I started reading this thread while at the gym inbetween sets... on my
phone. Im typing a reply currently on my phone, while taking a dump.
few thoughts (i didnt read everything before me but i’ll weigh in)
im 30 something now. I started on this site way back when I was deep into the artsy side of shit. This and a few other forums were really the ONLY way at the time to connect, engage, learn the ropes and see cool shit. Phones werent such a thing at the time so my fix was only available on a PC, and once I sat down for a minute I was hooked for hours!
Fast forward a few years... I am
older, into different shit that doesn’t require nor really have an “internet component” to it, i start into the career, job, woman, friends life, and all of a sudden am finding myself with less time to devote to this stuff. I have to find a balance between hobby and social
life and engagement with an internet community goes by the way side.
Enter social media. I began with Facebook (which i think now is mostly old people sharing their photos of grand kids?). I never like facebook or saw a reason for it. Like some said, it always felt like an over-share and the people who were most into it and engaged were people i didnt care for in real life!
Then i got into instagram. Initially it was a breath of fresh air. I liked seeing photos, art, cool stuff, without the riff raff. It was a perfect little quick thing to do when bored day to day. I didnt have 3-4 hrs a day for a forum, but did have 3-4 hrs a day in 2-5 min increments (crazy if u add up all your daily screen time)
I thought IG was somewhere i could share my art, check out others, etc like the art sections of this forum.
i quickly realized this was not the case at all, especially as the app evolved and changed.
the problems: the app (and all other social media platforms) are NOT about nor for the users, where forums are. You gotta wonder how a FREE service such as these platforms are some of the most PROFITABLE companies out there? Where is the revenue from? Not users! They dont even take a cut if you make money from THEIR platform! Thats pretty confident!
These platforms that were maybe once about discourse or engagement evolved into something else. Money and profit. Which fair enough, running shit aint free, but I think people need to realize this and not get it twisted.
its what happens with most things. Imho the internet back in its early years was a niche space, a community for subcultures, outcasts, not the main stream.
With the popularity of social platforms, the realization of how to profit from these platforms and the internet i think we see it become mainstream, targeting the mainstream, but not for the same reasons the internet was cool back in the day for “us”. Kind of like an internet culture appropriation.
I personally dont see long form discussion ever becoming a thing online anymore personally. The mainstream folks that were turned onto the net were done so by the new age of it and were never previously involved in long forums to begin with. The new age kids are coming up in a time where no such discussion ever existed. Its a new wave.
It never was cool to spend “hours online” but thats what u needed to do in order to truly be engaged online. Now people STILL spend hours on their screen but somehow splitting that time into small chunks throughout the day is regarded as better. Not conducive to sharing real thoughts or opinions.
it also goes hand in hand with how the platforms work. You think 12oz would get the same ad revenue from a dude who literally spent an hour in one thread, reading replies, and typing this comment up? Probably not as much as a site that gets millions of “clicks” and “views” and “likes” which is the barometer for popularity, engagement and monetary worth now, although not an accurate one (but them companies needed some measurable way to fool people).
the way its set up now capitalizes on our very nature. These shits are addictive. We fall into incessant checking of our phones, clicking shit, which is now how more and more these apps are evolving cuz thats what makes money. Little hits throughout the day.
i think however its important not to fall into a “it was better back in my day” attitude. Historically, this is how every old generation felt about a new one or a new trend. Personally new generations and trends start new and innovative ideas. I think the real solution is to be in tune with what happens currently, how it works, and find a way to twist and turn it into what you want; attract the new generation somehow, but if it were easy, everyone would be jack dorsey.
final thought - one thing i did find interesting and promising was the jack dorsey podcasts recently. At least on the twitter side, he appeared to be very aware of how discourse has essentially died. If nothing else twitter seemed to be genuinely interested i promoting true conversation on its platform and being better at it. In a way it sounded like it was moving toward what forums of old used to be. However i think it will always boil down to this - no mods, no rules, open to everyone = an endless supply of fucking newbs ruining it (ie average joes who are internetting for the first time and dont know how the internet really works, nor the rules of the internet)
ps. I literally took almost an hour to write this rant