The death of posting personal works

Just wanted to share some existential thoughts ruminating in my mind today.
I wrote it as a normal blog post if you want to read there, but might as well post here, too!
As obvious as it may sound, I’m finally realizing that the reason I stopped wanting to post my personal work, make TikToks, vlogs, anything that COULD be easy “low effort” stuff is because even when trying to be “authentic”, everything has to be a performance now. And I’m tired of it.

But the “performance” side of things is impossible to avoid if you want anything to come of your work. This wasn’t always the case.

In the 90s, art and videos were made to share with friends. You could submit something to a magazine; if published, people would enjoy it or respond to it, but weren’t too concerned with the name behind the work (if you weren’t a regular contributor). You might have something you made shared on forums in a pseudo “viral” way, but you had more control over it. Or at least, over the attention you received from it.

In the early 00s, you shared things you made more openly and publicly online, but everything was still mostly anonymous. All that mattered was the work, the meme, the impact. When was the last time you saw an image, poem or blog post, video, anything get a ton of attention without it being very obvious who made it? You may not personally know who made it, but it’s highly unlikely you’ve seen something like this in recent years that isn’t branded or pointed to an existing, sustained social account in some way.

Jump to about 2008 and it started being about the person and “following” them. It became a matter of persona, a skill of performance. This was a slow change. It wasn’t immediate, and we still saw plenty of breakout/viral hits from people that we’d never hear from again. But as memes and viral videos got shared, a foundation of “influencer culture” was being laid. Brick by brick, the basic vloggers and comedy skit channels started posting consistently and asking for “subscribers”, followed by gamers and later makeup and beauty creators. By 2010, the idea of “being a YouTuber” had already been solidified - with plenty of kids and teens like myself completely swept up in the idea that we could do something that had our name attached to it online for a long time and have it last beyond a Halo: CE clan leaderboard or short-run Pokémon Elite 2000 forum signature egg shop.

And today… it’s EASY to find a following and garner success by just consistently sharing your work over time and building it up. Want to get “famous” online as an artist, comedian, photographer, whatever? Just post at least 3 times weekly to the most trendy apps for that specific content type with a consistent username that points to where you are elsewhere, use some clever hashtags or trending sounds, and… wait. Look back in a couple years and see how far you’ve gone. This rarely doesn’t work, other than with people who still have a lot of development left to do in their field.

There are far fewer obstacles in my way for getting what I want with my other work than ever before, and yet motivation has vanished because of the performance aspect. It’s no longer about making cool work and sharing it, it’s about making a show out of it.

In a way, this has 100% democratized many creative fields and made it more accessible than ever to find an audience and have your voice heard. There’s good in that, I will never deny it. It changed my life for the better in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

But with that, it removed so much meaning from the work. While it does still happen, the average person who gains a following for doing a thing isn’t doing so because they make work that stands out the most, speaks to more people with meaning, or is the most skillfully-crafted. It’s the people who play the game. It’s a sales job.

Secrets to success:

Want to gain a following for photography?

  1. Post photos at least 3 times a week to Instagram, Threads, Twitter, and start hosting your own portfolio (probably with some YouTuber’s sponsor code for SquareSpace).
  2. CONSTANTLY be posting YouTube Shorts and TikToks about the “skills you NEED to know to take better photos” consisting of the most basic Photography 101 tips on lighting, composition, understanding shutter speed and ISO. Bonus points if you keep pitching it as a crusade against “gatekeeping”
  3. Constantly show that you’re using a Sony or Fuji camera. You’ll recognize the position of how to hold it on-camera and eventually your muscle memory will develop to the extent that you’ll always hold your camera about neck high, at an angle to reveal the logo, even when you’re not filming Shorts.
  4. Don’t worry about not knowing what you’re doing. Go somewhere pretty or find a hot model friend to shoot, make new Shorts every time you learn even the most basic thing about photography, and teach it as if you’re an expert who’s cracked the code.
  5. Make sure at least once a month you recreate trendy photos that flood your Instagram and all look the same - you never know when someone will pick your downtown Chicago sunset out of the sea of them and happen to follow you. [Just don’t be offended when you see them in the comments of someone else’s similar photo thinking it was you they were talking to.]
  6. Be sure to spend as much time as possible hyping up new camera and lens releases, debating camera brands with strangers online, and posting your hot takes no one asked for.

That’s it. I’ve seen hundreds (maybe thousands at this point) of photographers gain millions of followers and turn their “Babbie’s First DSLR” experience into more gear than they know what to do with it and more success than countless lifetime photographers (who don’t want to play the game) will ever do.

Copy and paste these instructions to every niche and topic.

It’s easy. Too easy. Perhaps that lack of difficulty is contributing to the lower motivation, too. I did start my “successful” phase of my career trying to break down walls and make things easier for everyone, so I should want this - but I do enjoy problem solving, and it feels the problems to solve anymore are not ones I like the answers to.

You’ll notice that very little in that list involved taking photos or focusing on improving them. Part of that is because it’s inherent to being a photographer, but also because it’s not required. There’s a baseline minimal level you have to do to maintain the content, but you don’t even have to TRY to become a great photographer to become famous for it anymore.

[Again, photography is just used as an example, this applies to virtually everything online.]

Instead, you have to master the performance. Master chasing trends, inciting argument, getting the attention on you, not your work.

When I go on a trip with my family packing a camera and a lens, the last thing I want to have to think about is the performance. I don’t want to turn my family or my relaxation time into “content.” I don’t even want to make “content.” My photography is my way of preserving memories and creating art. The same applies copypasta’d to my glitchart, design work, cinematography and videography desires, creative writing, etc. Obviously I develop many of my creative skills for and apply them in ways that benefits my job from time to time, but I don’t want that to be the sole purpose for them.

When I’m “on the clock” I perform. I do my job. But then my other stuff I do - even if I WANT to be able to turn it into parts of the job - I don’t want to perform. I don’t want to minmax hashtags & posting times & deal w/ a new influx of toxic comments that to argue with… I just want to make cool shit.

A lot of this is a “me problem” but a lot of it is what I see every artist go through.

As a social media newbie, they post their work as they make it around school/job, build a following, go full time with their shop and TikTok ads and affiliate links, then burn out due to all the other stuff that comes with it. They stop making art with anywhere near as much frequency or meaning.

I don’t want to end up there. Being able to create online, share it, help others learn how to do it and get past their hurdles towards being able to do this, it all matters too much to me.

But I just can’t do it.

I can’t do the persona game. The other guys might be happy to “make a channel about me but pretending it’s to teach you stuff” (paraphrased, but nearly the exact quote from a fellow creator in my primary niche) but I can’t. I can’t scam people, I can’t lie to them, manipulate them. To me the work is what matters, not the cult of personality.

I’d be selling it short to suggest that it’s only the persona part that makes it a performance. Performance is inherent to the very process of posting anything anymore. You have to filter it, make it look good enough, trim it, add flair, do something, and at the very least you have to post it to a platform (if you want eyes on it) that is designed around personal branding, farming likes and followers, and “engagement.” It’s not “difficult to avoid” the performance issue, it’s impossible. You cannot post something to a modern platform without it coming into play.

Whether it’s a caption, title, tags, thumbnail, editing, cleaning up (or re-cluttering as the new trend goes) your space, making yourself look decent, making sure you have your thoughts together, it’s always there.

Some of it’s a natural part of making something people want to consume. Why would anyone listen to audio you didn’t cut out yelling at your neighbor’s dog to shut up or you mom coming into your room, or watch a video that has a minute of you sitting down and getting ready to talk after you hit record? (Much of early YouTube was like these two examples anyway.)

It’s always there. I can’t just post a cool photo I took, some thoughts I’ve had, a cool video idea without at minimum, formatting it for the platform it’s going on, and almost always without always being tempted by the notification counter of Likes or the persistence of comments and replies.

I’ve been driven my entire career life to share my passions and my work with others, yet I literally cannot do so without worrying about performance - else I’d be out of a job. And nothing kills my motivation to post low-effort (but still interesting, based on how many others I’ve seen pop up posting clones of the kinds of stuff I’d want to post) clips to TikTok like that dread that inevitably I’ll be hit with a wave of dumbass 16 year olds who want to argue that I’m wrong about things I’ve been teaching since before they were born, just because I don’t have a million followers or something.

This line of thinking put a concrete ceiling above my head that I’ll never break through. It’s my fault, but it’s still there. I hate being put in a box on a micro level, but on the macro… I boxed myself in big time.

A self-imposed ceiling still feels claustrophobic if you don’t want to compromise your values to get rid of it.

The key to mass success and surviving making “content” online is to adapt, and it’s become blindingly obvious that adapting is not something I do anymore. And there will be consequences for that.

And it’s no coincidence that I struggle with this more and more as evidence shows younger generations don’t even bother trying to consume meaningful work anymore and big corpo wants to replace us with AI. Honestly, I don’t take it personally that the tech bros want to do this - they have been obsessed with “disrupting” (which doesn’t mean what they think it means nor has the impact they think it does) every market under the sun for decades. It’s not personal. But what I do take offense to is that people are okay consuming it.

I’ve spent most of my day ruminating on these thoughts and putting words to the existential dread that comes with them. It might not be much, but these are my true, honest feelings and processing of how things are changing have changed. It has meaning, meaning to me as the writer. Meaning to you as the reader who might share a similar current experience, past experiences, or gut feeling you couldn’t describe. Meaning to the future as it might predict changes I make in what I do and how I do it as the years progress.

But why would you read something like this written by AI? Willingly? The AI hasn’t lived, it hasn’t felt, it hasn’t decided what is right and what is wrong. It just reads what other people have wrote and colored-by-numbers its way into some filler text to take up the page.

Why would I read what nobody has bothered to write? Why would I feel something about a thought that no one actually had?

This isn’t about AI. If anything, it’s more about the progression of capitalism and the commoditization of art and creativity. It’s about getting old, not keeping up with the times. But ultimately, it’s about meaning and feeling.

If we don’t care, who will?

That’s why I can’t seem to post my personal work anymore. It’s why I shoot nearly a thousand photographs a year (on film and digital), why I’m trying to learn to sing, why I play around with synthesizers and circuit bent analog video gear, why I try to master my videography craft as I turn my space into my dream cyberspace void, why I write and write and write and cannot seem to bother to post it anywhere if it’s not in a work video.

My dreams could easily come true if I just posted a photo every day, if I just made a couple Shorts/TikToks a week on my cool creative projects behind the scenes. If I just submitted my writing to more places, tried getting in art galleries, shilled NFTs or something.

But I’m not sure I’m capable. I might die one day, with a digital vault full of work, thought, idea, meaning - all screaming to be seen and heard - that will eventually succumb to bitrot and never see the light of day. This isn’t the old times, my work won’t find its way into museums and become “classics” after I depart this material plane onto the next. It’ll just dissolve into nothing. Because the work doesn’t matter anymore, all that matters is who has the charisma and salesmanship to push the least amount of effort in front of the most amount of people.


Incredible read about the state of personal branding and everyone being a “sellout” Want to sell a book or release an album? Better start a TikTok. - Vox

I’ll preface by saying I am not an artist/content creator. I don’t tweet/toot/upload/blog/post in hopes of leaving my professional career behind for a life of self-promotion. When reading through a blog post like this or the VOX story, my inner introvert sounds all the alarms and says, “Run. Run away and hide.” I sometimes feel like I’m disconnected from all the social media drama (drama isn’t the right word, but I felt “discourse” or “discussion” wasn’t correct either) and am watching it through a window.

I’ve never been good at social media. I always see what people share and refrain from sharing my thoughts/ideas/opinions. Part of that is due to knowing I don’t have a thick skin for criticism, and some of it is due to the emotional scars left from being that smart kid bullied in middle school. My self-worth is pretty low. Even now, as a grown-ass man with a family, super supportive wife, kid, and successful career, the thought of posting something and someone not liking it scares the hell out of me.

And yet, even with those deep seated reservations, I still want to put myself out there sometimes. The last push was in 2019, which coincided with the Derbycon infosec/hacker conference. While looking through the session list for the 3-day conference, one caught my eye for Sunday. It was called “How to Give the Gift That Keeps on Giving - Your Knowledge,” presented by Jason Blanchard (How to Give the Gift That Keeps on Giving - Your Knowledge - Jason Blanchard Derbycon 2019 (Hacking Illustrated Series InfoSec Tutorial Videos) (yes, the audio is messed up)). I sat in the audience, listened to the presentation, talked with the presenter afterward, took the advice to heart, and restarted posting to my WordPress site or YouTube video monthly. I was on a roll… The most consistent I ever was… and 2.5 years later, I ran out of gas. I never enjoyed the social media side: trying to create a thumbnail, tweeting that I had a new post/upload out, etc. And the interaction numbers showed it, too. I wasn’t looking for great success. The few positive comments to videos were enough to know I had helped someone. And yet… I felt “done”. To this day, I still want to post something. But my self-deprecating negative thoughts are holding me back. Maybe things would be different if I had unrestricted permission to share code I’ve written for work. That’s where my creativity shines. But there’s a balancing act of “this is a cool thing I wrote” vs “this is how our company is doing this thing and the code a sensitive data in it.”

There is a safe place I do enjoy sharing—the local Microsoft Users Group. Once a month, I get to spend lunch with 40-70 other people, listening to a talk or sharing stories and ideas. And once a year, I step up and become the presenter. Really, it’s a role I enjoy doing. Dare I say, LOVE IT? Even if I end up mentally exhausted (and sometimes physically sick afterward). Best of all. I don’t have to jump on the social media treadmill and do the self-promotion I loathe so much.

You know. Maybe the fear of social media isn’t all bad. Between family, work, and sleep, I can sometimes go several days without touching YouTube, Discord, or Mastodon. And when I return, I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. Sometimes, I wonder if anyone else around me would feel the same if they skipped social media for a day or two. Or is it too late, and our brains are now wired for that dopamine hit that comes from scrolling continuously to new content?

What was the point of all this? I have no idea. I spent over two hours typing this out, yet I feel like I haven’t said a fraction of anything I thought.


HEY! That’s the self-esteem talking again, put that away!

This was really nice to read. Opened my eyes up a bit. For a few reasons.

First, I had no clue DerbyCon has been a thing right under my nose this whole time. I’m not sure I would really get much out of an InfoSec conference, but neat to know there’s… anything locally to begin with.

More importantly…

Honestly? I think this has helped me finally accept the part I’ve been struggling to deal with and maybe me repeating it back can eventually help you, too:
It’s okay to just put stuff out in the world and not put in the self-promotion effort. At least, I think.
That’s how we did it before social media! It’s obvious, and I knew that, inside, yet I had to be reminded of this somehow? Or maybe my sleepy brain is getting the best of me.
But like, before… we’d just put up a blog or a cool site or host a video and that was it. If people found it, awesome, if people found it helpful, amazing. I think over-self-promoting and trying to “share” it everywhere only really matters (or works) when there’s a financial factor (which tbf is a factor for me with at least my primary stuff, but also not as I’ll get to in a moment) - but not for everything else.
Sure, it’s harder to get more eyes on it “organically” - but if you’re making it for you or to just get the information/art/whatever out there so people can find it when they go to look for it, that’s what really matters.
While it would be unwise to push you to start again before you were ready, and being unable to share the work you’re actively participating in absolutely has to be a roadblock and one I’ve seen many struggle with in a similar position… I’m willing to bet if you got the itch to “do it again” and just focused on doing the thing and being happy with doing it, and NOT the social media/promotion side - you’d be a LOT happier with it. And when you do get any comment or decent traffic from it, you’re going to be that much more rewarded from the unexpected result.
Not everything needs to be measured on some sort of viewership performance.

This is really rad to hear. I honestly believe that MOST people trying to “do social media” or YouTube or stream would be better off with more private groups like this. I’ve started pushing people to consider if they want to “be a streamer” or just make friends while gaming because streaming is a piss poor solution to the latter, and a lot of people just want the latter.
Perhaps that kind of group is all you really need to get that kind of fulfillment, and that’s totally okay if so. We’ve kinda flipped the narrative as a society so that things seem to “not matter” if they aren’t online in some way, but that’s just not true.

In some bizarre way, I’m incredibly jealous of this.

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Shit, I forgot to follow up on my “I’ll get to in a moment.” bit.

With StreamGuides, while I did go through and share a couple of the bigger exclusive posts on social media, a lot of the work I do there just transcribing videos or building out the written guides etc. is purely just to have it on the internet in a form that isn’t video and isn’t tied exclusvely to YouTube.
Arguably, it’s not a part of “my job” in the traditional sense. It doesn’t earn me more money on YouTube and its contribution to my views or sponsors is minimal. It’s purely driven by its own SEO, and it’s managed to pick up traction that way and I hope it keeps building.
As it stands right now, AdSense estimates that the blog has earned me $13 or so in the past month. Nothing game changing (though could scale) BUT that’s enough to start covering the costs of hosting and domain renewal etc. which IS a huge deal for sustaining the site. Hard to argue it’s not worth keeping up when it pays for itself, and that helps ensure the information stays online and free for the foreseeable future. That’s all I want for my work on some level.

(But I do have to contend with the anti-user/consumer nature of ads on the website. AdSense is basically 100% automated now, a far cry from the manual ad block selection and placement the last time I monetized a blog and the ads are… ATROCIOUS to say the least. Everything from banners on all 4 sides of the frame to entire screen-covering pop-ups to download an app or check out the subject of the same ad as the other 4. I absolutely and fundamentally hate this and am terrified of this pushing people away from the size, but it’s hard to argue with the honestly very impressive RPMs I’m earning here. It competes with the video ad rates on all but 1 of my channels.
So that’s a whole separate philosophical debate to have. My idealized solution would be to set up a Patreon/subscription tier/group/something to focus on keeping my sites operational and ad free (the blog, these forums, the peertube once done, etc.) but then there’s additional steps of do I do separate ones for each, how do I allocate, do I remove ads ahead of time and risk just not getting any subs… ADHD decision paralysis taking over here. But you get the idea.)

Really dumb question, but have you thought about looking into other ad networks for the blog? I know AdSense is the go to, but I wonder if CPMs for other ad networks are higher or slightly less invasive.

I haven’t; I wouldn’t even begin to know where to look, since AdSense is baked into everything easily haha

I have more thoughts regarding the entire thread, but for now:

I learned some interesting things about our studio graphics software and posted it to a Blogger blog. I didn’t have a good note taking for the future plan back then, so I thought if I tagged the post with my own search terms I would find it again someday, assuming I had forgotten about it. The software help contents didn’t cover it. I didn’t write it for any purpose other than not to lose an epiphany.

In less than a week I had gotten a dozen comments and questions about features I hadn’t ever touched. I was sad that the documentation was lacking and that there were no public tutorials to help these questions. But I was happy, and felt like I was connected to some weird club, that my little bit of random information mattered to other people in studios elsewhere trying to muddle through.

Huh. Now that I think about it… I posted it to an old google account, and with google’s clearing of old and unused accounts, the info might be gone now.

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Another reason the modern web is falling apart T_T

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What a topic?!?! Especially when I think about when I first started to produce music, the medium I saved my tracks to was cassette. I’ve probably lost countless tracks on trains, planes, buses, and to decks chewing up tape. I’ve dropped hard drives, had them stolen, and some just flat out stop working. I’ve had blue screens of death right in the middle of recording sessions. I’ve had production companies close up shop overnight. All this occurred before I’ve had my first track played on the radio, long before I’ve uploaded my first track to fill-in the blank music blog.

Maybe having this experience before the dawn of the current iteration of the internet hasn’t left me feeling this desire to become ‘famous’ by garnering millions of followers. Perhaps to those who place value in this sort of feedback loop I’m a relic, a dinosaur, or just plain selfish.

Ultimately I’m a creator, an advocator, part-time on the cheap educator. However, I have a voice and undying need to provide a counter point to a culture that has the power to inspire just as easily it provides a deterrent. This is something that I’ve struggled with for decades as people who heard my music just ‘had to’ affix a label:
Is this hip-hop, is that electronic, how about this is ‘music’? Wait, are you rapping too? Producers don’t rap?

Why am I being asked to perform again after I’ve already created the show? Why are the opportunities for success locked behind yet another door after I’ve already torn down the wall? Why is the discovery of music (or any art or talent) dependent on invoking your will against an algorithm than having any shred of skill in your chosen craft?

Exhaustion is a word that comes to mind. Apathy is another. Wanting to draw back from it all is completely understandable. Wanting to play music for small groups of people and have conversations about inspiration and techniques is where I could see all of this going. A.I. is already having an impact and being more human is our best defense as creators. Having one foot in the tech world, I know the biggest hallucination is people believing ‘reasoning’ is occurring, when it is evident there is none. Yet, for some reason I feel I’m more prepared for this challenge then someone telling me X producer is my competitor…the problem is people not realizing that they are the game…the goal is to garner their attention and money. It’s not about sparking conversation or connection. I feel the same when I create now as I did the first time I made a beat, I couldn’t wait to talk about the process, where I got that sample, why I made the bass line sound like that.

Even before A.I. I would experience people telling me ‘how to make my music commercially viable’, when this person never played a note in their life. Never heard an ear worm that they had to express because it was racking their brain all day. Never created something, then had the balls to show others what came out of it. But fixed their faces to say, ‘but you haven’t sold your soul for this’…umm without a soul, none of what you hear would of been possible.

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What a wonderful reply. Honestly, I think more people need to be like this. And as I’ve been working on a “social media diet” of sorts (removed Twitter, TikTok, Mastodon & BlueSky from my phone) I kind of feel that coming back. I care far less about posting or reading what’s on there, which somehow makes me more comfortable sharing my work again. It’s a really bizarre phenomenon.

This article and the VOX one you’ve linked sent me on two weeks of rabbit-holes, and now I have some things I want to share with the class. This reply started off as a collection of quotes from other youtubers, about things you know and linked to already. No need to recycle words. Then it became a long rant about my life, but going to the art section of a tech forum to post two pages of “ky needs to touch grass” didn’t feel right either.


So let me start this by apologizing for a comment I made. On your recent “put yourself out there” video all I could reply with was racking my brain over the “correct” platform. I am not a creator, I have nothing to post lol. It took me a month for the “wishing I was creative” video to sink in.
I’ll work my way back to the topic.

So, here in Romania high-school kids get separated into “Math-Info” and “Human sciences”. I followed the former path, even though I can’t do homework. Eventually engineering faculty didn’t work out anymore. Not entirely my fault, after I left, the faculty was disolved and the building got reclaimed by University of Bucharest.

So now I’m starting from scratch. I want to share this article (audio included) because it explained so much, for me.

If you simultaneously can’t afford any frills and can’t afford any failure, you end up with millennial design: crowd-pleasing, risk-averse, calling just enough attention to itself to make it clear that you tried. This is a style that makes basic success cheap and easy. […]Boob-print pillows and bath mats are perhaps the most literal expression of a general tendency toward the comforts of babyhood. Needleman sees not a trip to Greece but something more like childproofing. “It’s like it has no edge or sense of humor or sense of mystery,” she says. “There’s no weirdness. There’s nothing that clashes. It is very controlled.
Simplicity of design encourages an impression that all errors and artifice have fallen away. The millennial aesthetic promises a kind of teleology of taste: as if we have only now, finally, thanks to innovation and refinement, arrived at the objectively correct way for things to look.

Narrow paths, too much control and the general idea that all problems were solved, I just need to look for the “correct” way to do things. That’s how I ended up with both Premiere Pro and Resolve installed, when all I needed was LosslessCut. And with a lifetime of artblock, to the point that I can’t even write a CV.

It is a constantly self-conscious sensibility, that of someone who is always performing, always watching themselves be watched: Maybe that was once primarily the condition of women, but it seems increasingly to apply to us all. […]design performs the work of salespeople and stores: It’s the hook, but also the promise of legitimacy.

I can’t comment to show gratitude, the comments are closed now. Some call out the author as insufferable and tedious with nothing of value to offer. Literally me fr fr. “Encouraging to connect” with it is a rabbit-hole by itself (the love triangle of Art, business and entertainment), but it allowed me to discover the dead format of “First person/al essays”

Our issue now isn’t that we’re overanalyzing art; it’s that it’s all so familiar that, instead of looking for its meaning, we are encouraged to “connect” with it, which is to say, to see ourselves in the work.

Personal essays cry out for identification and connection; what their authors often got was distancing and shame. … “First-person writing should not be cheap, and it should not be written or edited quickly”

The brand called… me?

The original article from '97 calls personal branding “inescapable”. What a start. It talks about how company brands rise and fall, but the true value is the people, not the logo. And how they take their talent with them when they leave. For me specifically, I found the article at the right time. It covers the basics of stoicism, and how to start, how to get a job, to learn new skills because that’s the only way to stay afloat during economic crisis. I like the point about showing loyalty to the people you network with, not the companies. (all this talk about trust and bringing value to the customer really shows off how long it’s been huh). “The sites you go back to are the sites you trust.” I think this is the only solution to fake news, good journalism and building reputation over time, just as it ever was. Although it does seem harder to build trust these days.(
And to their credit, FastCo includes at the end the follow-up from 2005, calls it " threw a revolution and hardly anyone came". Their main complaints were about how the end-point of personal brands are consultants, that wrote books about nothing, and how those tips only apply to lone wolves, while hurting established teams. “questioning the feasibility of relentless self-promotion for already-busy people.” “Corporations don’t want Lord of the Flies playing out in their cubicles, with an army of personal brands battling the corporate one.” “Branding is too abstract, and it’s not part of people’s everyday thinking.” I think that millenial aesthetic from earlier took over enough parts of everyday life alright. They do give a successful example though:

That modern relationship between Me Inc. and Paycheck Inc. plays out at Cisco Systems. In the Brand You issue, we featured Cisco in “Hire Great People Fast.” Today, the router king is more concerned with the personal growth of employees already on the payroll. “Sixty percent of employees have the skills needed for every job,” says senior VP of human resources Kate DCamp. “When it was hire, hire, hire, we were limiting (their) opportunities.” Cisco now uses e-learning to assess, for example, an engineering employee’s interest in a marketing position. The company lets people virtually shadow jobs they’d like and then self-train at their own pace. When jobs open up, Cisco HR can easily search for qualified internal candidates. It’s Brand You with an Intel Inside tag slapped on. Not quite a revolution, but it beats thinking of yourself as a box of detergent.

2005 seems much more preferable than the mad dash to hire and lay-off everyone we have today. It took me finding the original '97 manifesto to understand the current hubbub about the “gig economy”. I did not realise I missed this: even full time employees have to personal brand to STAY employed. All the social services are tied to the job in the West.
Personal brands are dumb, I’m not a politician on campaign. I’ve seen people start using LinkedIn like Facebook. Yuck. I have a music nerd friend that avoids music videos. He says they’re funny maybe once and detract from the potentially timeless song.
Dankpods is one of the few successful brand-people, one man MCN that he is, and he still has variety on the main channel. (if it runs on electricity I’ll yell at it). What did the “brand” do for him? When I show his videos to my friends half of them think he’s unbearably annoying. 1.6 million subs and he was excited at being “discovered” by T-pain during a stream. Recently he stopped following the weekly video schedule.
Even the despicable paparazzi had to know people, go to parties, talk to people to hear the latest gossip. Then they just hacked their phones lol, and now they just report on public tweets and tiktoks…

I think the old ways are coming back in more ways, too. “BookTok” shows there’s demand for dedicated critics and curators again. Hopefully enough people figured out by now that it’s better to follow a handful of reviewers with similar tastes to them than waiting for IGN’s 7/10.
Recently I’ve been warming up to the idea of VTubers. I’ve heard a guy say he uses it because privacy. No need for his face, he posts linux tutorials. Another girl uses them for cheap motion-capture for machinima/animated sketches. She recently released body-pillows with said avatar.

facebook and friends

On one forum, a woman called her soon-to-be husband a grinch for threatening to make their hashtag #donotfuckingpostaboutmywedding.(Here Comes the Brand. It’s the most important day of your… | by Alana Hope Levinson | The Message | Medium)

I separated this, since it’s discussing a public event, rather than a requirement to be “on” 24/7. I’ve had similar experiences with facebook back then. We weren’t using #s back then, but I did take pictures at a couple of banquets, made them public and tagged people. Kept getting likes whenever someone got a new girlfriend lol.
“Interestingly, the most likes/faves happen the next day, when people love to review the moments they were probably too drunk to remember”. We like to dunk on facebook now, but it was nice. Most activity was local, classmates, neighbors little flash games (Zynga and its consequences…). People were posting song lyrics, and tagging people in a big chess-board looking picture, with squares tagged with “the funny one”, “the pretty one”. We did use it as a small, local thing. Hell, when looking for some “Jane” getting a list of a million people from the entire country was more of an annoyance than help. Me point is the best moments of it were never the endless feed itself, that was at best an RSS with comments, but the direct interactions and tags from local people you could meet outside. FB suing the creator of “unfollow everything” is such a strong mission statement… I did clean up my feed manually a while ago. Now, it’s full of “recommended” garbage. It doesn’t even have the “only followed” feed like Instagram. It failed to notify me about multiple DMs. It’s over. Nostalgia or not, this thing’s useless…
I’ll stick with instagram a bit longer, many IRL friends are still active. The option for a clean TIMEline is still there. I’m still attached to that image of pretentious coffee shops, rather than the tiktok bootleg of today. I’ll try to contact them, I haven’t kept up since 2019. Maybe some PixelFed propaganda will stick.

It’s been nice reading articles from 2012-16-ish, back when FB weren’t inciting hate or selling access to your own audience. Research shows that oversharing isn’t tied to narcissism, but simply to overall happiness. Some personality types tie their self-worth to relations with people around them. They would do that without insta too, but it’s easy to count the number of photos on a social network.

Touching grass

I’ve noticed a trend, people hitting their 30s like to mention “internet addiction”.

in my (very personal) experience a kind people who waste their “life” online don’t have any sort of life to begin with. It’s not their addictive personality that causes it, more like them having nothing significant in life outside job and a few obligatory social contacts. The message should be not “get off the internet”, but “get a life”. I really don’t get this “boohoo can’t put down this effing phone for a second” thing, it seems like a byproduct of something else.

it’s like whenever you leave a loud party and your ears are still ringing from inside and you’ve been so stimulated by the music inside that just coming back down to your Baseline it feels weird it feels like you’re almost missing something but after a while that sensation kind of goes away. When you stop compulsively checking the internet you can actually think for yourself and have your own opinions. For a long time I would just be way too “terminally online” I guess you would say and I’ll basically get all of my opinions regurgitated from somebody else online like some YouTube video or some Reddit post. I would just get a lot of my opinions and thoughts from there but once you spend less time online you can actually kind of Mull over things in your own mind. This is like a basic human function that we’ve basically lost by using the internet too much.

Stop stop stop stop. No life experience is a waste. Use what you have mastered to further your other goals. There is no get to this point and stop. What stops is your normal routine and a new one starts. :heart:

I used to joke that Youtube is predicting my interests, I guess in reality I just have banale thoughts molded by the algorithm.
So I want to start making stuff as a way to move on, and “get a life”. I’m not a creative, after I folded enough paper organizers and drawers and decorated the rest of the room with Origami figures, something stopped. None of this is “artsy”, I’m following instructions. Maybe creating instructions would fit but that’s engineering. What I’m doing is manufacturing. Building a personal brand kinda makes sense for people starting out, figuring out who they are, that don’t have a corporate team to hurt by doing so. Yes I’m doing this at 25, I had good grades but I told you I’m a slow learner. Not a creative, I mostly sort stuff into boxes. I don’t have much going on now that I’ve dropped out of college. I’m not expecting to get famous, I just don’t feel that creative energy at the moment, I want a destination for creating stuff for now, to get the ball rolling a bit. I have maybe one discord friend to show-off stuff to, and another anime discord server where I post rants like this a couple times a year. (And you can see how I struggle to write without links and quoting youtube clips directly).

I was mulling over platforms at the start, I’ll be posting on insta for a while until I get my bearings. (All modern phone cameras take really tall 1:2 aspect ratio pics. Insta insist on square posts. Unless sometimes videos are allowed to be tall. And stories are allowed to be a bit tall. It’s a mess)

I kept thinking, why am I not as cooked on social media as everyone else? Then it hit me: I didn’t use them. Like, between 2016 and 2022 I was too busy with school to do stuff on the side, it was all video-games and people on Skype/Discord. WhatsApp groups. I never really relied on Facebook for much more than DMs, and now they’re failing to deliver those too. I’ve seen people use LinkedIn to replace facebook. Yuck.
I really hope ActivityPub catches on, “smaller web” really seems to be the way to go, normal people can’t keep up with more than 100 or so connections. And it pains me every time a forum closes because they moved to Discord. Those first person essays I mentioned are mostly on small-run newsletters these days.

Young people themselves will tell you they have, at best, an ambivalent relationship to their internet. The more alienating the mass internet is to me, the more likely I will put to good use the hours I previously spent messing around. Or, at least, the more likely it is I will find corners — group chats, message boards and elsewhere — geared to my specific interests rather than the general engagement bait that otherwise dominates.

I’m Gen X, there’s virtually no new music being made by people of my generation, and music made by young people seems commercial, derivative, inauthentic, and soulless. So I just re-listen to decades of old music.
The same phenomenon applies to social media, except you can’t “re-listen” to old social media.

Many XDA devs moved to telegram sadly, as far as I’m concerned it has all the same issues as discord. But Murena’s /e/ forum is weird to sign up for, they want some sort of corporate email approved from Gitlab. Some torrent sites want custom clients for their forums. Discord servers that ask for real-life ID can get(I recently checked, that one server that annoyed me now allows you to cover all the personal identifiable info besides the D.O.B., so that’s nice. I am waiting on Facebook and Youtube to allow that too). Floatplane still doesn’t show up in search results.

“The internet hasn’t been much fun since ARPANET!”

I’ve seen this quote a few times, and I thought it was a joke, but it appears that “good people migrating between decaying websites” has been a thing since the beginning.

I hope none of this comes off as the 16 year old that lectures you about stuff you’ve taught all your life.

That’s good to hear!
Y’know, Techlore (privacy guides channel) shut down their discord due to privacy reasons and moved everything to a discuss forum like this one, instant messages and all. He talked about disabling the youtube comments too, for “peace of mind” reasons .

I’m actually replying to the blogpost here

Truth be told, I got home internet in 2014, and by then the only way to see posts disconnected from the creators like that was 9gag, and people were still mentioning the lack of credit. Well, a lot of people were posting images with no links on facebook too. Shout out to HOME, for being too hard to find, he goes by multiple names on many platforms (SlimeTony, was it?), his songs get taken down from youtube all the time. By chance Tyler McVicker commissioned him to make some background music for his streams, by the end there were 4 albums. All available to download on his discord, if the search function works that day.

Following creators didn’t seem bad at the time, with the internet being all about direct connections and all. I arrived too late to realize the disappearance of “web-loggers” or other curators had happened. It seemed so binary: You want more of this? follow the guy to see his next thing. Or don’t, and lose him forever. These endless feeds killed curators, editorials, articles of " best things of 200X". Why read one nerd’s article when I can count the likes myself! I still have one guy in my friend circle that brings up how “the iPhone and Fortnite are the best things evar” because they’re popular.

Regarding comments, I kept facebook for a long while because a lot of times the comments were calling out the bullshit in some paid-for PcGamer article, and using RSS feeds meant I was missing out on that information. It took too long for me to figure out I could just unfollow PcGamer and find other websites.

Instead, you have to master the performance. Master chasing trends, inciting argument, getting the attention on you, not your work.

It’s almost beyond parody that LinusMediaGroup opened up a testing lab because tech journalists aren’t doing the journalisming anymore.


I’ve seen a handful of published books that are just blogs, printed. I even own one of them. Tbh it’s not very meaningful, it’s little more than CinemaSins but for regular romanian TV.

I uhhh am guilty of adding deep involved videos to “Watch later” and consuming the daily slop as soon as it’s released. I’m kicking that habit, mostly by being very busy these days and unsubscribing from daily uploads channels. I think it’s also a bit related to age, as a kid I struggled to follow along big movie plots, but didn’t have that issue with books. More recently I had no issues with “The LEGO Movie” but people 5 years older than me complained that it was too fast.
The meaningful-work thing is a spiky issue by itself… Here, under communism things were hard to get, so only the good shit was distributed. Or it was good due to state funding only a handful of good artists. Or maybe we thought it was good due to lack of comparison. AGAIN, abundance of art turning into entertainment, encouraging to connect with it, I dunno… I’ll vaguely point to AVGN, the critics have to be just as much entertainers and artists as the artists themselves, to build their own platform. NYT was lamenting that their praises no longer guarantee “best-sellers”.

People have improvised two solutions to this: 2 hour essay that pre-chews all the meaning, so they do get it, even if it’s easier. Or, going fast through them, like piracy Gamepass/Steam demo fests, or that time Spotify tried to make tiktok for music videos and released it with their wrapped. At least for games, it’s easy to tell a bad one from the start, and some good ones do get bad later. People are really averse to the “it gets good after 100 hours” these days. They see devs pushing hundreds of patches every day, and want to make sure one patch, that cuts out the starting crap, is one of them.
Here I should address shorts & scrolling. I’m not against short clips, but I’m old enough to be annoyed by the vertical video. I can just rotate my phone dammit! I found a few channels that create short original content, with the occasional longer episode for holidays. I also like it when people post the 5 minutes clip about one topic from a podcast. I’m not sure how to handle the endless scrolling though. Unhooked helps. A lot of the time I just click on a channel name I recently searched for, and check 2-3 channels for new videos manually. I want to say “boredom good, it makes you try things”, but I remember boredom as a kid, it made my shoulders hurt I hated it so much.

There’s a point where the utility of these platforms gets thrown to the wayside and it becomes a mindless, numbing period. Information is no use when it goes unused. When mindlessly consuming endless information it comes to a point where you look at yourself in the mirror and realize that the addiction to the constant flow is what controls your time spend, rather than the pursuit of entertainment or education.
It’s so easy to reason with yourself that “I have no use for that site or music as of this moment, I’d like to study, work on a personal project, exercise, read, or clean some things instead”.
Boring is not bad. We should not be fearful of it.

Replaced with AI art?

"You can’t be such an advocate for tools designed explicitly to bypass skill, experience, and artistic integrity while possessing any of those qualities yourself." ~The Jimquisition
The best framing of AI art I’ve ever seen is - if you didn’t think it was worth paying an artist to make your product, why should I consider it worth spending money to buy it? ~@hannarchy6554

In France, though, it’s a different story; anything that is an original work can be covered by copyright, “even a tool, or even toilets,” according to Soudri. “It must be a reflection of the personality of its author,” she said. “This is exactly the case for AirBnB. Zoe’s showroom and apartment is the true reflection of her personality.” It is for this reason, Soudri posits, that Airbnb doesn’t want the case tried in France.
He called it parasitisme économique — is even more compelling in this case. “When a firm conducts itself like a ‘parasit’ (it means that it steals commercial ideas from others),” he wrote in an email, “it has to pay damages to the first person who had commercialized products based on the stolen ideas.”

I have seen this recently. In the past, Ross Scott made a video about Deus Ex “because I have things to say about it I haven’t seen anywhere else” with over half the video being a “tangent” with custom graphics and all. During a QnA, someone asked him about the lack of “tangents” in recent episodes. You can watch him have the same revelation in real time: “You’re just getting on board with my train of thought […] I haven’t been very conscious of this process is the problem, it just sort of happens sometimes”.

The only conclusion I have is, now I understand why writing on paper is so important. It prevents this “browser history” writing style.

What a great post. This kind of thoughtfulness is exactly what I’d hoped for with the forums. I’ll just start jumping in, I guess, haha.

The fascinating part about the books/articles around this time is that they were CERTAIN that this was going to happen no matter what - but at the time? Everyone called “bullshit” and didn’t believe it.
I think people don’t consider how long (in the moment, very short in retrospect) these changes take to happen. In hindsight it also seems inescapable.

I mean… I’d argue his “personal brand” is quite strong. People associate all sorts of specific visuals or topics to be covered, presentation styles, etc. “his thing” and associate it with him. I feel like this doesn’t mesh with your other points here, as DankPods has 100% benefitted from a recognizable brand. Maybe not in the traditional business sense, but as a creator… for sure. Your friends finding him annoying doesn’t nullify that.
Part of Primal Branding (which was 100% what drove most marketing success until the past ~10 years when everything became about being sanitized to appeal to as many people as possible with no detractors) is having a somewhat polarizing presence. If your branding/presentation is turning some people away, then the people it’s attracting are that much more invested.

I’ve also been interested in vtuber tech - even as someone who has had his face on-camera for nearly 2 decades - just because it seems like a more relaxed way to host, without caring as much about what I look like in the moment.

IMO early social media was a fucking eutopia. It might have still been a downgrade from the truly decentralized/free nature of the web before it, but early on everything was still interoperable, not made to farm engagement for money, and actually connected people more than they had been before - way better than now.

IMO this is way too judgy. You’re correct, early internet and “always online” nature definitely attracts the kind of person that doesn’t have a big IRL social support system or seeks many experiences in that way - but people are just… like that. There’s no reason to dunk on someone who doesn’t have those needs.
That being said, this kind of line-in-the-sand drawing only applies to fully-grown adults. The way modern society has integrated and become dependent on online communication and services is pervasive in every aspect of our lives, down to early grade school education. Kids are brought up basically being groomed into being unable to leave their phone or tablet behind for more than a minute, even if they do (and want to) spend time with other people and “have a life.”
We’re long past the days of the people who “can’t leave” just being people who “don’t have a life.”
Recommended reading here: Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention - and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari.

100% agree

Nothin’ inherently wrong with that. Being able to pull so many references and context is actually showing strong writing/information synthesis skills, for web writing. Wouldn’t work for written publication aside from research contexts and putting them all in a Works Cited, but very productive for web writing.

EVERYONE is creative. Just might not be the same kind of creativity as everyone else, but everyone is creative (when their other needs are met, sleep well enough, etc.). But also even just documenting life for yourself/for your family, sharing what you’re interested in (even if you’re not the one making that stuff) etc. all can be fulfilling.

Finding/carving out our little corners of the internet was the only way the system worked. Putting everyone in the same room for anything other than brief global check-ins was always a recipe for disaster.

There’s uh, countless Gen X artists/bands still releasing music today lol. Also the “young people music” thing is mostly a stick-up-butt old person mindset and only works if you are just glancing at pop music. Laxing on that and you can come to enjoy plenty more. I was that way for a bit, but EVERY generation goes through that and it’s rarely true.
And you CAN “re-listen” to social media, or at least the better days of the web! Not by literally re-living the same posts, of course, but by using the tools, websites, the ways you use it that are healthier and stimulate your brain better, rather than baking it in toxins. You’re doing it right now! You’re on a forum in 2024!
(Also I feel like this was a broken quote/link from something, since you said you were 25 before. It was probably a quote from the above-linked article, but it’s paywalled so I couldn’t check.)

Heh… yeeeeeeah. I’ve been thinking that, too.

I mean… yes. Printing out a random website doesn’t make it meaningful. Making meaningful works worthy of being kept for generations on a page, makes it meaningful.

This is loaded and beyond bullshit once you get down to the nitty gritty of it, and 100% hypocritical by the vast majority of people who say it (not specifically including Jimquisition in that) but that’s a topic for another day.

I cannot emphasize this enough: In an era of micro-blogging turned complete-thoughts and 240 character reactions, hyperbole, 60 second videos, etc. - what you’ve shown here is the start of VERY strong writing potential. Being able to pull all these sources together and use them to build/provide context - with some work and more time spent organizing thoughts, etc. would be the basis for very very great writing. Most people cannot do this anymore. Yes, writing things down to organize and structure your thoughts separate from your sources is valuable and often a necessary step, but the breadth of sources you’re able to reference and use to contextualize your points is basically a lost art at this point.
Modern comments sections and short-form social media have convinced everyone that anything long is not worth reading, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The internet needs more thoughtful posts like this.

Oh wow you made a main channel video on this. It’s nice. :confetti_ball:

yeahhhh your forum theme kindly camouflages how much of my post is direct quotes. It’s more obvious in the editor.

They’re markdown quotes, so they are aligned further back than the rest of the text. The GenX guy is @harrym from the comments of this article
I like that cover art, the article itself is so-so.
inb4 paywall. I’m not sure if you saw it, I also posted on the discord an archive link for that Washington post discord leaks article you asked for (it’s this one
I recommend magnolia1234’s “Bypass Paywalls Clean” extension (I’m not sure if this breaks the forum’s rules about piracy, but I’m sure NYT will be fine).

I’ll blame my weird mental gymnastics for this one. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of “internet culture” in real life, and got used to that real fast. (Seeing serpentZA quoted as a source on TV, my brother’s kid had a Poppy’s Playtime chew toy, they’re selling skibiddy… somethings at newspaper stands). It was a bit of a wake-up call seeing someone “internet famous” be so small next to a “real” famous guy. I’ll take the L.

First time I see that word. 1 sec… “[…]eutopia refers to a society that is actually achievable and sustainable.” There’s the argument that those websites that offered everything for free with no monetization were never sustainable beyond low-interest VC, but that’s the “I just saw a WAN show clip about the time of Facebook’s IPO.” talking, all this stuff goes wayyy over my head. I’m glad I’m not the only one that noticed that nice balance. I got home internet in 2014, I still have some catching up to do with the flash era.

y’know, I do have a big book o’politics that uses about as many links as I do.

Then again, I also own Ready Player One, so maybe I just have crappy books. I’ll check out those you linked… eventually.

forums in 2024

I am grateful for the forum. I find great value in youtube comments, but lately over half my comments get erased the second I hit send. So I’ll be sticking with forums out of necessity if nothing else. I can only properly keep up with 2-3 Discord servers at a time, I don’t really have room for two theoretically infinite universes in my house. (I am particularly salty about the Dota-AllStars forums getting taken down for “back-ups and maintenance” only to be replaced with an ad for League of Legends. The back-up was accessible on the web for a while in 2018, but that seems to be gone again.)


I don’t have much more to say on AI, didn’t keep up much with the news. I edited the post after a while to change the chapter name to “artists getting replaced”. I just wanted to point out Stray Souls as an example of a “commercial product”, an asset flip with Ai generated assets. And the older example of big corpos getting prosecuted for being copy-cats, in France. I obviously have no right to complain with this tapestry of quotes for my reply, lol.

I don’t read either, I use Firefox’s integrated speed-reader/text-to-speech F9 thing for the sake of avoiding eye-strain. It works with forums too, sometimes. Every big block of text seems a lot smaller with the ~6 minutes at the top. There’s also this thing I like , it even works with arbitrary text files, but it’s a bit of a chore digging up the audio files from deep inside the browser config files. (pro tip, quick reinstall for more free time)

I find it fascinating how tech finds its uses with unexpected audiences. Like, intuition tells us young people should love e-books, because “they’re gonna eat tech”, but in reality it’s older folks that really want that convenience of getting all of the books from their couch, even if overpriced. (Also, fonts as big as you want). And young people go for paperbacks because they’re cheaper and they enjoy going out for any reason, and going to a place to meet other people with similar interests is important to them. If only people took a second to think about technology stuff instead of, well…

Yeast Yarn Yurp

City hall wanted a digital signature. I’ve spent too much time learning about digital signage and certificates, because their instructions specified them. After further questioning, they just wanted the documents printed out, signed with a pen, and a photo of the little collage sent via WhatsApp.

University wanted classes via Zoom. After 6 months of doing no courses, they made us take exams on the classes we didn’t get. They called the police to shut down a petition website complaining about this mess. Eventually classes were moved to Skype because zoom is terrible.
One teacher actually tried to use forums, it made sense to have the projects from previous years accessible in a convenient way, but the whole thing was just too old and broken. The teacher was too old too. I’m not being ageist, he was going deaf and constantly getting triggered at random things.
Another teacher used Powerpoints and books with intentional errors to spot out people working from the learning materials. His classes didn’t explain anything, he was just going over the book page by page to list out the mistakes. He had to make sure you’re not using tech to learn.
No high-school journalism or A/V clubs. I think I’ve heard about a HAM radio club in college…

I can’t stress enough how hard creativity is beaten out of people around these parts. It might be cliche to blame school for this, but look: For literature, school wants us to learn commentaries by heart. No one wants to read what you have to say about the boring book about people killing each other over land, you’re not even supposed to read it. Quote the intro of the commentary literally, then the rest of the thing too. (iirc for my finals I wrote a character analysis from the perspective of the land itself. Since I didn’t know how the book ended, I couldn’t tackle any specific character. Scored 85%!)

ending, ending… On the topic of lack of endings and recycled words, here’s someone else talking about a game about endings and escaping big media:

For what it’s worth, it seems to me that young people treat the internet like millennials treat cars. “Yeah grandpa, I’m sure for you waiting a year for your order of a Dacia 1300 was a great experience that opened up the world and gave you access to tons of new experiences. But those gas guzzlers are too expensive and are ruining my world at the moment, so I’ll just take the trams k thx bye”.

(and uhh, thanks for the pick-me-up. it took 3 days to put together that first reply and that made my dad angry, he smashed the tv because logic.)

your dad… smashed the TV because you took 3 days to reply to a forum post?

So, I do that 10 000 steps daily thing. More like 20 000 every two days. I didn’t go touch grass outside for three days because it was raining. Why yes, balkan men are well adjusted people that deserve EU investments :grimacing: Sorry for going off-topic