It's surprising how many people equate "the Internet" with "social media". It's like having access to 1,000,000x the Library of Alexandria every day, and only being interested in keeping up with what people are talking about in the lobby.
Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing says it best: "The villain here is not necessarily the Internet, or even the idea of social media; it is the invasive logic of commercial social media and its financial incentive to keep us in a profitable state of anxiety, envy, and distraction. It is furthermore the cult of individuality and personal branding that grow out of such platforms and affect the way we think about our offline selves and the places where we actually live."
- a marketplace where our data is stolen, sold & profited off of
- a non-stop barrage of advertisements
- a one-sided social experience
- a capitalist hellscape (because it has been dominated by corporations)
- be a space for human expression & connection
- provide access to information for free
- be respected as a real space where we interact with real humans
- paywalled educational content/news
- the necessity for anyone to become a 'brand'
- social algorithms built and used for profit
- senseless online arguments/hate as a byproduct of online interaction (& the algorithm)
- being forced into the role of 'consumer' in online spaces
(Read my ongoing critique of the modern web for more of a breakdown.)
The goal is not to go backwards, but to forge a new path forward.
What is the personal web?
The personal web refers to spaces on the internet that are created & maintained by real people. These spaces do not advertise commercial products, or turn a profit.
The personal web isn't a reboot or a revival. It's been here all along, overshadowed by fast-paced modern platforms.
The movement is about making the internet into a satisfying, expressive and creative social space. It's about having a space of one's own that isn't dictated by arbitrary limitations of a platform.
How you can participate
- Learn & teach others how to surf the web.
- Engage in good-faith discussions online whenever possible.
- Stop/reduce activity on and/or work toward developing a healthier relationship with your digital self and tell your friends to do the same.
- Speak out on social media about the harms of using those platforms & promote alternative habits.
- Create your own space on the web and convince your friends to do the same!
- Socialize & collaborate with other webmasters & artists.
- Write your own manifesto.
Most of all, never stop creating & making connections on the internet. We will never give up!
I found a touching 'manifesto' on a defunct website from 1999: