Maybe it's just me, but It feels like I'm constantly being gaslit on the Internet...

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Maybe it's just me, but It feels like I'm constantly being gaslit on the Internet...

Post by circuitbored » Thu Aug 04, 2022 3:20 pm

I can recall a time used to wake up early in the morning before I start work with a spring in my step to log on and see what my friends and family were up to and to post what was important to me... I used to enjoy getting messages from people and seeing real comments on things I post in real time from others who enjoyed doing the same, and feeling connected with people who I couldn't visit in person, while working to imagine a future where that improved over time... I enjoyed clicking on simple news and content links and reading concise and well written things without instantly being presented with a log in screen for yet another account that I'll totally forget the password to, especially if I change web browsers later on...

Ahh... Those were better times.

That was all long before the more recent pandemic began, back when the Internet was far less hostile towards us all as users.

By "us as users" I'm referring to the people who would purchase something if it meant enduring value, but users that don't want to be burdened by repetitive processes and repetitive content and online subversion... People that don't want to be stuck in a horrible process of paying for absolutely everything they do and don't want to waste our time on scams and fraud... People that don't want to be stuck staring at device screens all day and people that expect technology to make our lives less complex and more productive to save us time and money... You know... Normal people.

Most people don't like wasting time (unless it's leisure time) especially if they have bills to pay, many things to do, and other people to take care of. Most working people want to find meaningful opportunities for financial, emotional, and educational growth online in order to achieve a better sense of stability in their world... I think the prior statements are fair for normal people who aren't currently wealthy, considering we're at a point in history of recession, where consequences of financial manipulation, constant distractions, failed educational enlightenment, emotional manipulation, and volumes of wasted time can easily lead to a life time of suffering for them later on.

What bothers me most these days is how the Internet, and even desktop software, is so dedicated to the counter-productivity and to wasting people's time (as cited above) in the quest to make companies and investors profit, without account for the damage they do ultimately to everyone, including themselves, in the future.

I feel as if I'm constantly gaslit now on the Internet... But maybe it's just me?

From the moment I first log on (to anything but this site of course) I'm presented with paid ads for starters... Ads are everywhere now. Even Google search shows paid advertisements as the first click option, while the site tracks absolutely everything I do often connected to my personal email account, which contains records of communication with my family, with doctors, with lawyers, and many other very private aspects of life down to things I've bought and utility bills I've paid. It's also very dysfunctional to try to operate on the Internet without creating a google account (or similar anchor email account) due to how the company dominates mobile operating systems, search services, web browsers, online app and service authentication, and email services.

Increasingly there's a subtle correlation between the ads I see and the things I communicate about in email, but it's hard to prove the connections, so I frequently just give it a pass, because even if I complain about it on Twitter, or any other site/app, the hundreds of people that follow me rarely ever see my posts, and often don't see my posts after that for a period of time until the rant is no longer relevant... Mysteriously so. I am but a small fly on an orange in a fruit basket of the world, surely I would not need to normally be silenced then I have a complaint right? It's the entire chorus of complaints that would likely be deafening if they weren't subverted that keep company execs and developers up at night that get subverted constantly... Thats... Possibly why they lower exposure on my account visibility when I feel I have a valid issue that needs to be addressed... So I post those ideas and opinions here, and they actually get read.

My posts here get a pretty good level of visibility, and for that I'm surprised and thankful... The strange thing though is on social media sites, my visibility has never been good, and actually has been shrinking even more in the past few weeks. Fair disclosure, The Twitter account for this site has not grown past around 10 followers in multiple years of existence. I don't post frequently on it, but you'd think that if views for each post here average in the hundreds, there would likely be a bit more activity in social places related to the site... It's really frickin strange how Twitter works...

It is actually really strange to me even as a web developer how a lot of online sites/apps work when they literally say that they are "social" by nature. Twitter used to be like attending an "open mic" event, where everyone in the early days had equal ability to speak and potential to grow an audience of like minded people if your message was positive or engaging... Now the experience feels like attending an open mic event where there are too many people that talk way over their allotted time, and also where speaking time is frequently sold under the table, and where speakers who pay the most get a lot more microphone time than everyone else that doesn't pay.

As one person with multiple lines of business, I run many other social media accounts. I never intended to do that but it makes it easier for followers to not get unrelated posts from me all under one accounts. It's also frequently quite painful to do so. For starters, I'm frequently penalized within social platforms for posting on varied accounts from my home network or phone falsely for reasons unexplained. I get locked out of my accounts and need to re-verify myself often (just as an example). Even though my daily post volume is very low on each of my accounts, compared to that of a beginner level spammer, but oh yeah, I don't post spam.

It's bewildering to me that I've been banned for spamming by certain sites like Reddit (for spam) when I used to make only about 10 posts per month total there (on average) when I was most active... It's also strange that when I visit reddit and Twitter now, I mostly see spam and reposted content from other accounts regularly trending on leading pages as well, which I'm pretty sure you see to. If we were to (God forbid) post our frustrations about it on Reddit, it simply doesn't get seen by anyone, and it potentially can cause our account to be admonished or banned, although on my own personal web sites, my posts frequently get seen by people (without me needing to pay additional money to "boost" them)... This is why I post my my opinions and ideas here when I think they need to endure and be read. It works so so much better than posting them anywhere else on social media, now more than ever... Even if I get historically low views posting on this site, it has always beat anything I could manage on social media for years.

I also work as a content creator, because I make music and often need a creative outlet for sharing that with the world. I work hard to not create spam, often inserting humor and sarcasm into my work to express my frustration with the world and the Internet... for example:

There is not much more frustrating these days than spending hours creating music or other content and then wanting to share it with the world only for it to not be seen, so I spend even more hours creating and editing videos and uploading them to social profiles that I create across multiple platforms regularly. These social platforms (Like TikTok and Instagram) often stall out in letting people see my work and hear my music, now more than ever. I frequently am tasked with deleting videos that don't show any views, and the work I've done gets deleted due to low viewership more frequently than it gets left up because having zero views on something you made is often worse than being told your work is not worthy. This issue happens for many creators, and you can observe the grievances if you do a simple search for "TikTok showing zero views" on Google or Twitter (not on TikTok of course, complaints about a platform usually get suppressed/hidden on the very same platform, which can likely well be considered a form of gaslighting).

Many many others experience the same problems that I have across many social apps, and it requires them to work even harder (without any pay) in hopes of one day gaining solid visibility among others, in hopes of starting a business or establishing themselves as an artist. I've been making and publishing music for 20 years now... Why does starting each new social media profile work to make us feel like beginners every time? Needing to establish yourself from scratch on every new site kinda regularly feels like gaslighting to me.

I almost feel as if a lot of social app companies are constantly struggling to survive and grow undercover... While they could well be holding down our ability to survive and grow, because doing so makes them more money, and keeps us working hard within their apps, instead of helping us to succeed. It frequently feels as if social media platforms are keeping a tight grip on visibility for all accounts unless ad promotion is bought by us for each post we make, and they're carefully segmenting views and limiting them to ration account growth, because that allows them to make more money the more users are frustrated or embarrassed by low visibility.

The artificially induced "struggle for visibility" should not grant a platform license to gaslight people who make up their user base... Converting a free use platform into a monthly paid service would have still been deceptive practice, but less manipulative perhaps, but with the way advertising works on these platforms, the pricing ant the bar for solid visibility (within each social platform) can be raised or lowered (and the value of views can be easily manipulated) without anyone knowing, and that my friends, sounds very much like what gaslighting would be, to me at least.

I don't want to feel manipulated online, I want to trust in the ideal that people in leadership of vital and prevailing online services are doing their best, and mostly good natured, but in my time online since the pandemic, I've seen government totally lose it's grip on proper regulation, endless companies and individuals using bots to brigade in their favor online, many who have lost their savings to Crypto and NFT scams, friends who have dumped money into advertising their business with little to no sales returns, home values being controlled and inflated by large real estate companies, and even posts on Twitter from accounts with over a million followers that only get 10 likes... it frequently seems as if I'm being gaslit when I am online.

Leadership within many social media companies is often viewed by creators as either being strategically corrupt and manipulative or wildly incompetent on a regular basis. Their companies seem to always secretly be either running out of operational resources or wildly successful in each news report we read. Many social platforms and many desktop apps, since the pandemic seem to now lean towards reducing functionality and overall helpfulness while increasing capabilities for surveillance and in app purchases... This shocks most people when they find out too late that their child has unknowingly purchased things in even the most simple apps on and social media sites, often after it's too late to dispute charges made. Your children also are also working hard to gain social media visibility as well, if they engage in advertising on credit, it can very easily create a very unpleasant surprise that is guaranteed to be a bowl of non-refundable spaghetti for you to untangle for them later on.

At some points in history, major segments of the world's population were actively online and engaging each other frequently on a daily basis. They were doing things like buying plane tickets, checking the weather, watching funny videos of animals doing silly things, talking with family members, posting selfies, and posting their art and car parts on online forums for sale. It seems like since after Tom from Myspace checked out and then Facebook moved in, all that changed somehow... The sense of community and collaboration stopped growing, and everyone was foisted into a competition to be on the "front page" of a mega-social site. Suddenly the talented people you knew were replaced by seemingly rich people who you didn't know (influencers (most of which with questionable talent but backed by marketing teams). During that time, things began to get far worse for people who weren't already with cash and backed by marketing teams though, to where many people simply orphaned (or barely used) their user accounts due to the saturation of influencer culture and abandonment of organic growth culture. If that is really happening as much as I think it is, we're likely all being gaslit over the potential effectiveness of social media sites, and possibly the Internet overall.

I came across an interesting brief report written by Emily Yahr yesterday, which eased my mind about the very root of online "influencer" culture a bit that serves as solid (related) reading: ... r-AA10bckd

There are also tons of accounts on social sites (That tout their vast communities) that are simply inactive because the apps make people give up out of frustration and they simply stop logging in... That's pretty much just as bad as having fake followers to many people who do have vast amounts of followers on these sites. The use of bots is also a prevailing issue on social media, which was best highlighted when Elon Musk attempted to buy Twitter and apparently did not receive a firm or believable statistic based on the overall percentage of fake and inactive accounts Twitter currently accommodates. The court battle in 2024 (or whenever/if it actually happens) will likely be an interesting look into how Twitter operates, and whether or not they are as active and vibrant as the platform presents itself to be.

I'm lucky I've run this site, and others in support of my voice for many years now... I couldn't imagine an existence where social media is my only outlet due to the issues I've mentioned above and even many more I have cited in prior posts here. I guarantee that this post will not get zero views, and I hope it gets started as a public discussion to counter the rising tide of segmentation, manipulation, and frustration we're experiencing as Internet users. If not, we can luckily still build our own sites, without subversive algorithms, without needing to publish our phone number to the world, without needing to manage numerous user accounts, and without waiting in line to be heard and seen when we have something important, useful, or creative to share.

This post is not so much about that feeling when you visit a travel related web site and get a price quote that keeps changing (upwards usually) every time you go to a new page, also not as much about how annoying pop-up ads have become the least of our worries (ever since Java Script was invented), and not so much about how every site demands you phone number and promises to securely store it while you get mysterious scam phone calls from overseas every time you log on, as much as it's about THE ENTIRE INTERNET, now that major companies have it within a death spiral of monthly subscriptions and locked behind user accounts that closely but secretly track and judge your actions, dispositions, and choices online.

Maybe it's just me, but It feels like I'm constantly being gaslit on the Internet.

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