Maybe We Need more Bubbles

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Unexpectedly, I'm already linking to something about bubbles again! Here's Noah Smith in The Internet Wants to Be Fragmented:

When I first got access to the internet as a kid, the very first thing I did was to find people who liked the same things I liked — science fiction novels and TV shows, Dungeons and Dragons, and so on. In the early days, that was what you did when you got online — you found your people, whether on Usenet or IRC or Web forums or MUSHes and MUDs. Real life was where you had to interact with a bunch of people who rubbed you the wrong way — the coworker who didn’t like your politics, the parents who nagged you to get a real job, the popular kids with their fancy cars. The internet was where you could just go be a dork with other dorks, whether you were an anime fan or a libertarian gun nut or a lonely Christian 40-something or a gay kid who was still in the closet. Community was the escape hatch.

Noah makes the case that "the good old days" of the internet were largely fun because we were all separated into our own bubbles. It wasn't until all our bubbles consolidated around Facebook and Twitter that going online became kinda…painful.

He also makes this point that resonates a ton with me:

It started with the Facebook feed. On the old internet, you could show a different side of yourself in every forum or chat room; but on your Facebook feed, you had to be the same person to everyone you knew.

Not only have these central services thrown us in with people we don't like, they've also pushed us to be one-dimensional as well, lest people yell at us for not sticking to whatever the one thing is they followed us for.