Recently, I have been approaching internet contact with a different idea. I have been completely old school. Gone are the days of years gone by where all my time was spent on old.reddit.com or discordapp.com, as I have been meeting new people on forums and joining IRC chatrooms once more. It all started when I was looking for a place to talk about a certain taboo topic, because it was banned from Reddit. (And no, it is not something illegal). My search lead me to find that there were some active forums being served through TOR, so I took a looksee for myself. To my surprise, I stumbled upon a fully active forum full of welcoming people. Instantly, that wild west feeling from all those years ago started coming back. I witnessed my fair share of jokes, arguments, rude people, and had some pretty cool conversations over there. I even found someone who watches me on YouTube - though of course I do not ever plan on disclosing my identity on there at all. But what truly surprised me was the internet relay chat that this forum had set up, it was like a completely different world.
Instantly it felt different than the many discord servers I had joined in the past. Everyone was welcoming, there was no role drama, (because... well, there are no roles on IRC) and discussion was raw and unfiltered. Everyone could say whatever they wanted. That's not to say anyone could just go in there being an asshole though, as people with differing morals simply ignore them until they fuck off, rather than somewhere like Discord servers where an emotionally affected staff member can just ban without warning. Indeed, using IRC and forums has helped me grow my spine a little bit, so-to-speak.
It was in the middle of talking on these forums that it hit me why social media started fizzling these online communities out. Even when there is hundreds of members online on the forum at one time, sometimes it can be a little bit before a thread speeds up. The chat is almost always active however. This is compared to social media such as Instagram and Twitter, where refreshing after scrolling the feed for a few minutes will already have new content to present, and Discord, where servers can lay inactive almost all day sometimes. Forums and chatrooms are almost backwards in comparison to the modern standard of social media and Discord, where you patiently wait for new topics or replies as you spend time chatting with people over IRC in the meantime. As a direct result, I have found that my breaks at work are usually spent taking 15-30 minutes to see what's new on the forums, vs something like my high school self refreshing to see new posts on Twitter or Instagram in the middle of class due to impatience all those years ago.
So, am I saying that social media should die? That netizens of days gone should unite to force everyone to only access the web from a PC, and stomp the boot on social media and Discord? Not necessarily. I feel like the two can coexist once more, as they did from about 2010-2013. During this time, a lot of now dead forums were still just as active as sites like Reddit (at the time), while Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter still had millions of active users as well. We should be convincing more people to use forums at least, as IRC is probably never making a big spectacular comeback. I feel as if it would bring a much needed return of soulfulness back to the modern web. Maybe after this we can try to bring back web design that isn't shit as well.