Going offline.

May 3rd 2022

With things like the 'indie web' making a return with users online creating their own little web spaces and re-exploring nostalgia for the old days of technology, I have seen more people in general disconnecting from the big circles of corporate subscriptions and media, or in general going offline more even when using technology. I have spent much time finding ways to leave behind social media, a website like this being one, as I think its important to recognize when something like twitter or instagram become more a hindrance than anything. Realistically, we can't disconnect from *everything* but in my head the goal is to do what I can to take control. Like, instead of thinking “I am going to subscribe to Spotify, seems like everyone uses it and its convenient” now want to think “i dont want to pay for this service just because, mostly when it isn't any more convenient than what I was doing before. Why am I paying for this when I still go and buy albums directly on bandcamp anyways and those files are just on my PC?” There is actual convenience in current day tech and then there's I guess... just following in line because its becoming the assumed norm. I won't deny the real convenience in say... web hosts like neocities, video hosting sites like youtube, and file hosts like dropbox/google drive/etc. There is a world where I could go to the extreme and learn to host all of that myself. And I may do one of those things (web hosting), and maybe maybe I'll do more. But it's not about shaking my fist at every modern day development to say “but I want to do things the HARD way again!”

So like... that's obviously not the point- when I look at Spotify as an example I think of all the years and shifts something like music has had digitally. I went fromripping CDs to my pc, to downloading mp3s for my ipod shuffle, to buying songs on bandcamp, downloading them from youtube, etc – I was vehemently against things like Pandora and eventually Spotify because “I already have my music [this way, offline] why should I convert to Spotify?” and yet.... I got Spotify. It was bundled with some college thing and was cheaper. I begrudgingly started using it until eventually my whole library was converted over slowly (the first year I hardly used Spotify still)... Sorry, I don't intend to make this a Spotify rant blog, I could easily apply this to the 5 streaming services (my dad) is subscribed to, with how little I touch those and how much I still seek out physical media when I want something that won't vanish because ownership changed. There are just many things I come to realize “why am I paying for this???” The only answer for most of it is that my dad is the one paying for it, because he uses streaming, Adobe, etc. But its one of those things I think back on that often has me realizing that yeah- I wouldn't want to pay for all that. Whether I pirate or seek out secondhand used copies of media I like, I've decided theres just certain things I can control and don't need to fall in line with- like paying a subscription service for music that also doesn't give the musicians much of anything anyways... I don't want to subscribe to Spotify and make streaming, non-permanent music, the thing I just Deal With because everyone acts like its normal now. The general shift towards all this streaming media is kind of weird, and its not good either. I already have faced issues with things being taken down or moved to other services and it sucks- why deal with that? Let me move on- because really this isn't just about streaming...

Circling back- there's something to be said about going “offline” not just in a literal sense of going outside and turning off your phone. I mean with the technology we have- downloading music to my PC and putting it on a mp3 player that I can take out is something I want to do. Taking a laptop to the park with my documents on it so I can write outside to my lonesome sounds nice. Taking that away from a device like my phone that is terminally online is something I think we should encourage just a little more. Perhaps this is also from my current perspective of being unable to drive and living alone, because oh boy oh boy, the internet REALLY starts to get to your when you do that. I am trying to ease myself into non-internet related things for the sake of my sanity. Walking my dog is an expected task, so seeing what else I can do to get off the web has been a slow process. But those two goals- laptop for writing outside and mp3 player not on my phone- are two little points. Its not to say I won't have my phone on me, as its become quite needed in daily life- but the fact is is that when its the one tool in my hands, and it opens me up to social media apps and nonsense at the blink of an eye, it become addicting and hard to pull away from. Giving myself “extra steps” to reach the unhealthy thing is what stops me more often than not. Putting my music on a different device will keep my eyes off my phone. Choosing to write on a laptop in a different setting will not only be refreshing but again, another extra step I must make if I do want to do online on my phone, since the laptop won't be online.

A little look into what I am doing regarding this- I want to make the laptop journey more fun and physical as a hobby (if it becomes impractical... I will figure out something different lol). I have been working on fixing up this old Toshiba Portege t3400ct, which has windows 3.1 one it. Yes, this is actually what I would love to use as old as it is. But I think that is the plus side to older tech- there's huge limits on doing anything but the bare minimum, and that is exactly what I want right now. No temptations. Plus, I do love retro computers! And It has been a joy to bring this thing back to life. Below, an image:

Additionally in the spirit of all the “disconnecting” I had also done so by taking everything off my google drive. I did say file hosting sites are handy- they are, if you need people to download stuff. But for some reason google drive had become like a folder for everything I was writing, possibly because I was often sharing it to friends with links. I basically never touched a word program on my PC... Not sure why I got into that habit, but recently after dropping a project that had involved other people and made use of the link sharing, I said fuck it. I need to put this on my PC. None of it was, and thats the one conflict with stuff like this, relying on google. If it goes down, it goes down. I am lucky to have a fuck ton of PC space, I have multiple 4TB drives and have now stored all my written docs on its own HDD that is 4TB. I downloaded Open Office and now its all on my PC. Because why not? Why did I not just keep this to myself, on my own damn computer? I don't know! But I have done it now.

Anyways. I have no concise ending to this blog, I just felt the need to ramble. Perhaps it is worth thinking about too- consider what you have on your PC and what you don't. I know many of the indie web movement understand preservation of content- its important. And this kind of falls in line with that- streaming is not permanent. Your online profiles aren't either... Don't let things exist in a place where they may not be permanent! You can change that for yourself by downloading things. And taking things away from the reliance of the internet as a service is a good idea too.