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What I want for Christmas: A Quiet Internet

What I want for Christmas: A Quiet Internet

Social media has never been more popular. The world has never been more noisy than it is now.

I think it’s about to tip.

As we wrap up 2018, one of the most challenging aspects of doing meaningful work—and leading a meaningful life, frankly—is being able to actually hear yourself think.

People are really over the noise and the comparison-based existence that has become the norm in the insta-everything world of Instagram. I’ve been feeling this reaction happening for awhile, in myself and a lot of people in my network.

I generally try to avoid writing about the “topic of the day,” but I think there is an underlying pattern worth being aware of here: I think the “quiet Internet” movement may have just crossed the chasm, or is about to.

So what’s really going on here? How should we think about this?

The surface-level shifts are big and obvious. A few leading indicators:

I’m just starting to think this through. Here’s where I’m starting from:

  1. Everything changes. All the time.
  2. When it comes to human affairs, those changes tend to play out as cycles between opposing poles.

So there’s a reaction happening against the noise on the Internet. As Cal Newport published today, the medium of exchange online has shifted from the link to the stream. The current stream-centric model won’t last forever. Because another underlying pattern online is the cycle between centralized and decentralized content.

I expect we’ll see new models go mainstream in the next few years that shift how attention moves online. Models that return control to the individual over how what they’re seeing got in front of them. Tools that respect individual attention instead of optimizing for the interests of social media companies.

What I want for Christmas is a quiet Internet. Not “quiet” as in nothing interesting going on. “Quiet” as in you can be connected and still hear yourself think.

Whether my prediction is right or wrong, may we all create some time and space to reconnect with ourselves as we approach the new year.

Happy holidays, everyone.

(For those interested in technology and business cycles, one of the best explanations I’ve seen of how these cycles work are this and this from six years ago. Worth a read…remember tumblr?)