Why Neocities? Who are you? What is this place?

I'm old, and I'm tired.

I discovered neocities at the perfect time, it seems like. I've been feeling... not exactly nostalgic, but more like... postulating on alternet realities. I just really thought the internet was going to go a different way, back in the day.

I sincerely think that social media ruined the internet by trying to make it something that it was never meant to be. Social media, to someone who was not born into the internet, is everything we were warned about when we were setting up the internet. It is literally everything we were specifically told not to do, because it could lead to all the problems that it has led to- the loss of privacy, the death threats, the real danger of doxxing and harm to yourself or your family.

If you grew up in the 90s, you remember how we used to be much more concerned with online safety, and it was always in the forefront of our minds.

There were, essentially, originally two kinds of internet. One was professional, corporate, meant for mass consumption, and used by entities. The other was personal, mindful, meant for individual consumption, and used by people.

We've more or less lost this second internet. The first one absorbed it, and that is when everything went downhill. No longer could one just have a personal website that they updated whenever they felt like it. Now it was a buisness, for some reason, and you had to upload at a certain time, create certain content, stay on-brand- all to please some math problem thought up by a comptuer AI who has never felt a real human emotion. This is a problem. It is not nostalgia that this is a problem, there are tons of studies showing that social media is a terrible thing to consume.

The negative effects that social media have on our physical and mental health are well known, and the common course of action that we're told to take is to "limit our screen time".

That don't make a lick of sense to me, for a number of reasons. The first one is just face validity, like that is a bold claim, that doesn't even seem to track based on what the research actually says. It seems like it's not the 'screen time', 'screen time' is shown to have numerous benefits, such as single player video games increasing IQ and multiplayer games increasing social intelligence. That research and any research that said 'screen time' was the problem, seem, at face value, to be untrue. I had to pay a lot of money to learn that, "Seems like bullshit," has a way to be said that I could publish for peer review, so fun fact: Face validity is just whether or not something seems like bullshit. If it's not obvious bullshit it has face validity. But I feel like this claim is obvious bullshit. So it lacks face validity. I've not really seen research that links the negative impacts of social media to 'screen time', again, social intelligence and emotional stability go UP when playing co-op games, so social screen time being a problem SEEMS like bullshit, you get what I'm saying? Face validity is the first one, it's basically just whether or not something seems like bullshit on the surface and I think the treatment plan of 'limiting screen time' to avoid the negative effects of social media is bullshit, on it's face. It might make sense once it's explained.

Except it doesn't. These studies seem to be on social media use, specifically. I don't talk out of my ass, I'll link everything at the bottom of this post so you can read the studies yourself. The conclusion that the internet is causing these issues is not supported by the research. Yes, we do see people with high screen time display horrible symptoms in a wide range from increased body issues to radicalization into terrorist organizations at the extreme end- but is it possible that it's not the screen time, it's social media in particular?

I argue that social media broke the internet by manipulating the human psyche using a machine taught AI that is different on every platform, but serves the same purpose: to keep users on the platform by manipulating information about them with no regards for ethics. I mean, I don't need to argue that, that's a fact- you bow to the algorythem, but the argument I'm making is that this broke the perfectly good internet that wasn't causing these problems if you looked at the research in the 90s. It's not the internet, it's social media.

And I can show it with science.

There is a reason that humans get addicted to things that are not chemically addictive, but are still destructuve, such as gambleing. Social media takes advantage of these normal brain processes to cause addictive behaviors in their users.

Social media sites show the user their metrics. No post is just a post, no click is just a click. Everything you do tells the computer something about you, and it will use that to manipulate you into spending more time on the site, either posting or consuming. Nothing a user does is innocuous. And everything is moving, not like the second internet I mentioned before, on the user's schedule, but on a corporate schedule, moving like a conveyor belt at a breakneck 'blink or you'll miss it' pace. This change forced personal sites into the public space.

You get a cultivated feed of every-changing content, which, if you step away from, you're now three memes behind on at least. And two twitter scandals. And somewhere, some place is on fire. Because the world is horrible, and you need to know about it. War and famine, plague and death, but here's a funny cat and some headphones you can't afford.

This shit is not good for you, and I really do kinda feel like it ought not have to take somebody who is living in debt to pay for some fancy schooling to figure out that if you just look at negative shit that you can't do anything about, and fancy shit you can't afford, then yeah, that's not good for your brain meat. Your brain meat takes in the shit around it and assembles it into thought schemas, which is where thoughts come from. That's why you know things, like how you were a baby and you didn't know anything and had to communicate via shrieking incoherantly but then picked up a human language? You never stop doing that. So if all you see if this shit, that's what your thoughts become, that's what your mindset becomes. It pulls you in based on your interests, but before you know it, it becomes whatever is going to keep you on the site longer.

This robot does not care if you stay on Facebook longer because it told you that your aunty was racist as hell and you had your kids around her in real life and are writing a response to her post that will change everything. It don't break shit to you gently. It pulls up to tell you your cousin that you ain't seen since kindergarten is in the hospital, and you're not even tagged, it just thought you would "like" that post.

We need to be up on current events, but this ever changing algorythem that the social media platforms run on are not built for human emotion, because they were built for corporations and public entitites like libraries and schools, who do not have human emotion. By blending these two kinds of internet, we got robots that treat humans like corporations that can be sold to, rather than as people. And they funnel your information through that lens. And they do that while tricking you into thinking that you are cultivating your own experience.

But then you go on any one of them with an ad blocker and see how many of those posts were promoted and the page is white. Seriously, put on an ad blocker, go to pinterest, and don't count the sponsored posts. How much content do you see before you scroll?

Did you do it? Did that fuck you up? Because the answer is that there was no non-sponsored content below the fold? Cool, now do that with any other social media site.

The internet has become a walled garden with the express purpose of supplying endless content. No social media account can ever be 'finished'. It's not set up like that. It's not a concept. There are no, 'under construction' signs because this corporate pace that moves by the punch clock instead of the circadian rythem of the human body cannot, by it's very nature, have an end. Entities like that are built on the concept of infinite growth, but for any individual human who only has 24 hours a day and a limited life span, humanity is not an infinite resource, and should not be treated as such.

I think that social media is the problem, and that we can take the internet back by making it a place for art, inspiration, learning, expression, science, math, basically anything anyone wants to share, at the pace anyone would like to learn it, read about it, hear it, or see it. I think we have to remember, because we now have two generations that grew up on this corporate internet, that you don't need the man to communicate on the internet. You don't need to depend on a corporation like Facebook or Twitter or whatever to get your message out there. Back in my day, this is what we had, and you moved at your own pace and took in what you needed. And, twitter stans, I just italicized a word in the middle of a paragraph because I wanted to. Do that on twitter. Go speak your truth in the voice you want to convey it. Oh. You can't. Because twitter can't do that, at the time of this writing. Your message is limited to what the platform is willing to provide.

It's not somuch nostalgia as it is the belief that we chose incorrectly when we chose to make the personal corporate by selling out to companies who saw us as cogs in their machine for their infinite economic growth, some of whom definately could not be trusted with that information and sold it to the highest bidder as a matter of public record. This was a bad idea. Is that really super controversial to say? Don't trust strangers on the internet, even if they have a cool web page. Never give a stranger on the internet your home phone number.

I believe in the idea that Neocities seems to have, that we can save the 'old net', but I don't think it's that the net is old, I think that it's that it isn't controlled by corporate or government overlords, but by the individual 'webmasters'. If we let some overlord have control of all the webhosting we would run into the same problems if they started imposing the same rules. But neocities seems to have no desire to do that. Maybe one day they'll sell to Google too, but that day is not today.

So who are you?

Some bitch. I've had a website under this name since 1998. It's me. I'm the same bitch. Tripod, Bravenet, Crosswinds, that was me. I've not done this in a good 20 years, so let's just see what the hell happens.

I'm trying to write a book like every other American with their "Great American Novel" and I'm looking for beta readers if anybody wants to do that. I'm in the last year of a college program I'm finding kind of difficult but that pays fairly well upon graduation. I have a dog who is cute as hell. I might make a diary or something if anyone actually wants more fun facts. I don't know what to put in an about me section that I wouldn't make part of the site if I wanted to talk about it.

Update: I graduated. Now I'm a psychologist. Now I'm "some bitch in crippling debt".

Further Reading

I do want to say that some of these might need a subscription to read, but that's not me being mean, I sincerely do not know that because I'm in the field so it logs in automatically for me and I need it to do that because the passwords are stupid and I'm scared that if I turn that off on my computer I won't be able to get back in for school. And if that happens I will go on a straight up rampage. I am so close to that degree. It's a whole thing. But I think most of them are free.

Networked privacy: How teenagers negotiate context in social media

Gender differences in associations between digital media use and psychological well-being: Evidence from three large datasets

The Use of Social Media by Australian Preadolescents and Its Links With Mental Health

Internet gaming disorder and problematic social media use in a representative sample of German adolescents: Prevalence estimates, comorbid depressive symptoms and related psychosocial aspects

STUDY 2: SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE USE: LINKED TO ADOLESCENTS’ SOCIAL SELF-CONCEPT, SELF-ESTEEM AND DEPRESSED MOOD - As a note this is obviously part of a much larger study program, but the argument I made about these issues being specific to social media rather than overall screen time is pretty much all in study 2. You can obviously read however much you want, just if you are only checking to see if I lied you want to check study 2. Save you some time if your goal is fact checking rather than just leisurely reading. The whole thing is interesting. I just wasn't talking about the rest in this post specifically.

A systematic review: the influence of social media on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adolescents

The serially mediated relationship between emerging adults' social media use and mental well-being