The above photo is of Erin looking over the South Dakota badlands, taken near I-90, on July 2, 2002, not too long after this blog started. Indeed, here's a blog post of the trip.

What a difference twenty-one years makes.

Hard as it is to conceive, the heyday of blogging, which was once seen as the great new driving force of the Internet, is closer in history to Netscape, Pine, and rec.arts newsgroups. In fact, I suspect the day I signed onto Blogger for the first time is closer in time to those dial-up online bulletin board systems that were before my day on the Internet.

But while the Internet has become almost a necessity in this day and age, to stay in touch, to project yourself, to sell yourself as an artist, or whatnot, the Internet is not as fun as it used to be. I spent far too much time doomscrolling on Facebook and Twitter before I walked away from the dumpster fire that Twitter has become. I sign onto these systems not because I particularly want to, but because it's a habit, and the corporate interests that control these social media networks have done their darndest to make it a habit.

It's not healthy. I can see that it's not healthy. But it doesn't have to be this way.

I think this is why, though I post here irregularly, these days, and don't get nearly the engagement I used to, I've still kept this blog going. Because here I can speak and not be drowned out by the chatter. Sure, fewer people may be around to hear me, but who out in social media is actually listening? Ironically, in the early days of Blogging, I likened personal blogs to writing in one's own diary, except that it now has an audience. With the audience diminished, what do I have? A diary.

So, I resolve to stick around here, to keep up this personal journal. Erin has her own writing journal that she writes in diligently to exercise her mind; this could be my equivalent, if I stick to my resolution. We'll see. I've made this resolution before, and been away for weeks. But I still come back.

I should note that one place, right now, where I do feel more of the fun of the old Internet is on Mastodon -- a decentralized social community that is very Twitter-like, and has almost choked on the incoming traffic of ex-Twitter users looking for an alternative to escape and raise the middle finger to Elon Musk. It doesn't have the algorithms that try to feed you the posts the computer thinks you'll get addicted to; instead, it has what Twitter had when it started: the people you follow, in the order that they post in. As a result, I've managed to toss my Twitter app off my phone. And when I scroll on Mastodon, I'm not doomscrolling. I'm connecting again to the people I wanted to follow in the first place.

It amazes me how much better that feels than Twitter. And it amazes me how much Twitter made me forget this was possible. That's by design, and that's evil, even before Musk turned the site into a dumpster fire. We need to do better and I think we can. I like to think that we did, twenty-one years ago.

If you are thinking of leaving Twitter, I say, please do. Consider joining Mastodon, instead and, if you come, please follow me here...

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