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It's interesting, I've noticed something about myself in the short time I've been managing my site;

writing in an html editor, explicitly planning and framing my paragraphs with html tags and css styling is just

So very fun!

It feels almost perversely natural, considering it's an exclusively digital method of communication. I've always been a fan of typing as its own self contained activity, to the point my browsers homepage includes a hotlink to a site where you can retype novels; one of my favorite things to do with my alone time, until my keyboard begins to squeak. The mechanical switches need oiled.

Considering I was born in the tail end of the 90s (and honestly don't have any memories of a home without an internet connected computer) I'm one of those internet natives we were so transfixed with as the web began to become a staple in homes.

Frankly, until very recently I've barely considered that a trait.

And now that I've begun considering it one, well... Do you know the idea that the languages we know create the way we think?

Webpages are a language

Okay, yeah thats kind of an obvious point to make, isn't it. I just really enjoy using css text shadows. But it's clear, the languages webpages are written in, are literally called languages, I just called them languages! Has the word languages lost meaning yet!

I have been writing in HyperText Markup Language (HTML) basically as long as I have been writing in english. Thanks to Neopets actually! I was playing neopets with my mom's assistance before I was reading; once I was my fixation just deepened for several years. I didn't do much of my own from scratch writing html until recently, but its been something I've been constantly tinkering with in the form of various profile layouts, pages and blogs for my entire life.

And now that I've started writing in HTML as a hobby, frequently idling Visual Studio Code in the background for days at a time, I've realized that it is how my thoughts are built.

That probably sounds kind of crazy if you haven't had this exact same realization. But I have never written more comfortably then I am now, in a code editor. My thoughts flow easily, they seem to actually be sensicle for once, and I'm able to maintain some sort of topic in my head for hours at a time! I feel comfortable, like my writing is for me; it is authentically my voice, for once.

I'm a little bit in love with it.

I feel like I can represent my thoughts in a way that is really acurate to how they seem to collect in my head. That's why this page is a mess! This design is intentionally disjointed and hard to focus on; the boxes are too connected to stand on their own but I've intentionally colored them in a kind of annoying and distracting manner. Because this is how they present themselves to me.

It's jumpy and odd; every new thought is Bright and Distracting from the last, even if the last isn't fully fleshed.


Since I'm actively collecting them into a document that I find highly engaging (I get to do so much styling and movement and coloring! Those are my favorite!) I can get them out in their intial form, take a break to style and format them to their appearance in my head, and then edit them to flesh them out after I've had some time to ruminate. It's absolutely beautiful to me, this one highly specific form of communication. The freedom one can find in writing their own webpages is practically unrivaled in other forms of interpersonal expression!

No other publically visible aspect of the self is so curatable and editible, while also allowing for so much freedom of style and expression. The online self, in my humble opinion, has always been a clear reflection of the authentic self in some way. The personas that we put ourselves into on social media display traits we aspire to, traits we want strangers in public to associate us with. The same can be said for any "self" that you are tempted to label as "false", if I am to be believed. The authentic self is not a hidden construct that we must discover, rather the authentic self is too big, too much, too many traits, opinions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, to fit entirely into any situation. This necessitates the use of personas, masks and preformances, parts of the authentic self must be curated in a myriad of ways to fit into the situations we find ourselves in as complex social animals.

I do believe the situations in which we find ourselves able to comfortably breathe as our full, authentic selves vary between us; anything really could be the thing that makes you feel wholly 'yourself', like it is an authentic expression of you. But, I am also coming to believe that a personal website is an instrumental faucet of comfortably realizing the authentic self in a digital space.

On social media, your self expression is relgated exclusively to the ways you engage with others, and the thoughts that you can form into a post that finds "engagement". Which isn't terrible, I suppose, if you don't consider the fact these social media sites are owned and operated by corporations. Engagement is not a metric of your peers engaging with you, you are incidental to engagement; engagement as a metric that those companies care about is getting you and your peers to engage with advertizers. Yes, there are still social consequences for the things you say and engage with in these environments, but that is purely incidental. The social part of social media is incidental. It is a means to an end, that end being profit.

Of course I'm going to start talking about Capitalism after talking about the authentic self, silly thing!

The large social media sites, are owned by companies. Companies with employees and investors and boards. These sites are free to the user, because the user's time, attention, and data are being sold to create a profit for those investors. The social and expressive aspects of the site are just the shell for delivering advertisments, collecting data, and driving attention to their partners. You are 'renting' a digital space for yourself at the cost of your privacy, time, and emotional capacity.

How long can you really go and scroll on your Big Social Media of choice before you are enraged?
Before you have seen such an egregiously horrific take that you are mad, anger in your chest and rising blood pressure infuriated.
If you use that social media to keep up with the outside world, you can probably barely last minutes. As soon as you find a comment section or replies or retweets, it's over. Someones in those comments being a Nazi and promoting eugenics. Or, you know, whatever really gets your goat. Maybe you're really mad about us commie types in the replies always yelling about capital. If you are, like, leave. Now.

Social media wants you to use it to keep up with politics; everyone has an opinion, almost everyone has a very strongly held opinion. If you get a bunch of users all incentivized to reply with their strongly held opinions, well, you've created an inescapable fight-pit. How are you supposed to escape that jackass on twitter who's telling you to take ivermectin when he's in the replies of every politician, when he's in your phone's push notifications because you engaged with him, when you are infuriated at how loudly this idiot is shouting his wrong beliefs?

You aren't.

How are you supposed to express yourself when you are encouraged to fight, debate, and argue?

You. Aren't.

Even the fighting itself is incidental, it's just a very easy way to get you emotionally invested in the website. If you are actually angry, you are emotionally invested. Now, this investment is also sought through other emotions (confusion, curiosity, even love) in various ways across the internet and in these sites own ecosystems. It is not about the emotions in particular, it is not about how the effect you, your expression, or your relationships. It is about using your emotions to generate value from you, via engagement. Instagram's model uses less comment based infighting and more envy and fear of missing out to generate value from its users, but it is still the same exploitative model.

Yeah. I said it. Social media is exploiting you.

These companies are generating value off of you and your attention without compensation and with no reguard for your health or how this revenue generation is impacting people. That is exploitation. These sites are not healthy or even neutral public spaces, they are private platforms that exist for the purpose of generating money. And they want us to believe they are nuetral forums, just places for us to gather for our convienience. They are not. Most charitably, they are just billboards with comment sections. In my expierence, they are not at all conducive to the expression of the authentic self, because how are you supposed to sell something to someone who feels comfortable? Who isn't left wanting with some aspect of themselves, their lives, their friends?

You are not supposed to express yourself. You are supposed to be expressing an aspirational and unachievable persona that you will always struggle to meet, preferrably through purchases. This aspirational persona serves not just to leave you wanting with yourself, but to leave your friends and followers wanting with themselves as well. And again, I do think this aspirational self is a reflection of the true self, the things we hold dear, and our most important opinions and beliefs. You can still get to know someone over these networks, you can still make friends and reach out and actually have real interpersonal engagement with no reguard to the ads around you.

That does not mean these networks are conducive to it, good for it, or a good way to socialize.

Honestly, I think that corporate social media is just the digital esscense of alienation under capitalism. You're being exploited to generate revenue and you're miserable about it but, what are the options really?

If you're here, then I'm sure you know the alternatives to social media and digital alienation; personal sites. Stop renting a profile at the cost of yourself and instead use your online time to construct a digital home for yourself. Write a website to the best of your abilities and allow it to be the space where you allow your authentic self to breathe and exist fully. Welcome others into that space warmly, but never under the illusion that it is for them or their consumption or engagement. Guestbook comments are a plesant surprise, not a goal. Personal sites and other digital spaces are key to expressing ourselves in the digital space, the languages the web is built of are robust and diverse, there's so much to do with html and css alone!

The languages the web is built with are the languages we should be using to express ourselves within it, direct interaction with and control of those languages is key to feeling like the digital space is one that we really inhabit. When we relegate ourselves to the convienience and faux neutrality of corporate web spaces exclusively, we are allowing them to become the sole arbiters of these languages. HTML and CSS are simple and accessible to most people with the literacy required for using the internet, they are languages made for us to use to build spaces where we share information and ourselves with one another. We should be using them to do that.

The authentic self may be just too many things to fit into most situations, yet the internet is vast, space aplenty, we should be using that space on people not ads.

Okay now, if you aren't a communist but agree with me, apply everything I've said to an analogous real space. You are now fucker.

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