newsfeed, and compare it to the personal and interesting updates that used to fill those spaces, you may become despondent. Facebook has become a ghost town for personal updates and a boomtown for multi-level marketing and advertisements.
There’s something very powerful about the concept of a social network. Connecting people across the street, across town, and across the world. Growing up as a military kid, I lost well beyond 99.9% of the friendships every time that we moved. A social network can prevent that loss. The problem comes when these networks have revenue targets to hit and shareholders to please.
I have my alternative. I’ve set up a blog on my own domain name, fully backed up on my computer, and completely portable. If my current host goes out of business, I’ll simply move my content somewhere else. You could do the same with a simple WordPress site. I read news and interesting blogs via an RSS reader, a simple open Internet technology that pulls all of the content into an app. I’m the curator of my own news, pulling in from my favorite sources and companies. I’ve also begun a return to email, sending personal messages to friends and family, at a rate of one per day.
There’s a better Internet out here.