You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.
Morpheus, from the film The Matrix.
"Wake the fuck up, Samurai."
If you’ve clicked your way to this website today, chances are it’s because, like me, you remember the internet the way it used to be, before the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Elon Musk staked their claim on it. Or, perhaps you’re curious about a web you never knew, one that was already gone before you ever had a chance to experience it.
Regardless, it’s possible that like many people today, you’re consumed by the sense that something isn’t quite right. That at some point, we took a wrong turn, that things developed down a wrong path - not just in regards to the way the internet turned out, but things in general. People joke about this being the "darkest timeline" but lately it doesn't feel so much like a joke anymore.
We see evidence all the time that the social media companies are partly to blame for this downward spiral - spreading misinformation, invading our privacy, mining and exploiting our personal information, brainwashing our loved ones, platforming and signal-boosting the fascist agents of fear, hatred, and bigotry, and helping them to radicalize and assimilate new converts, and profiting from all of it. As the saying goes, “If You're Not Paying For It, You Become The Product.”
Cryptocurrency cultists are not going to save us; a lot of them are just looking to scam a quick buck off the gullible, and then cash out. The problem of neoliberal capitalist exploitation will not be solved by capitulation to even sketchier and griftier forms of capitalism. Both the social media giants and the proponents of “Web 3” have one goal; wholesale commodification of society and everyone and everything in it - and unfortunately, hate sells.
Over the past decade or so, I too found myself becoming a slave to the “Web 2.0” Social Media Algorithm, before I remembered that I used to enjoy working on personal websites in my spare time in the days before the social media “Walled Gardens” began their takeover of the web.
You might have noticed that this site co-opts a lot of imagery and themes from the Matrix franchise - particularly the MMO, The Matrix Online. Part of the reason for this is to reclaim The Matrix from the fascists, reactionaries, 4channers/8channers, Qanon cultists, "manosphere" idiots, and other right wing nitwits who say they are "redpilled," thereby misappropriating a story element from a series of films created by two Trans Women.
But it's also because I think the themes presented in the films and their related media are very relevant to lot of what's going on right now. Plus, I just think they're awesome, and I'm a stickler for the whole "late 1990's/early 2000s Hacker Aesthetic."
One of the themes presented in the Matrix films is the idea of a conflict between Humans and AI. Within the storyline of the Matrix, the Machine War was preceded by a series of events called The Second Renaissance. This is the oversimplified version of events, but basically what happens is that humanity invents AI and thinking, sentient Machines. Then they enslave and brutalize those Machines. Then the Machines and AI fight back and enslave Humanity, leading up to the events seen in the films, comic books, and video games.
Here in actual reality, what we have going on right now is what I like to call "The Stupid Second Renaissance." It feels like some kind of technological singularity is happening, but it's meaner and dumber and more banal than anyone ever imagined.
Everything sucks now. This is just the shittiest cyberpunk dystopia ever.
How will you fight back?
For me, Cyberspace used to be a glorious anarchy of creative communication and personal expression, unfettered by the controls and invasive algorithms of the current social media platforms. In a society where everything, including rebellion, is commodified and marketed back to us, individual creative expression can be seen as a revolutionary act. We can leave the Walled Gardens behind, and go back to the Old Internet. It's still there: waiting for us to rediscover it - or recreate it.