I am sitting at the Airport. Reflecting some incredible days at the Beyond Tellerrand Conference in Düsseldorf. The sleep deprivation kicks in and my mind starts to wander. The mood is dominated by excitement, happiness and something that feels misplaced: disappointment.
Most of the people I just met, the ones that made this few days very special to me, will be out of my live for about 360 days. We all live scattered around the world and the moments to meet them in person are rare. It is ironic that I initially got to know most of them through Twitter. We used to master a digital product to stay close to each other. No matter where we where.
Fast forward to today: people are disappearing from the Internet. I myself do not want to participate in Twitter anymore. While there might be more reasons, the most important on for me is that people, I like to see statuses from, disappeared. Some moved to Instagram, some moved to semi private Slack channels, some moved back to IRC and some… I honestly don't know.
There are to many words written that we should save the Internet. Our internet. In moments like this one I am not sure what there is to save. The playful, connecting and inspiring web we had moved into an commercial nightmare. It's about promoted content, loud headlines and in the end about commerce. Companies use the internet to promote their content. The noise they provide cover most of the nice parts we still have. “Our” Internet has been taken over by agencies to promote whatever content customers will pay for.
For me the past felt like people defined the Internet. Today brands define the same thing I used to like.
That said, I do not think hope is lost. I honestly believe that the times could not be better. The technology we have at our hands is incredible and we should not put our head into the sand. We might not save the whole Internet, but honestly: who cares. If we compare the Internet with a city: almost every larger city has areas that you like, ones you don't like and some might even be dangerous. While the end goal should always be to make the whole city a worthwhile place. One should start to make the neighborhood they live in a worthwhile one first.
I would like to invite anyone who wants to save the Internet to participate in it. Participate in the communication with people, not with brands. Share your live. Not for likes, but for keeping honest connections alive. No matter where you are. No matter where the people that care about you are. If you think the Internet should be saved: empower the part you want to save. If you shut up, there is nothing left to save.
As I said before: I miss my friends that live a happy life somewhere else. This thing called Internet can bring us closer together – again.