Sid Verma Unnecessary tautology is unnecessary

The internet kind of sucks now.

This is mostly a rant, over my increasing frustration with how the internet works nowadays. Maybe it’s just nostalgia with rose-colored glasses. I still want to shout this here in this void.

I wasn’t there during the early days of internet. The first time I went online, was probably in 2005. That’s only a little over a decade, but I remember it way too differently from what it is now. Now, it’s way too… homogenized is probably the right word.

Chat sucks the most. Probably the worst victim of the walled-garden approach. Things I have installed right now - Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, Threema, Hangouts, Slack, AndroIRC, Riot.

At some point last year, I got fed up and turned off notifications for all of these except Telegram on my phone. I still keep them installed, but everything is pull-based now, when someone asks me to look at something.

I am not new to being on loads of platforms. A decade ago, I used to have accounts on MSN and Yahoo messenger, Google talk, (even facebook too), IRC networks, and probably a dozen I can’t remember. But at some point, I found out about XMPP and pidgin, and how open protocols are such great things. mIRC used to be the hangout app, and pidgin the IM app. Any platform, ultimately boiled down to one of these. Then, one by one, almost everyone started killing off their XMPP gateways. They cited low volume, and lack of support for their exciting and new features. It’s always animated emojis or fucking stickers. Even slack shut down their IRC gateway earlier this year.

It’s on my To-do list to configure bitlbee and libpurple and put everything on libpurple.

Communities suck too. Everything is a facebook group and a subreddit now. Forums are ghost towns in comparison. Forums, which had basic to extremely detailed information, queries, all sorted and tagged, categorized. The forums dedicated to Lost and Doctor Who were way more fun than the show itself. You go to /r/startrek now, and you’re bombarded with memes, cosplay, news about the upcoming Discovery season, theories, past episode-appreciation posts, and general rants. Feel free to try to use the broken filter-by-flair. When you visited the phpBB forum for the same, there were so many subcategories, and years old active threads with lots of archived information. There’s one for artwork, one for theories, one for episode discussions, another for character discussion, another for fan-fiction. Karma fishing and reposts wasn’t even a problem.

I’m honestly surprised that XDA and DeviantArt, some of my oldest communities, have stuck around for so long.

And then there’re social networks. My friends, at the very least, don’t “share” things online anymore. Everything is a carefully worded, edited, instagram-filtered broadcast to the world. Nothing feels personal. I had better communication with my deviantArt friends than I have with my facebook friends now. If I unblock my facebook news feed right now, this is what I see: Random selfie #9 this week, anti-Trump news, anti-BJP news, anti-BJP posts, rants against patriarchy. Once in a while I find out something interesting about poeple: a new relationship, a new job, a new city. But everything else is just people shouting the same thing in an echo chamber. Or else, it’s a whole lot of self-promotion.

I remember this being way different in 2010: There was a group for post-class hangout, another for books present in our library, and countless others. News feed used to be people sharing opinions without fear, and way less fishing for ‘likes’. People planned things using their status. Comments were more conversational than ‘👍🏼’ and ‘nice pic.’. All the things I despise right now did exist then, but in a far lesser amount.

I dread the day when reddit finally turns into a social network.

I also miss RSS. Nowadays, my RSS feed is just news and comics. At some point, people used to have blogspot and wordpress accounts, where they tagged posts. I subscribed to the ‘travel’ feed for someone, ‘personal’ of someone else, ‘essays’ of the other. Now everything is just there, flat on Facebook/Twitter. Even they used to offer RSS feeds, which they phased out. Fucking twitter, where you get just one feed, with people sharing memes, jokes, news, achievements, all floating in the same cesspool of diarrhea, just begging for retweets.

- Sid Verma | Twitter