In my personal experience with the internet there have been internet communities that I feel one could map out; places where groups circled. Pre-2000 era locations like BBS, Usenet. And later 4Chan, Digg, the Homestuck community into the Earthbound community into the Undertale community and other common interest forums. Digg people moved to Reddit like refugees for reasons I don’t remember.
In my observation throughout the years these secluded pocket communities feel less and less defined. Now it feels like there is Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, Discord and TikTok; and they all feel like the same community more or less. Of course you have small circles like this one, but even this forum seems counter-cultural. Now it just seems like everybody uses the same 5 media spouts. Any unique cultural circles have disappeared and have all met up in a globalized internet.
When browsing the old web it is so patently clear that a piece of writing I encounter is from a particular circle. It contains such a style, not just from the change of time, but from a culture of that particular space on the internet.
Maybe I am just lamenting an internet long past. I suppose I am just curious if the internet is largely homogenized now or if there do exist pocket cultures somewhere in the infinite hills and valleys of the net.
Where is the Homestuck community now? I guess they are hanging out on discord?
I imagine that there are some remnants of those older, smaller communities still out on the web somewhere, possibly in a Discord channel, as you mentioned, or maybe on some obscure forum on the edge of the internet. Either of which kinda furthers the ‘problem’ that you’re discussing here.
I’ve also noticed some of these communities become less defined. I used to spend a good amount of time on GBAtemp, which is/was a console hacking and modding forum. Nowadays there is a lot more just standard video game related news discussed there, which is fine, but I mostly stopped hanging out there around late 2018 when the Switch first got hacked and tons of people flooded the site with questions that have been answered time and time again. Or even better, the “My girlfriend’s daughter’s dog’s best-friend updated my Switch and now it won’t turn on” posts. This influx of new members, while a necessity for the community to survive into the future, really degraded the overall content of the forum. Now it is sadly to the point where I don’t really even visit anymore because all of the posts are either political bickering or questions where simple web search would give the answer, as opposed to the prior posts that were much more on topic and research-y.
I bring up this whole story because I feel that before one had to specifically go out and look for a community, whether that be Homestuck community or others, whereas nowadays these social media conglomerates kinda merge all of these communities into one large community with smaller offshoots, thus causing their unique styles to be somewhat lost.
Is there a way to stop this from happening? Prolly not. I remember reading last semester for a research paper that around 85% of Americans are on some form of text social media (i.e. FaceBook and Twitter), and every 1:1.8 Americans are on TikTok, so going back to the old way of individual forums is basically dead. Especially since having a group on some social media site is way easier and cheaper to maintain than a webhost running some forum software. Although it does suck that since it’s all on a handful of sites, the individuality that the design of each site/forum is lost.
This is quite a mess of a response, but tl;dr, I fully understand what you’re saying and I prefer the ‘old’ way myself.
Honestly, it was quite a mess of a post. In short, online spaces feel samey now. Compared to the past when stumbling upon a new web circle felt like walking into a secret clubhouse or joining a different lunch table clique.
Actually I have experienced this feeling with some Discord channels, where there is a distinct language and attitude in the clubhouse compared to other channels or with the general social media discourse language.
I do miss forums though, and I still don’t feel okay about Discord as a platform.
One thing that I think is interesting about the homogeneity of social media is that people actually fit themselves into more granular subcultures than ever, since they spend much more of their time online than they used to, and every individual person’s hyper-niche, individual interests are able to be catered to by the engineers of modern social media. If you’re the only guy who likes Homestuck in your village of 200 people, you will resonate the most with the diaspora of other Homestuck Joes, and find that all your friends that also like Homestuck are on a private Discord server spread out over thousands of miles. If you’re a fan of underwater basket weaving and Mario 64 hacks and lean politically left, modern social medias can tweak your perception of the masses to show you what you’re more likely to interact with, given your permutation of identified interests.
I think this hyper-individuality and the ability to create perfect feeds for every personality is what makes forums seem primitive in comparison. Why would I slog through a message board with maybe one or two unifying characteristics between users, if I can have TikTok serve me everything that I will ever want on a silver platter without any input besides my passive consumption? There’s also something to be said about the death of online creativity and having active stakes in internet culture as a result of this, too.
Your experience with GBAtemp reminds me of eternal September - when a community is so inundated with new people that the old guard is unable to impart their cultural norms onto them.
It is not always a good/bad thing, (Since entrenched pecking orders are often altered or broken), but most importantly the etiquette that allows for efficient use of a service is lost. Couple that with newcomers often caring less about their reputation, existing rules either being unwritten or so long that nobody reads them before posting, or people being so used to long TOS that they just skip it and miss out on actually useful information.