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>> July 22, 2022 - The Internet is self referential

Inspired by this Lainchan post, which is also archived, just in case.

If you’re too lazy to read the links, click this for details!

Top post:

"Does anyone else feel excluded from the Internet? This may come out as a incoherent rambling, but i can't shake the feeling that the Internet is morphing into something i can't quite comprehend, or feel welcome anymore. I know full well, that i'm not the Main character of the universe, but if home is where we make it be, then what do you do, when all places feel like foundation made of sand?

I joined the Internet around 2008, and enjoyed many of its simpler aspects, such as flash games, social media, and later, imageboards. The whole Internet felt like something special, where people would bring their A-game, where you could distinctively hear and be heard by 1000 people, and the only limit was in your ability to be interesting. I've seen the SA chans become strange, confusing, superficial, and of no interest. Where before, every single thread in the first page would have a post of mine, not because i'm the greatest greatness in this Earth, but because of their immense potential and joy provided by the discussion. Nowadays, they've been taken over by pornography, superficial politics, and a general air of toxicity, as if people are competing to be the Alpha Chad in a Mongolian Basket-weaving anonymous forum.

Even FB, which i would have around 80+ Notifications, because of the amount of posting, discussing, answering and being answered, in the various groups of various interest, from gaming to some obscure Fandom, is of little interest. The memes feel hollow, endless self-referencing, they die and are born on a whim, and the only thing missing is someone holding my head, and screaming "recognize this and laugh! THAT'S FUNNY"."

Am i a spoiled brat, with my pleasure receptors fried? Have the interesting people moved on, or moved somewhere? Where then?

Some choice replies:

- "Zoom[er] user memes. Self-referencing has become the point. The punch line is missing, the context doesn't matter, the original idea is forgotten, the humor is stale or nonsensical, the meme itself is often cringe for the sake of being cringe. Many of those memes are actually used as a form of political virtue signaling more than anything else. And the audience? The audience is scrolling by at the lightning speed anyway."

It's the way Zoo user's brain works. Posting these memes does not require any original thoughts, it doesn't require forcing your brain to think of a problem in a novel way, it doesn't require any personal take on things. It doesn't require thinking, originality nor any kind of personal self-expression. It doesn't require making something new yourself. It's only about using something that somebody else has already made, no matter how boring and unoriginal it is. Zoom users don't even want to make their own fun, they expect the fun to be delivered to them in a box ready to use, like everything. That's why these people would rather pay money for overpriced and oversimplified videogame from Ubisoft than to go and make their own fun in some creative way. People of this generation completely lost the ability to be creative and want to consume "fun" via visual media in the same way they order food.

- "Another point is that the Internet is now getting it's information from itself and bots echoing each other, becoming self-referential rather than reporting on things outside of itself. Web 1.0 was a strange time because it when cable TV was also at it's peak and many things were being digitized still so it had a constant stream of fresh info to commentate on."

- "When I was growing up we where taught in school not to share information about ourselves online, post photos of ourselves, share or adress or post anything else that could be used to pin down who we are. As such Internet culture was built around being anonymous with at best a silly username used to represent you. Once Facebook came around that changed, Facebook suddenly required you to use your real name and you where encouraged to share as much about your life as possible. This is where Internet culture is now, Instagram and Tiktok is by design meant for you to post about yourself and your life in order to impress others to get likes which encourages people to share faked versions of their lives to make them look better while giving kids who grow up with these websites major insecurity issues. Doesn't help that schools no longer discuss online privacy anymore.

Now, there is nothing stopping people from sticking to older forms of communication on the Internet but the real problem is that no one wants to put in the effort to build and keep a community. That requires people to actually put in the effort to create something, be it websites, content for websites to grow their culture or even memes. There is a reason why 4chin went from having funny drawn memes to simple wojack edits, because people are too lazy to put in the effort. People want to build a community but put in the least amount of effort possible and gives up when that doesn't work after a couple of months.

It also doesn't help that you have a bunch of people who think that the Internet used to be some caothic space of free speech lacking any form moderation when the actual reason why communities formed was thanks to moderation and gatekeeping. In order to build a close knit community you need moderation to keep that community from turning into a cesspool of trolling and brewing soykaf and it wasn't uncommon for people back in the day to hop from site to site until they found a site with a community and moderation policy that they personally enjoyed."

The rest of the thread is very interesting on its own, don’t get me wrong, but I’m incredibly focused on the fact that the whole of the Internet is self referential now. New posts, memes, articles, whatever it is, are usually focused on the Internet itself, and spurred on by the Internet, instead of someone outside the Internet.

I’ve been trying to understand why this bothers me so much. I think this is because it breaks down the image of the Internet that I had in my head - the idea that the Internet is this place storing almost all of the information that humanity has researched or gathered. The idea that the Internet is not reality, and simply based off of reality. The idea that things happen independent of the Internet, and the Internet simply reports on it.

No. None of these are true. The Internet does gather information, but now most of the information is about the Internet itself! Think of Internet drama, of memes, of Internet subcultures, websites, things that people have posted on the Internet - none of this would been recorded, let alone exist, if it wasn’t for the Internet and the people on it!

The Internet is an extension of reality now. It is not independent of the world, and it was naive for me to think so. There are careers on the Internet, and based on the Internet. Friendships and relationships form on the Internet.

The Internet mostly reports on the Internet now, not on the world around it. Think of how much news is simply based off of things that happened on Twitter or the newest TikTok trend. Of course, the Internet still reports on real world events, but this is done by news companies in an attempt to get money, hijack your attention, and raise your anger levels.

The Internet reports to no one but itself. It creates its own content, subcultures, humor, relationships, and more that are only loosely based on the real world.

On a very, very related note, the Internet has slowly been losing appeal to me ever since I heard of this new way to frame the Internet. I want to make creative output more than ever before, but I’m still too addicted to the goddamn Internet to make anything of worth that’s not connected to the Internet! Even this article is based off the same Internet that I am starting to despise so much. The Internet doesn’t feel like something someone can engage with. It feels like something I am a bystander of that is too big to ever even try to influence. It feels like a massive void, where all you can do is contribute to ideas and subcultures that were created independently of you, and will continue being created independently of you, and will never be influenced by you.

I love the Internet, but I need to be outside of it more.

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