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Anything for a Weird Life

Social Media and Its Discontents

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Recent work on an archival project has meant extended time dwelling in the past. Specifically, I have been kicking around in the year 1996. To go back to the day-to-day of a year that is the same spacing” on the calendar as 2024 can get you mired in nostalgia. To avoid this, I think about the future and envision a time when I never use the Internet again.

Let’s assume that the Internet as we now know it will end. Sure, this is like going back to 1987, when daily paid US newspaper circulation was at a peak (62.82 million) and telling folks that this empire will crumble. It would have seemed unlikely, even impossible.

But all stories and eras end.

How will this one, and how will it effect day-to-day life in the underground?

Here are some scenarios.

Artificial Intelligence will End the Internet

No, not like Skynet. At present, this here column is written with Internet research like what I have linked to above. As I do this work, more and more, I get garbage returns from AI as a pushed top result” that are inaccurate and strange. There is a constant and confounding trend to this online, misdirection and distortion being a continual hurdle to accurate information. AI grows each day and passing moment, filling up more and more of the Internet with this new form of useless garbage.

At what point will your search for a band’s new album lead to a soundalike stream of an AI version of the band’s songs at a cheaper price point? At what point will your search for concert tickets (already a colossal mess) be so bad as to be unusable?

Our Awakening to Our Right to Privacy will End the Internet

Social media isn’t free” in that you are clicking and agreeing to things you aren’t reading. You have sold you data to a company that then allows you to make content for it. More and more, folks are finding ways to circumvent this system while still being online.

Discord, started as an app for gamers, allows folks to build turbo-charged chatrooms that they control (the group chat” being another powerful and more private move folks make). I hope that someone sets up one for the Baltimore underground. They may have already done so, and I am not aware as I can’t search for it, find it, or join it without an invitation. This is fine and not a problem, but a problem for the Internet as a version of the public square.

Will being on one of these private unsearchable sites be the key difference between making to the basement show or not? Will this circling of the wagons limit the spread of a band’s name and recognition as a trade-off for a more neatly controlled and private Internet experience? What happens when you can’t DM for show address?

Money will End the Internet

Simply, no one has found a way to make money on the Internet with what they call content” and what I call the Humanities.” Spotify is thinking about becoming YouTube. YouTube only works out at present for me as a place that is a great source of Nirvana bootlegs. Tik Tok is being cracked-down-upon for sped up and slowed down versions of songs amidst its ongoing battles over music licenses which they view as a cost to cut as opposed to an asset to growth (not to mention a possible USA ban). Ask any artist currently putting out records and going on tour to promote those records. The math has changed, and fast, tours being cancelled because of that math.

So if the Internet can’t help artists and musicians make a living, they will find another way. I am guilty of forest for the trees” here, as I can’t see what way forward that will be, a return to old models or some new way on the horizon, just more questions I am grasping to formulate.

But I do take comfort in a few things. The future is unwritten. The Internet will end. And someone is getting ready to play a new song, hang some new art, premiere their new film… as content” or not, the Humanities will endure even after we get off the Internet.

Tim Kabara

IG: @kim_tabara

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