A teenager in Indonesia may not see the same images on Instagram that I do, but the experience is roughly the same: we scroll through some photos from friends or family, maybe see some memes or celebrity posts; the feed turns into Reels; we watch a few videos, maybe reply to a friend’s Story or send some messages. Even though the actual content may be very different, we probably react to it in much the same way, and that’s by design.
The internet also exists outside these big platforms; it’s blogs, message boards, newsletters and other media sites. It’s podcasts and Discord chatrooms and iMessage groups. These will offer more individualized experiences that may be wildly different from person to person. They often exist in a sort of parasitic symbiosis with the big, dominant players, feeding off each other’s content, algorithms, and audience.
The internet is good things. For me, it’s things I love, like Keyboard Cat and Double Rainbow. It’s personal blogs and LiveJournals; it’s AIM away messages and MySpace top 8s. It’s the distracted-girlfriend meme and a subreddit for “What is this bug?” — Kate Notopoulus, Technology Review