Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

On social media…

Social media is awful.

Not exactly news, but something I’ve been mulling over a lot lately. I’m old enough, and techy enough to remember the very early days of the internet, where you dialed in with a 28k modem and paid by the minute to be online. In many ways the experience sucked, slow downloads (google was initially popular because its homepage loaded quickly), no possibility of video, and only real maniacs bought and sold stuff online.

But in many ways, it was much better then than now. There were few people online, and very little commercialisation, so nobody tried to monetize the net. Accessing it was slow and expensive, so encouraging people to be online all the time was impossible. There was no social media, and there was a thing called ‘netiquette’ that people actually (mostly) took seriously.

In 2020, the internet is an absolute cesspit, bringing out the absolute worst in human behavior. Its almost impossible to enjoy surfing the web without being sucked into social media. Every site wants you to log in with your social media usernames, so you can be tracked, analyzed, categorised and above-all, monetized. Clearly at some point, someone realized that the one thing that keeps people online (and thus seeing ads) was anger. Anger is the ultimate emotion. Get people angry and they will keep posting, retweeting liking, replying, hating.

The lack of moderation on youtube, twitter, reddit, facebook is not an accident. its not penny-pinching or ineptitude or cost cutting. It is deliberate. Its trivial to have a blocklist of 1,000 most common abusive terms, and shadow ban anybody for 24 hours if they use >1 of those per day. Trivial. 5 minutes coding. no cost, easy. But that might reduce monetization, so it will never, ever happen.

I know people with 100+ word blocklists for twitter who say they still find browsing the site infuriating and abusive. This is insane. We have all got addicted to anger, fury, yelling at strangers online. It affects all our mental health, and achieves nothing. How many people’s opinions are changed by twitter hashtags? if it was >0 Bernie Sanders would be president and Jeremy Corbyn would be prime minister.

The weirdest thing is I have found it affecting my own thinking in a stupid and unproductive way. Not only do I sometimes see something or do something that makes me think ‘ooh! this would make a great tweet’, instead of just enjoying/laughing at it, I actually feel a real *pull* now to ‘engage’ on social media.

A few nights ago I watched a fairly good(ish) thriller movie. Last night I rewatched The Rise of Skywalker. I could tell you what I thought about both of them if you like… but honestly why do you care? There are professional movie reviewers out there. I’ve almost forgotten what its like to read an article/listen to music/watch some TV and NOT tell the whole world what was good/bad/interesting/silly about it. Look at me! I watched a TV show, here is my HOT TAKE that you all NEED right now. How bad does it get? I ate a sausage roll this lunchtime. it was ‘meh’. OMG HOLD THE FUCKING FRONT PAGE.

In some ways, this is harmless, but in others its just a massive waste of human potential. How much time in my life has been wasted reading random stranger’s hot takes on the new X men movie, or hearing what they think of Socialism/Superhero movies/Elon Musk/Cats vs Dogs? How has my life been enriched at any point, in even a small way, by seeing hashtags? Why do I care what Sylvia in Chicago thinks about Trans bathroom rights? Why should I care if Donald in Michigan is a ‘proud trump supporter’, how the fuck is it neccesary for me to know what random strangers think about fringe issues and conspiracy theories…?

I’ve had a blog for a long time (a REAL long time), and I think its a much better place for writing down thoughts. They can be long form, actually edited (omg imagine the technology), they can’t be taken down by some silicon valley dicks who think they can censor the internet (this is my own wordpress install on a server my company rents), and if I dont like peoples replies or comments I can just fucking delete them, or even ban the commenters. I think I vastly prefer blogging to social media.

So I have totally abandoned facebook, (I have an account purely to message people in my village, and manage my existing pages for games), and am trying to restrain myself from using twitter. (I have zero belief that using twitter really gives you any kind of real business benefits in 2020. All those game devs retweeting your game announcement are just gamedevs, they also are followed only by each other. Its not going to move the needle in terms of marketing.) In a perfect world, I’ll have disappeared from all social media in a few months time, and be happier and healthier for it. meanwhile people can continue hurling abuse at each other without me needing to know about it.

I normally tweet about new blog posts, but seriously, why should I do that?

11 thoughts on On social media…

  1. I love it. I shared it on Facebook, along with this tag:

    “Cliff and I and other greying gents will be over on the blogosphere, pining for Google Reader and shaking our fists at the clouds.”

    I appreciate your long-form writing, mate. Thanks for taking the time. Cheers!

  2. Amen, I’m back to using an RSS reader and following individual blogs.

    Night and day.

  3. What ruined the internet for me is Google. Their optimisation is compromised and people heavily abuse it to artificially get higher in the ranking. It really shows in the quality. Everything screams that pages are written by marketeers instead of people with a passion. Those with the passion might not have the knowledge (and definitely not the budget) to outdo the marketeers, hence you’ll never find them.

    Google is filled with the same websites. If you search for a movie, you’ll get IMDb, Rottentomatoes and MetaCritic. Got a question about tech? Here’s as always Techradar, Tomsguide, TechAdvisor and PCMag. I hate all of them, and I hate Quora and I hate Forbes.

    We’re stuck in a hive of the one hundred “most popular” (read: most unavoidable) websites. By God’s grace this website shows up on the first page if you search for “developer games blog”. But I have no idea how to find other websites or blogs like it without sifting through a ton of shite.

    I miss the old internet severely. Browsing through directories instead of search engines. We were colleagues, not competitors, linking to each other’s websites on our websites. When I was eleven years old I made my first website and even that website had traffic and e-mails from readers. Now I barely know which websites I visited an hour ago because the attention merchants really hate for you to focus. I miss the engagement with people so much.

  4. I’ve left Facebook too ages ago because of these same reasons. It was just hate posting and anger all the time. Some posts were nice but in the end of the day, it was just pure waste of time. So I left. I still have an account there to which I login like once a year but basically I don’t use Facebook anymore.

    Besides, there’s enough timesinks in my life already with the appearance of Discord and multiple servers I’m on.

    I really hate it that everything is fueled or at least tried to be fueled with anger, hate or sadness or other emotions. Just let me read things in a neutral fashion instead of forcing me these “She did what? And you won’t believe what happened next! CLICK RIGHT HERE! THIS WILL SHOCK YOU!” -titles, topics and news.

    Those are the reasons why I have actively reduced my presence on all social media platforms, reduced consumption of afternoon newspapers to very close to zero and so on. Also when I feel really angry and feel like I need to went my anger to somewhere, I do it on a discord server where I know it will be contained so I don’t spread the powerful negative feelings to other people on a social media. So far it has worked and I have had my release valve. Hopefully this setup works to far future too.

    1. I haven’t really got into discord TBH. I only use it for voice chat with people I play an FPS with, or to chat to coworkers about stuff because its voice implementation is better than skype. I know its very popular, but for me its just one more new thing to use…

  5. Honestly I think that Twitter works fairly well as a content aggregator for, say, following artists. But actually using it as a social media platform? Perish the thought!

  6. Good post!!

    Yip, the internet turned from an anything goes to marxist activism BS.. (wanting change not truth).
    Mostly in the last 10years I think.
    I’ve been back on RSS for the last year and it’s great.. I use seamonkey (the old mozilla browser with everything creator & mail)

    Discord is interesting, it’s like IRC back in the day.
    So I thought it was great at first, but started seeing problems, the twatter group think, safespace culture and of course the popularity idiots trolls are there too.

    I’ve noticed, most discord server I’ve joined can’t focus on the topic it was set up for!
    ie hand made network and game from scratch are perfect examples:
    You would think they focus on low level stuff and hand made tech.
    They don’t even have a single miserable channel just for hand made tech, ie not script engine stuff.

    I’ve been in two different PSXDEV servers and the owners couldn’t “control” the unity3D PS1 shader coders.. like it’s all the same???? FFS LMAO absolutely ridiculous!

    Because it’s not ‘inclusive’ so it’s anything goes, and it turns to noise and a waste of time.
    So I think discord is more of the same, only good for setuping spam bots and “marketing”.

    But there’s one that seems to be doing a good job re game engine dev, Harold Serrano’s untold engine, is on topic.

  7. I really do think the utility of a social media platform like Twitter solely exists in bridging 2+ groups that have expertise, sincere interest, or applicable skills in a complex field.

    Learning about ecological reconciliation efforts in a watershed I have experience with or a meta-analysis of environmental policies from somebody who has 30 years working as an environmental scientist and teacher is… Uhhh… Super great. Actually great!

    But even just doing that with too much of your time means you won’t be able to pay attention to the few gems you ARE finding, nevermind the tendency to be a “shitposter” or to lurk for hours and hours. There is absolutely a utility to social media, and all the platforms are designed in such a way to shrink that utility to zero over time, like an all-devouring maw driven by entropy.

    We could have platforms that are content agnostic, structured for smaller groups, stronger on anti-harassment measures, based on geography, or any number of things that would drive the utility of using them up, but it seems like some silicon valley capitalism has rotted the mainstream tech world from the inside out. It’s unfortunate that market pressures are so much stronger than our conscious desires, because we can’t just let whatever is the most profitable thing to continue to grow when it only inspires radicalization and vitriol.

    Humans absolutely need to regulate ourselves against our own desires, and I would hope we someday learn how to use tech to aid us in that goal rather than as an amplifier for our worst qualities.

    I feel bad that social media worsens your mood and your day. As always, love your blog posts.

    Thanks Cliff!

  8. The real issue is that most people are stupid. The last 20 years in gaming has been software theft on a mass scale, and the internet has revealed the public to be stupid beyond all comprehension. Steam, uplay, origin, epic games store, windows 10 all are attacks on privacy and software ownership on a mass scale. The internet has made it trivial to steal software and also take over our PC’s. Since two or more PC’s in a network behave as as single machine.

    The internet is one giant world sized PC motherboard and our PC’s and mobile devices are chips in it that are being reprogrammed by the corporate world. Social media is a distraction from the fact that we’ve built a kind of “superorganism” by linking up all the buildings and computer equipment on the planet. We don’t feel like we’ve had a hardware dongle installed on our PC’s, but that’s what the internet is when most of the planet is computer illiterate.

    Microsoft and big software companies are now “in command” of the network of the planet, since programming in a networked world is “issuing commands” from on high to the devices below, add in mass computer illiteracy and you get a disaster.

    One of the reasons the internet is so toxic is because governments and corporations want it that way, the internet is the greatest threat to the upper classes of the world in world history because it can leak data like this:

    So you can bet the reason social media is toxic is because it’s to keep the public in the dark and distracted and under the control of the upper class. Time to think a little deeper.

    Google “edward snowden” leaks, now why would the US need a mass spy aparratus if it wasn’t to keep the general publics of the world under their control?

    So just remember the internet is the biggest threat to the upper classes, and you exist in a privileged position in the UK, you’re forgetting the masses of poor and oppressed in the world. They fear the worlds poor uprising.

    You being rich westerner are a little out of touch with global politics.

  9. @Richard Your words stuck in my head..
    “I miss the old internet severely. Browsing through directories instead of search engines. We were colleagues, not competitors, linking to each other’s websites on our websites. When I was eleven years old I made my first website and even that website had traffic and e-mails from readers. Now I barely know which websites I visited an hour ago because the attention merchants really hate for you to focus. I miss the engagement with people so much.”

    So very true.. there is a bit of the old ways coming back as more and more people wake up to the nightmare that hive sites are, ie:

    “So just remember the internet is the biggest threat to the upper classes, and you exist in a privileged position in the UK, you’re forgetting the masses of poor and oppressed in the world. They fear the worlds poor uprising.

    You being rich westerner are a little out of touch with global politics.”

    That to me doesn’t make sense.. capitalism (from china, the west, etc) has helped poor countries from poverty.

    The “poor and oppressed” and evil “rich” white straight males are the oppressors right? GTFO with that marxist BS!

    Obviously don’t know Cliff:

  10. I prefer to be anon online and so have one rule. If they demand your phone number, do not give it. They did not need that info when they were coming up in the 1990s and 2000s. They only started demanding it when they became monopolies.

    I see the Internet as a double edged sword. There is so much useful info on it that can help you get work done, and so much useless stuff that is addictive and wastes your time. I got more work done before I had an Internet connection, but my code was utter rubbish. ;)

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