Lately, I have a growing obsession with a simpler, quieter digital life. I'm not sure if this is a natural progression from getting off social media or a sort of nervous tick in response to Putin's invasion of Ukraine, but suspect it could be a bit of both.
Since reading in Johann Hari's Stolen Focus how the Facebook effect impacted Brazil in an alarmingly spectacular way, I can't help but look at everything happening and feel trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of digital noise and deeply upsetting real-world outcomes. It's like we're under some bizarrely symmetrical spell of chaos in, chaos out.
Anyway, it's been therapeutic to spend time tinkering away with what amounts to tiny webdev logic puzzles. I'm currently enamoured with stuff like personal websites that aren't just blogs, plain text note-taking and emails, indieweb principles, and stuff that breaks free (or at least slightly free-er) from corporate-owned content platforms.
I mean, how nice does this sound? From IndieWeb.org:
The IndieWeb is a community of individual personal websites, connected by simple standards, based on the principles of owning your domain, using it as your primary identity, to publish on your own site (optionally syndicate elsewhere), and own your data.
There are many reasons why you should use the IndieWeb, from controlling your experience on the web (instead of corporate algorithms), to deciding where and when to post your content and where it goes. Perhaps you're done with others owning your content, your identity, and your self.
It's maybe not too different to how we were doing things back in the "old days", but certainly a big departure from how I've been spending my time and attention in recent years. This revisited hobby feels like a homecoming of sorts — after being chewed up and spat out by the frantic digital megalopolis, you suddenly inherit grandma's weather-beaten farm and move out to milk cows and grow turnips.
Or have I been playing too much Stardew Valley?
No, I haven't. This actually does feel that way.
This week I set a bit of time aside to learn about microformats, something I vagely remember being curious about once upon a long time ago. With the mental bandwidth, emotional stability and micro-minutes saved from not endlessly scrolling social feeds, this felt like something I could just do.
My focus seems to be returning and I find myself accidentally falling into healthy flow. It happened this afternoon, in fact. I popped my head up after what felt like an hour of deep-focus coding, realised I had no idea what had been going on around me and scurried about the house wondering where the boy was. He was taking out some rubbish — this whole shebang must have been about 15 minutes lol.
Now I'm going try syndicating this post to Indieweb.xyz. If you see it listed in the /en/indieweb sub, it means I've been successful in reclaiming one of the many fragments of my brain previously lost to distraction.
Man, I hope it works.