everyone's talked about how we live in the most boring dystopia.
well of course. we've got people willingly allowing amazon to put surveillance systems in their living rooms and on their front doors-- the first collects data for advertising, the second forks it over to the cops.
but aside from the lurking horror that is the internet of things, the internet of internet is also pretty fucked up at this point.
it's an oligopoly where the majority of human culture and communication online is controlled by, what? five, six companies? ten maybe?
twitter, reddit, facebook and tumblr are Where Everyone Is, so what's your alternative? how will you meet people otherwise? it feels so lonely now to retreat to little closed-off forums like we used to have, and it's just not feasible to get everybody else to migrate to a different service. for one thing, if a corporation is involved at any level, it doesn't matter what promises the fancy new twitter alternative makes at the start: it will be used to turn a profit.
the idea of mastodon is good in theory, in fact it's great. all the functionality of social media, except it works more like a webring, where it's just a framework that individual users can set up, modify and control from their own server without corporate interference. a federation, like the old web-rings we used to have, except they can interface with each other.
problem is not only is the technology not really there yet (apparently), you'd still have to get people to actually use the fucking thing. the principal issue with social media is that it has to be populated or it's not really worth it.
so we're stuck. inexorably stuck in this shitty, boring little ring of websites. bouncing between twitter, reddit, youtube, twitter, tumblr, youtube, twitter, reddit, twitter, amazon, and facebook (if you're a normie). it's the path of least resistance, and there's so many caveats to the alternatives it's hard to convince yourself to migrate, much less other people.
we're stuck and we're beholden to whatever the corporation wants to do to make more money. like tumblr banning everything horny when it was the main place for weird gay kids to explore their sexuality.
but let's talk about The Algorithm.
The Algorithm, the modern horror, the shitty boring version of Skynet, this opaque and unknowable AI phantom that can ruin your life for no discernable reason.
another thing about social media is that it's vital for creators to get as much visibility as possible. whether that's on youtube or twitter or whatever, people need that visibility to make a living. but now, what you see is controlled by The Algorithm, supposedly in place to learn your preferences and show you what you want to see, but all it really does is make the 'timeline' into a bizarre and disjointed barely-readable mess. so creators get fucked over randomly, without being told why, often without being able to do jack shit about it unless they're big and popular. and each website continues to make weird, inscrutable, silent changes to the way The Algorithm makes engagement happen, fucking people over more, forcing them to spread rumors and hypothesis about how the new change might work and how on earth they'll get around it this time.
let's zero in on Twitter because that's what i'm pissy about right now. i hate Twitter. i love twitter, as in the place, the people, the passive mode of communication where i can engage when and how i want to with my friends, even if that's just watching them do their thing and live their lives. that's a godsend for mentally disabled people like me, and it's vital for the outcast and marginalized to be able to find other people like them and form real friendships despite it being an almost impossible prospect in the meat-world. i love sitting around posting bullshit, talking to friends, looking at their stuff, retweeting cool art and funny jokes, that's all fine and dandy. i love roleplaying, too.
but i hate Twitter, the company. Twitter is on a crusade to ruin everything i love about twitter.
in the past week, i finally decided to get back into twitter roleplay. it's a fun place for roleplaying because the posts are generally small, the tone is casual, and it's easy to find lots of other like-minded RPers in the same fandom to banter and collaborate with. i blew a bunch of money on commissions to get a cool avatar and header image, made my account, and had a great time for a couple days.
then i got Shadow Banned.
Shadow Banned. it describes itself perfectly. in some poorly-defined, janky way, my account's replies were now mostly hidden from view, severely crippling my ability to actually continue an RP thread. people didn't even know i replied, because Twitter decided to silently suppress me.
i don't know!
yep. that's where we're at. my account got fucked over, and the website didn't even hint at why that might be. it just happened. in fact, with 'shadow' bans, a key aspect is that you don't even know you're banned. i could still see all my posts fine, so it was only when i started hearing that my tweets were all fucked up from my partners that i realized something was wrong. i had to view it from a completely different account just to be able to see it.
so now that account is just stuck, rendered totally useless for some arbitrary amount of time, for some unknown reason.
well, why not contact support, then?
twitter doesn't have support.
that's not an exaggeration. twitter actually doesn't have any kind of reachable support whatsoever. in fact, the only way you might actually get your problem fixed on twitter is if you're big and popular enough to raise a stink, and the @TwitterSupport account pops up to do damage control. for little people with little RP accounts like me, there's no recourse.
because i'm not a customer. i'm not a user. advertisers are the users; the people on twitter are merely the product.
i bet those advertisers get top-notch support. and huge popular accounts get their problems fixed because they're a valuable product that entices lots more suckers to give their perception to Twitter to sell to, i don't know, the navy or some shit.
not me. i'm nothing to Twitter. they don't care, and why should they? i'm just one of millions and millions of replaceable products, like a single fruit in a gigantic shipment; a commodity. they don't lose anything if a few little funny-shaped fruits that weren't gonna sell anyway happen to fall off the truck. they couldn't care less.
so what's my course of action? why, google, of course. because Twitter is a featureless, uncaring monolith which won't deign to talk to me, i have to do my own independent research on some *possible* reasons this might be happening to me.
Twitter themselves say shadow-banning isn't even a thing, only hinting that 'some tweets may be hidden for one reason or another.' so that's no help. i had to sift through link after link trying to find some explanation, all frustrated and angry and confused and hurt that this little source of happiness in my difficult life had been taken away so arbitrarily.
eventually i think i figured it out. i found some mention that shadowbans can occur if "the same content is posted too rapidly" or something like that, because it thinks i'm a spambot. and i could recall just what might have tripped that: i was RPing and i replied too quickly when they weren't done yet, so i ended up having to re-paste my reply to stop from breaking the thread-- twice in a row.
so i begrudgingly accepted that explanation. i took the advice not to tweet for a while so that the arbitrary, invisible timer wouldn't "reset." of cousre i have no way of knowing how true any of this is: it's basically all rumor and superstition, like some strange internet folk ritual, where people don't really know the details and can only work from observation. i was pissed off but at least it made some kind of sense and i'd probably get my shit back.
and then i noticed the same thing happened to a completely different account of mine.
i couldn't think of anything i might have done there that could have attracted the ire of The Algorithm, not that i would have any way of knowing for certain-- and so far i still can't think of anything. i don't know when it happened or how long it'll last. maybe it's fucked forever! maybe it's punishing my linked accounts that use the same email through an old trick we used to use on rp twitter. maybe it doesn't like that i flip old inactive accounts instead of making new ones. maybe it's that i use a widget to delete all my tweets in quick succession.
i have literally no fucking idea, and i have no way of finding out, and no way of fixing the situation. all i can do is wait, and hope, and be pissed off and miserable because all my creative energy and inspiration i had for this RP that brought me joy now has nowhere to go. i just have to sit on my ass and wait, because The Algorithm decided to suppress me, just like The Algorithm arbitrarily decides what replies i can actually see on any given post-- these days, it even hides replies from people on my own tweets seemingly at random, so they don't even show up in my mentions, i have to notice that the little reply number went up and go look for myself.
it's a god damn mess. it's so tangled up and jumbled around by The Algorithm, using some arcane definition of what's hot right now that you'd actually want to see, and you have to fight the damn website just to be able to get it to show you people's posts in chronological order, just like literally everyone ever prefers.
i'm so fucking sick of The Algorithm. i'm so sick of being ruled by corporations who constantly lie about how their damn websites work and continue to make them more and more hostile to their own supposed 'users' just to try and squeeze every last possible cent out of the whole thing.
they really don't give an absolute shit about us anymore. and why would they? we're stuck with them. they've already got us by the balls. they don't have to pretend to care what happens to us now. only what the advertisers want. only that bottom line.
fuck you, jack twitter. let me just use your god damn website. i really don't ask for much at this point. all i want is to be able to use the site, and it can't even provide me that bare minimum functionality.
i'm so tired. the internet used to make me happy. now it just keeps fucking me over.
cyberspace is dead