Disclaimer: the thoughts presented in this post might be a little haphazard, I’m pretty much just writing this down as it comes to me.
I feel like we are currently living in a time where although the amount and variety of content online is at an all-time high, discoverability is at an all-time low. Social media is saturated, and most platforms offer up the same solution to help you “get started” with your browsing experience: they offer you the most popular content that they have on hand.
I suppose this inevitably drives a lot of content towards homogeneity as the popular creators get more popular, and smaller creators seek to emulate those patterns in hopes of seeing the same success. Each platform develops its own unique flavour: whatever your social media of choice is, be it YouTube/Twitter/Instagram/Reddit or what have you, I’m sure you can recognise some obvious trends that are prevalent among all the top content there which is reinforced through their respective recommendation engines.
Having those common trends isn’t a terrible thing in and of itself, I guess. People enjoy those things and that’s cool. But in recent years I feel like I’ve become increasingly disconnected from digital content that really resonates with me, and have been struggling to regain that.
(I touched on these themes a little bit in my post about rebuilding my website, too)
The hidden gems are out there: people creating or sharing things which, for whatever reason, we can connect with beyond some superficial level. This will be different for everyone, so how can we each possibly find it beneath all the standard stuff that rises to the top?
Even on platforms that strive on “personal” feeds - such as Twitter - I feel like it is easy to end up in a rut where it is hard to find new accounts to follow because the recommendation engine primarily shows you content similar to what you already see. Additionally, once your feed reaches a critical mass, following new accounts becomes disincentivised by the fact that your feed may become too hard to follow, so your feed can stagnate in a sense that you are always consuming the same type of content. It feels as if the only way to really fix that is to start a whole new account from scratch.
I don’t have any comprehensive answers to all this, if there are any at all. But for me, I think one thing that helps is to just make some effort to browse the internet with a little more curiosity. When I see a link that I don’t recognise, or a thumbnail that looks strange, even if it seems dumb - why not give it a click and check it out? Every once in a while, you’ll stumble across something really cool, and maybe you can in turn use that as a jumping off point to find more things that you can connect with personally.
In the interest of sharing, here’s some stuff I’ve recently stumbled upon that I really liked. They may not be your cup of tea, but if you’ve got some time to be curious, check them out:
- Joel Haver: what stands out most to be about his videos is how they feel really genuine. Whether it’s a serious feature-length film or a dumb skit about farts, you can tell he’s put a lot of love into it.
- Watch Out For Fireballs: I very rarely listen to podcasts, but I’ve enjoyed this game club podcast. They discuss each game at length with enough critique to be interesting but without sounding like armchair game designers.
- Sewerslvt: their music is like anxiety given form. But I find it really intriguing. Homegrown in Sydney, too, which is always cool.
I hope this post doesn’t come across too navel-gazey, but this has been playing on my mind quite a bit and I think it helps just to put pen to paper (so to speak), and maybe you can relate to it on some level.
Stay curious, folks.