I like traditions. So I use the beginning of a new year to resolve to try out something for a year, to see if it improves my life. I’m pretty good at sticking to these resolutions.
Last year I decided to not consult any news sources. In the beginning that included Twitter but I slacked a bit. And I did read the occasional news article that was on a subject of particular interest. Still, not browsing newspapers or watching televised journals has greatly improved my life. It helps of course that corporate media these days are simply propaganda channels: I know what they are trying to do. That makes them easy to ignore. I will continue this habit in 2017.
A less ambitious resolution was to not favorite things online, in an attempt to not play along with the “neoliberalization” of every aspect of our lives. That also made me a lot happier. I found myself perfectly capable of liking what somebody said without having to express that to the world (or to the corporations that feed on the data that we produce for them). It made my experience of social media much more enjoyable. So I’ll keep that one too.
In 2017 I want to rediscover the internet that I got to know in the 1990s. An internet where every node in the network is equally important. An internet where we create our own identities, even just for fun. An internet that is not “Real Life” but a parallel sphere, one where we can experience other ways of living. An internet where creation is in fact more important than creator.
I want to explore the old network partially as an aesthetic exercise, a fantasy, a fiction, alongside my interest in Virtual Reality, that other revived 1990s relic. But also in earnest. Strictly speaking, all the elements that made up the internet before are still present today. We don’t need to go offline to escape the malaise caused by social media. We can just dive underneath.
This New Year’s resolution is simple: not to use search engines. I want to fight the reflex to type whatever I’m thinking of into Google and instead go directly to the websites that have the actual information. My browser remembers the names of these places automatically. Or I can bookmark them. I have set my standard search engine to Google Images, to catch any reflexive searching. I allow myself image search because it is vital to my work.
Searching actually remains quite efficient even if only images are returned. So there’s some room for cheating. But ultimately the point is to avoid searching as much as possible. And to replace it by good old surfing: exploring the world wide web by hopping from link to link. Discovering things that the efficiency of search engines hides from me.
Happy New Year!