Oy? a sculpture I saw from a bus outside Mexico City

Where are the off-ramps?

The internet experience as many of us know it has become insufferable. Could there possibly be any alternative? If you could offer your friends and fans a better way to experience your work, why wouldn’t you?

On the ‘Book and ‘Gram, there are ads and recommended posts between every two to four posts from people you follow; on the ‘Tube, there are one or two ads before a video — sometimes as long as fifteen seconds that can’t be skipped — and more frustratingly, ads in the middle of a video, sometimes every six minutes. (You’re already experiencing this – I’m spelling out the situation for someone reading this in the future.) These sites are rapidly becoming dysfunctional and impractical, yet we cling to them for all of the years that they had offered us free hosting for pictures and videos and thoughts, for all of the times when, through the din, we’ve found something that touches us, when we made a connection. Those moments are worth the sacrifice — were worth it, at the time. We are familiar with these interfaces, and generations of us are weary of trying anything new. If we already see an ad before nearly every post, what is the next step? This article paints an a picture.

I’ve been trying alternatives — Vimeo for video and Mastodon for socials — and returning to publishing on my own website, then sharing links on various platforms.

When the ‘Tube began to show ads on all of the videos it hosted overnight, in November 2020, I re-uploaded most of my videos to Vimeo. It feels utterly unprofessional to send a ‘Tube link to anyone any longer — why should they endure watching ads before getting to the video I shared, or have it interrupted mid-way for more ads? Would you do this to your prospective client – what about your prospective fan? If I could pre-pay an ad-free experience for my channel, I would — on Vimeo there are no ads, and many more options, including the ability to re-upload revised videos to the same link.

(If this post was a video on the ‘Tube, you’d be seeing an ad right now — check out my Vimeo page!)

On the social media front of things, I’m increasingly optimistic about Mastodon, a decentralized social media platform where I’m enjoying an ad-free experience of following several friends and news sources. Thanks to an eXodus from Twitter, its user base is growing — you can follow me here. The community on Mastodon is much smaller — and when your feed isn’t filled with ads, it’s much easier to navigate.

It’s also a good time to ask — why am I here, what am I looking for? When I joined the ‘Book, around 2007, did I have a five year — or a twenty year — plan of what I wanted to accomplish? Over these years, we’ve been conditioned to write posts in a way that they are better seen — but are they the posts we wanted to write?

I’ve stopped posting on Twitter last year; I had already quit The ‘Book once before, in 2013, and was thinking of doing it again (even wrote a cello concerto inspired by social media use in 2019), before the pandemic rendered the socials as our only virtual stage for a couple of years. I still post things on FB + IG, but almost exclusively about upcoming live in-person performances; I enjoy catching up with friends when I see them in person but seldom scroll through my feed — I feel that my view is heavily curated, and, worse — blinded.

Quitting the socials is a choice that only a privileged person –– and hardly any artist –– can makе, a person who doesn’t need to scroll through their feed to keep in touch with their far-flung friends, who has alternative methods of sharing photos and videos with friends and family, who doesn’t depend on being seen in the feed as a way of promoting their business or art. For many artists and writers, social media channels have become their primary way of interacting and sharing; by contrast, maintaining a personal website, a mailing list, and external photo / video hosting, have become avenues that many would rather not invest in.

The way forward largely depends on what you hope to find. If you enjoy an algorithmically manicured feed of content you are bound to like, amid a sea of ads, then nothing needs to change.

As for me, I was never in it for a machine-guided tour of my friends.

I’m not quitting again — but for as much as I can hold myself to it, I would like to return to posting on my website and “syndicating” elsewhere — a practice known as POSSE that I wrote about in 2020. Syndication is easy — if you have your own site, you should try it. (With one click, I’m about to share this post to FB/IG/Mastodon and Tumblr.) I realize that sharing links to my site will get me less clicks than posting embedded content — but if life were about maximizing views, we’d all be posting cat pictures.

Thank everyone for following me here and there, and checking out the work when the algorithm shows it to you, and sometimes when it doesn’t. I’m always grateful to hear from you.

See you out there!


P.S. OK, now you’re primed for another ad. 🙂

Site: https://Ljova.com
upcoming shows: https://Ljova.com/schedule
Listen: https://Ljova.com/listen
Watch: https://Ljova.com/watch
Patreon: https://patreon.com/ljova
Mastodon: https://zirk.us/@ljovadotcom

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