Today, I came across a video from Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, one of my favorite YouTube channels, titled "The Internet is Worse Than Ever – Now What?". This video caught my eye because I care about the internet and I enjoy thinking about technological impact on our lives so naturally I wanted to learn what the author has to say on the topic.
The video addresses a range of topics including online polarization, the structure of social interactions, the role of the human brain in societal division, and the significant impact of social media. It presents a critical view of the commonly held belief in the existence of 'filter bubbles' on the internet. Contrary to this popular notion, the video argues that real life, rather than the Internet, is where filter bubbles predominantly occur. It points out that online environments often expose individuals to a diverse array of opinions, challenging the idea that digital spaces merely reinforce existing views.
Additionally, the video delves into the evolutionary aspect of the human brain, particularly its role in navigating and sustaining social structures. This is highlighted by the emphasis on the necessity of cooperation for survival in historical contexts. The video illustrates how physical closeness and shared cultural experiences traditionally served as bridges between differing worldviews. This perspective sheds light on the complex interplay between human psychology, social dynamics, and the modern digital landscape.
This is the main solution the author proposes - an internet built on smaller communities and not on the "Everyone you know or don't know is here" social media platform format we're so accustomed to.
I fully agree that we should have smaller internet communities. One of the biggest issues I currently see is Instagram. Basically, everyone has one and breaking that norm that everyone you know has to be on the platform for you to find it "useful" will be hard.
Another issue I currently see is people's perception of the internet. For a lot of people, Facebook is the internet, and changing the mental models of millions of people might be tough.
Also, people are so used to the current addictive nature of social media that one can argue they will have a harder time using a boring, non-curated Internet that has a limited amount of content. For example, following a few blogs writing about topics they enjoy. Once you've checked all the published posts, you're done for the day.
Mastodon and its federated approach with the ActivityPub protocol is one of the most promising projects in a long time. I'm not sure how many community-based instances there are, but I think the solution mentioned in the video is possible with the currently available technology.
I'm absolutely loving the idea of a smaller, more decentralized internet with niche communities. This is also one of the reasons why I still publish on my blog.
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