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Why I'm growing tired of Social Media (and how to fix it)

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Illustration of various social network logos stuck in a trash can

The endless humblebrags, countless lists of "ways to go viral," and "look at me" selfies are overwhelming. They're drowning out the genuine insight, anecdotes and rambling musings I loved.

It speaks to a broader issue with the Internet: much of the fun has gone out of it. I don't know what's causing it. Maybe SEO dragged us down to a common bland denominator. Perhaps a fear of being canceled forces us to take the edge off our thoughts. Did the 2 lines of a status update we get to see before clicking "read more" make us scared to say what we really think?

I've read a few pieces of late heading in the same direction. One lamented the rise of "ADHD Capitalism," where the self-diagnosed listen intently to self-proclaimed influencers. Nuanced discussion and community were distilled into a 15-second TikTok. Professional help bypassed. The same could be said of many current "trends" - from Tiny Houses to Remote Working.

Another pointed to the gradual thinning of the content landscape. Yes, more individuals post more, but it's coalescing around platforms like LinkedIn, Medium and Substack. They get to control what's seen with opaque algorithms and "personalization." The ballsy editor taking a punt on a new writer in their magazine no longer works because we don't buy magazines. We buy individuals, and the lack of diversity in viewpoints leads us to another bubble. The $10 we used to shell out for a couple of magazines each month now goes to one or two individuals pushing out the same content. Instead of a dozen features from a variety of writers, we get a weekly newsletter written by one.

Now Generative AI is added to the mix. Why even bother going to a website to read someone's article when you can create your own?

(That fact Generative AI needs people to keep creating to stay relevant is lost in the discussion.)

I don't know what the way back is. I hope someone will start another Wired (old-when-it-was-good Wired, not the current corporate dullfest). Or have a proper crack at a Mondo 2000. I would love to see Wallpaper go back to its roots.

Damn it, let's bring back the photocopied 'zine, stapled together and crammed in an envelope.

And yes, I have considered doing it myself.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction.

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