I am currently on a business trip and now that companies in the tech industry have discovered that frugality is a virtue, I spend my evenings in a modest hotel room instead of lavishly dining. I am not kidding — last year I semi-regularly ate in restaurants in which B-list celebrities and politicians hung out. While business travel sucks a lot more than it used to, those evenings also invite some reflections. Thus, I realized that when I flip open my laptop, I am not really inclined to use the Internet all that much anymore. In fact, I think that it is only getting less and less interesting to do so.
The first time I went online was in the mid-1990s, which was comparatively early for European standards. What I found most remarkable was that people online seemed a lot smarter than people you ran into in the real world. No matter what you were interested in, you could find an online newsgroups and have interesting conversations. If you were more interested in running your mouth, you could hop onto IRC, and shit-talk for a bit. I found this quite enjoyable. Back then, you had to pay for Internet access by the minute, which also meant that you would not be tempted to spend hours on it, in particular if you were a teenager who only got a bit of pocket money. Yet, I was looking forward to going online and engage in intellectual battles.
In those days, bandwidth was quite low, which meant that pictures, let alone videos, were less relevant. Text was the primary means of representing thoughts. However, as the Internet got faster, and more and more visual, the appeal to normies increased. I recall that even as early as 1998 I thought that the Internet was slowly going to shit. Instead of talking on newsgroups, people began curating their own little homepages, with basic and oftentimes very garish layouts. It also quickly became obvious that there were now a lot more people online. No longer did you end up exchanging contact details with some dude you liked talking to on IRC. Instead, there were just a bunch of user IDs and increasingly dumber opinions.
In the early 2000s, there was a big push towards Internet advertising. Flash made many websites pretty unusable. This was when the “world wide web” stared to really suck. It was also a time when I barely even went online anymore. I think I checked my email every few days in those years. Downloading music in the form of mp3s was really popular at that time, though, and that is something I also did, but more as a novelty. I only began using the Internet more actively again, and this may sound a bit strange, in the mid-to-late 2000s when I got interested in the topics discussed on some now-dead seduction forum called mASF. At that time, video compression algorithms also improved, which led to another evolution of the consumer-Internet, going from text to images to videos. By 2008, YouTube was already pretty big.
Obviously, I have spent quite some time writing online, and this is something I quite like. Yet, personal blogs, just like personal homepages, are definitely on the way out. Today, it seems that the main use cases for the Internet are Youtube, porn, and streaming Hollywood movies. Thus, it is all about video. There is not a single blog I read. I have no interest in online news either. My most frequented sites are KiwiFarms and YouTube, but the latter primarily for music. Even the Daily Stormer seems to be declining or perhaps the world has gotten so crazy that Andrew Anglin can no longer effectively satirize it.
With the exception of my blog, there is little I do online that would necessitate using a browser. Virtually all my consumption nowadays happens via Telegram. I also have a few people who send me links or memes via Telegram or WhatsApp. I do not know how effective ad-blocking on the Youtube app is. If it works well, then I could move this also to my phone. This would not make much sense, though, as I normally only listen to music when I work, write, or game.
It is also the case that governments are heavily involved in online censorship. There is virtually no free speech online anymore. I am sure that if my blog was bigger, it would also long have been suppressed. For now, Google and Amazon are happy with not letting me run ads or use affiliate links. This is probably also a a reason why there are much fewer privately-run blogs anymore. Everything has been sanitized. Sure, there is Substack, but if you spoke your mind, they would quickly tell you that your “hate speech” was not welcome here, even though your position would have been perfectly within the Overton window prior to 2016.
The way things are going, we will have a completely sanitized Internet in a few years, with perhaps a few renegade apps that you need to install on your Android phone via “sideloading”. The “darknet” may become more important. I already use Tor whenever a particular site gets suppressed again on the “clearnet”. This is probably not a bad solution if it was permanent because it meant that you would once again converse with an open-minded, highly-intelligent, and technically savvy crowd, just like in the early days of the Internet.