The Internet Used to be Fun: 5 Ways to Make The Internet Fun Again and Control Your Algorithim

Photo by Ales Nesetril / Unsplash

Just finished reading the New Yorker's, Why the Internet Isn’t Fun Anymore. The future is wack, right?

"When did you first get on the internet? I was in 8th grade and had FOMO because all the kids were talking about America Online and AIM (America Online Instant Messenger). My crush, D***, was on AIM, and I was steadily hatin' every time one of the boys in class would laugh about a moment they shared with her."

"Whenever I wanted my mother to buy me something, I had to equate its value to education or shame. My sister and I used to wear 'rejects' from Payless. If it wasn't Nike, FILA, Reebok, or Adidas, it was considered a reject. Around the third grade, 'Johnny', a kid who lived in our building, made fun of my sneakers, and I came home crying."

Later that week. I got my first pair of Nikes. I was fresh.

Getting a computer seemed like it was out of the question. They were over $1,000 initially, but I needed to be part of the conversations. Maybe I'd even have some balls to talk to D*** from the behind the scenes courage the internet provided.

Get In Where You Fit In

We got WebTV instead. I remember looking at the American Online CD that came in the mail, looking at my WebTV box and wondering, "How do I get this in here?" I went into a WebTV forum and asked, "How do I get America Online on my WebTV?" Someone replied, "Ask a friend who has AOL to save their homepage to favorites, then send you the bookmark. Then you're all set!" I really believed them for an hour.

I didn't get access to AIM, but I had access to MSN Chats. MSN Chats was the place for the vagabonds, the outsiders who weren't AOL elitists with their rich fat-assed Dell computers.

On MSN Chats I found community. I joined an Anime Chat, which eventually led me to being part of an online chat RPG, Tyran's Cove. I joined internet gangs, where 20 of us would go into a chatroom and spam it until the mods kicked us out. I even found one of my lifelong friends on a random General Chat. The internet used to be fun.

Lookin, Lookin. Lookin

I was looking for something in the past.

  • Community.
  • An escape from Brooklyn.
  • A sense of belonging.

I've spent a lot of my life chasing identity. I've felt conflicted about where I belonged in this life experience. My persona felt too grand for the world I was born into, but once I peaked into the abyss, I didn't like what eyes saw or ears my heard.

I found a sense of belogning in High School. But as an adult, I look around and don't see those people in my life. Real life used to be more fun too.

Eventually, we grow up. We redefine fun. For some people it's teaching their daughter how to ride a bike. I don't have a kid yet, so I'm in a blur between what's fun and what's a responsibility. It's fun to exericse, rake leaves, work on my compost, upkeep the home, listen to podcasts, create podcasts, write music, and connect with people. Right?

Come and Get Your Love

Where so many people fell apart and became disconnected during the past 5 years, I found fun through working with people (friends?) on new projects. I found artistry through my camera lens and with the pen (again).

Then there are the moments where life doesn't feel fun. Where you show up as yourself, honor yourself, and are met with mediocrity and phoniness. Then you find yourself being faulted or dismissed. Where the funk settles in and and you question your time investment for a few hours or days.

These past few weeks, I've been leaning back into my identity and focusing on who I am. I'm a(n):

  • writer
  • artist
  • philosopher
  • culturally and racially proud Haitian and Black man
  • marketer
  • business owner

I have fun on the internet. It's not the same fun from the 2013-2016 Black Twitter era. It's not me having cyber sex with a mutual follower. But it's fun. I love trolling in comments, creating content, and finding those rare topics that bring joy to myself and people who are following me.

5 Ways to Make The Internet Fun Again and Control Your Algorithm

I'm working to consume less content these days and here are my 5 action items:

  1. Stop scrolling through "For You". It's not really for you. Focus on the "Following" tab.
  2. Fuck the alogrithm. It isn't your friend. Once the algorithm knows you, it controls your life, mood, and success. Every few weeks, I shift my content views and work on confusing the algorithm. We ain't cool like that.
  3. Go online with intention. There's too much to experience in life to be bored. Be aware and purposeful about why you're on an app.
  4. Follow your friends and family. But also make new friends and family by creating separate accounts with intention: business, trolling, and personal accounts.
  5. Get your parents and older family members invovled. I share cultural Haitian Tik Toks with my mother and sister. We can always laugh, but I also want to learn about their experiences and life philosophies, and the more I show interest in their lives, the easier we can connect.

Life is long for most of us. But while it feels short, have fun.


Clifford Genece

Clifford Genece