It’s been a while since I started this website in 2018, using a very simple setup with Jekyll on GitHub Pages. I haven’t used it very much, namely I’ve written 4 posts in these, almost, 2 years. Indeed, the previous post is exactly one year old today! I’m back to it because I miss a space in where I can share my thoughts on a subject, my conclusions after some specific chain of events, studies, experiments or personal projects (if they don’t die after a few weeks, which is often the case). Or if I have a position on something on the news, or if I just want to share content.
I don’t promise that I will post more often, what I’m saying is that this will be the place for them. Also this is not a new year’s resolution, it’s just the conclusion of a series of events that made me turn back to personal websites instead of just having social media profiles.
This post is about some thoughts about websites, Facebook and Twitter.
The Value of Personal Websites That Do Not Track You
A personal website is a place controlled only by you and your agreement with the hosting service. In that sense, you are free to post anything that doesn’t break such agreement without any other consideration, and without any side effects that may be harmful to you, your friends, or your social media acquaintances. You can post news, links, photos, videos, thougts, code, manifestos,… without only having to respond to you. And, apart from the wayback machine which I appreciate enourmously, you control the lifecycle of your site and you completely own your content.
Also you can control how much you, or anyone else, track your readers. Personally, I just want no tracking on you, neither from me nor from anyone else; indeed, the absolute only cookie this domain sets is a cookie from CloudFlare, my domain registrar, in order to perform its security functions at a domain level. See
_cfduid in this article for more information.
To remain pure in that sense, I even removed my previous comment system, Disqus, because it was setting too many cookies from known tracking entities like Google and Facebook. How can you comment? I’m working on that, but, for now, just send me an email to comments~at~gvisoc~dot~com, or mention me in Twitter, linking to this site if you want to be part of a community with my other readers. If I have to do some tracking, I prefer the personal tracking that involes writing an email to say hi, to comment on something or to (politely) tell me that I’m wrong.
Why not Anything Facebook: Its Political Turn
I have to admit that the first time I signed up to Facebook it seemd a good idea and, although I didn’t close my blog immediately, it seemed possible to leave blogs behind, as it could host any kind of content including notes. I had been using it for a few years but the content I was receiving through it was quite disappointing, to tell the truth. It was hard to build a social network of people my same interests and the term “friend” had a too personal implication. Later on you could just follow people without “befriending” them, but it was more the lack of content and a poor way rather than the lack of people what was dragging me away from it.
But then, the political agenda Facebook came out in the news, so I began closing my accounts on their networks. Because of the company’s inclination to destroy democracy and devaluate the public discourse I closed Facebook and, a year or so later, Instagram followed. My final post, a telegra.ph note that I lost, stated that I didn’t want to be part of a machine of such kind, because it was harmful.
If you are new to this, or if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I recommend you to read on Cambridge Analytica issue and the Facebook beneplacit for the operations of CA in this directory of The Guardian, in Christopher Wylie’s book “Mindf*ck”, or in the company’s Wikipedia Page.
As I said, I closed Facebook and Instagram and I’ll never come back. So, if I want to share some content, nothing better than my own website.
What About Twitter, Ephemeral Thoughts and Attention Thirst
I’m still on Twitter, and I still find it very useful for the conversation of the moment and to get in touch with activists, news, social movements and trends quicker than in any other news media of any sort. Nonetheless, my usage of Twitter has changed a bit in the last couple of years: I made it more ephemeral and I reduced my use of it, and I want to reduce it even more.
I’m limiting the life of my tweets for a year thanks to tweetdelete.net. By paying a few dollars in a one-off fashion, you can upload the archive of your tweets and program a task to periodically delete tweets older than X units of time, from the very beginning of your activity on it. Limiting the tweets for one year gets Twitter back to its original meaning, at least for me, what was no other than join the conversation. Conversations are transient, often take place within a limited context of time, and lose their value over time. Twitter is not an archive of my thoughts, it’s just a conversation log, or if I post tweets unrelated to anyone else, a status log.
Some time ago, also, I was leaving Twitter for a whole month in order to take back the control of my attention and stop browsing my timeline mindlessly and automatically. Social media are often designed around the basic goal of getting as much screentime as possible, so that the user is exposed to advertisement and promoted content that get the social network income from it, either a few income just by the impression of the tweets in this case, or a more substantial share if the user interacts with the tweet. This is a fair business model, as it is what you accept with the T&C of the social network, but it can crawl to the top of the list of your sofa activities, or distract you while you should be more present in a social gathering.
That was the concern I was having at that time and, I have to say, leaving Twitter for a month returned my relationship with it to a much more healthier level.
Using a personal website will help me to reduce my usage of it even more.