Shot by Austin Chan
I'm sure you've heard the news of yet another media platform being sold to an obscenely rich person, continuing an ongoing trend of obscenely rich people owning news networks. It's just kind of what rich people do to maintain the idea we need them. In the case of Musk, whose unethical and largely bigoted behavior has been well documented, it's pretty clear that he's buying one of the world's most trafficked sites because, well, he doesn't like people talking about the obviousness of his behavior. Despite their outlandish behavior, bigots are pretty sensitive people.
But I'm not here to talk about that. I want to talk about the conversation around people feeling unease about remaining on yet another platform dictated by the sensibilities of a rich bigot and the hopelessness of being able to be in safe spaces online.
What strikes me the most as I observe exchanges is how people feel better just isn't possible. I see constant lamentations around having to choose the lesser of however many evils are out there and not wanting to leave a platform where they've spent so much time building their livelihoods and their audience. Admittedly, I can't say I'm unsympathetic. The rise of social media has introduced opportunities to people, especially people like me, that simply didn't exist before. And we cannot talk about social media and not talk about the cultural juggernaut that is Black Twitter. Ha, if you know, you know.
I want to talk about the future. I want to talk about how we deserve better than to have to navigate the social sensibilities of platforms that favor violent hate that pushes engagement and punishes people who speak out against it.
Sure, there was a time when all we had were these platforms to connect and engage. But now we're pretty deep into the 21st century, we don't need to rely on any of these spaces anymore. At all. Why do I say that? Well, dear reader, I'm glad you asked.
In terms of services, there have been the mainstays that have generally been available for a long time. Their lack of proliferation was largely due to the complexity of setup and the technical knowledge one had to have to use them. Let's take email for example. I'm sure many people would like to have their private email, but using Google's mail service is just easier even in light of their nefarious data practices.
But that has changed. With the advent of tools such as the gorgeous YunoHost, it is now possible to have your sexy email with a few clicks. And not just that. Walk with me.
Want a cloud-based solution that backups your computer that has calendaring AND audio/video conferencing (that's HIPPA approved!)? Look at NextCloud. How about collaborative document editing and sharing? Collabora and Only Office has you covered. Want you're own blog to share your lovely thoughts with the world? Ghost, Grav, and of course WordPress are ready and waiting. Analytics tracking? That's Matomo. Newsletters and marketing management?? Listmonk and Mautic. Social media?? Misskey which I currently use and Mastodon(but be careful with them, their community is kinda racist but the work of Darius Kazemi is BRILLIANT) can get you on to the fediverse. You get the idea. There are a lot of great projects out there that can conceivably minimize and even end reliance on profit-driven and corporate services. I've been using quite a few of them myself for years. Ha, and even building my own.
But beyond all of the available tools, I want people to want more from their online experiences. Being a person that has worked professionally on the web for more than 20 years, I understand the challenges of having to adapt to an increasingly digital landscape that seems to be getting more complex by the minute. However, at some point, we have to decide want kind of communities and platforms we want to commit to. Do want to use places that are built with our interests in mind or continue to use platforms that dictate how they want us to conform while becoming increasingly toxic and harmful.
There is an entirely different digital life that exists outside of what we have been forced to use for so many years. A digital experience that can be so much better with a little bit of effort and a lot of collaboration built with love and empathy for the human experience built into its bones.
And honestly, we deserve that shit.