Social Media and the “Old Web”


Say that some “heroic hacker” manages to completely dismantle social media. All sites related to it. How much of the web gets taken down? And who do they tell about it? When the aspect of social media is so ingrained in our methods, it’s almost like losing a “natural” means to talk to cut ourselves out of it.

Social media is two things: Connections and profit. For once I’m going to look at the former instead of the latter. One can make friends and enemies at much more numerous and quicker rates than most in-person aspects, though the depth varies and also factors in one’s own personality. If one just “friends” everyone, it’s unlikely they made a deeper connection. If someone just blocks someone else over a comment of some kind, they’re not much of an enemy to that person, they just refuse to talk. Repeated incidents of this, however, might dig deeper.

As communication methods change, people tend to want to connect wherever possible in fear of losing all sight of someone they know. This could go from in-person to phone numbers, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others I barely know about. People’s phone numbers might change. They may decide to change their Twitter handle. They might even deactivate their Facebook for a while. I’m not exactly sure how the rest work. There are other ways, of course. Chat programs, for one. Skype for those who use it. Discord is increasingly common. Telegram exists, but I don’t want to bother with that since it insists on having a real phone number and I hate to just give that out, given I get way too many spam calls as it is.

Let’s say I have a Facebook page. I do, for now, though I don’t just give that out either. I hardly ever use it, but it still exists for two reasons that I can think of. One is to have a line to people I’ve known across time, even if I hardly ever talk to them anymore. The other is to say that the page is my own and aim to avoid impersonation that way. Regardless, I have considered deleting the whole thing entirely, not just deactivating. Facebook really doesn’t want someone to delete their account and hides the method in a way that pretty much requires a web search. After all, they profit from data, even if I’m not giving them a ton to work with.

I’ve also thought over getting rid of all of my other social media accounts, but haven’t really stuck to it. I still want to shrink my presence there, though. I want to focus more on making my own site, whatever the host, as long as I have control over what goes on there and how it looks to visitors, should they ever locate it. I could put longer form thought like this instead of attempting to spread it across tweets. They make it easier to just get the content out there without too much thought, though. With these posts, I write them up, paste them into a webpage, and then upload that. There would be another way to do it dynamically, of course, without just making another social media network. Something about JSON files, probably, or a similar approach.

Still, I like having control over my own content. Things can do things that I want them to. Maybe I’m just a bit nostalgic for the old “Wild West” approach of the early web, where everyone wanted to make something, they just needed a place to put it and maybe an investor willing to pay them and accept that they might not make any money from it. Now it’s just very monolithic, someone gets an account on a page and they put things on that page, and there’s some aggregator that pulls from all those pages and shows them what it thinks is important.

At the moment, I see a lot of attempts to climb to everyone’s feed, no matter what exploitative measures are taken. Morals can’t get in the way of fame, after all, so they think. And more often now than ever, it’s hitting them right back to ignore such things. But only temporarily, after all, a site can’t just drop its biggest cash cows, no matter what. The sites themselves still get to ignore morals, for now.

Then there’s a case like mine. I’m used to not being front and center. I’m fine with that. I just want to do whatever it is I do, and if someone finds that interesting, that’s nice. If I can somehow get to know people and be friends, that’s also good. I’ve never done any of this for the sake of profit. If I’m going to sell anything, I want it to be worthwhile. I don’t want to sell just myself. I see products as products and people as people. Whatever the case is for social media, I’m only there for reasons I keep forgetting. One has to keep their circles tight to try to keep their sanity in this time.

I do, at times, think about some force eradicating the majority of social media and making everyone either figure out HTML or stick to a site builder, and see what they feel like making their spaces like. Not just a MySpace, but their own space. Whatever links, whatever arrangements, changing every last bit to their standards, not conforming to a template entirely. They might present some very radical content. If they step over certain lines, possibly governments get involved, or maybe the web hosts. But that’s a risk inherent in any medium. Falsified and sensationalized information is still widely available in paper form, after all.