Dying Internet Blues

Back in November of last year I wrote about how I was scaling back my use of Twitter. Since then it's gotten much worse. Elon Musk has drastically degraded the site's functionality, he broke Tweetdeck (which was by far my favorite way to use the site, in part because you could ignore all of his horrible algorithm crap), and it's now overrun with straight up, no-shit Nazis who are also verified:

That's it. I'm done. I might post my articles and videos over there on occasion so long as it exists, but I have fully moved my normal posting over to Bluesky. (I tried Mastodon for a time, and I do hop over there from time to time, but culturally it just wasn't a good fit.)

But I've also been struggling with motivation recently. I said I was going to try to do a newsletter every week starting in November, but I just can't seem to push myself to do it consistently. I suspect part of the reason is sadness about Twitter. It was awful in many ways, but I met a lot good friends over there, and it was genuinely useful for all kinds of folks. More to the point, I spent literally thousands of hours building up a following on there. I don't think I'd have a journalism career without it, and it was critical to making my podcast a modest success (like many or even most others). And then one dickhead billionaire spent the GDP of Botswana and burned it to the ground.

The internet generally is bumming me out too. Google is overrun with bot spam and it's only getting worse with AI-generated sludge. Another dickhead oligarch is ruining Reddit, which was one of the last places to find reliable product reviews or specialized information. I tried out Threads, but it feels like a combination of the worst of Instagram with the worst of Twitter. The only legacy platform that I still find consistently enjoyable is YouTube, and who knows when that might be broken out of nowhere.

When I was a pup blogger starting out over a decade ago, I unthinkingly assumed that the internet would be at least basically stable. Sites would come and go, but surely nobody would tear up a perfectly functional, keystone part of internet infrastructure out of some combination of idiocy and malice.

How wrong I was.

The lesson is that you just can't trust any service controlled by others. I suppose it should have been obvious at the start but it sure is obvious now. You can sink years of your life into something only for it to be snatched away in a heartbeat for any reason or no reason.

But what's an internet journalist to do? One answer is right here. I own this domain, and it goes out to my own list of emails. Even if Ghost the company goes down, I could just do a custom installation, since it's open source. Nobody can ruin this place, except me.

So in future, I really am going to try my level best to put these out more regularly, and to make them more interesting. So if you're at all interested in keeping up with my work, I humbly request that you hit the subscribe button. Maybe you've been meaning to do it for awhile anyway? Free is fine, but paid appreciated as well. I'm going to add a comment functionality too, as soon as I can figure out how to do it.

I'm also going to keep trying to build up my YouTube channel—that's a risk, but it seems like the only big platform that, for all its problems, seems to be run with an eye to keeping it stable over time. I do want to reach people with my journalism, and YouTube seems like the best shot at doing that for the moment. That's one reason why I pay for the premium service too; I think a subscription system is a more sustainable and less toxic business model than relying on advertising. (Musk was right about that, he just did it in the worst imaginable way.) YouTube is also far, far better without ads, and I use the feature of being able to run videos with my phone screen off far more than I thought I would.

Anyway, hope all is well with everyone. I'll be back soon.

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