The Internet. Privacy. Best of both?

The Internet is a public playground. An open medium. A shared platform. It is not “the densest city on Earth turned digital”, or a “true democratic medium”, or a “digital town square”. What happens here is public, and people can (and do) say what they like, and people can (and do) reply with whatever they like. This is essentially how it should be.

But, if I wanted to use the Internet, and be a “private Netizen”, that is also entirely possible, as well. And I don't necessarily mean writing in a notes app that technically utilizes the Internet, and never hitting “publish” – I mean there can be (and are) “nooks”, “corners”, “crannies”, etc. Of the WWW that don't get a lot of “foot traffic”. Little places to call one's own.

I remember in 1996/97 going to my future brother-in-law's apartment and using his computer (that had Internet, wow!), and this was probably my 10th time using “The Net”, if I recall, and I joined a chatroom that had all these visual characters on the screen (kind of looked similar to Bitmoji does now, sorta) and there was this big visual landscape (like MineCraft in a way (MindCraft? I don't even know how it is spelled, tbh)), and I could move around, chat with people, get into groups, socialize digitally. Was cool for the time. Then I tried to see how “far out” I could go in this landscape, and I went way, Way, WAY out to the fringes of this landscape, and something came clear in the distance – I saw a red downward arrow (indicating someone was “out there”). So, I went directly for this red arrow, as it got clearer, less pixelated, and larger. I then found a character (who knows what his name was?) and we “stood” there and chatted for a while. He said he was there because anyone who found him would immediately want to know “why?”, and it would be an icebreaker and such. “Good idea!”, I thought. And I wanted to do something similar if I had owned this software (or if I even had a computer at the time).

But, the point is, the Internet can be like that. It can be a place where (if you make yourself “unseen”, keep your head down, mind your P's and Q's) people can just be themselves, do what they want, express themselves however they choose to. One thing people often complain about on social media, and about social media, is the fact that they are being censored (either algorithmically, or self-censored through...fear, I suppose), and that is a garbage way to live. And it is a matter of priorities: self expression and slightly less foot traffic, or molding to a (false) version of what one could/should be in order to have more reach. That's how I see it.

So, be free. Be yourself. Don't worry about Mr/Ms Popularity. Just do you, it will all work out in the end.

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