Jiwon's Alcove

A Minimal Online Presence

Oct 20, 2019
Hand holding up a phone with Instagram on it.

I feel like there is an instinctual and incessant urge to publicize everything on the internet ingrained onto us. Personally, simply reading an opinionated post online can trigger a desire to make an account to deliver a clever rebuttal.

Perhaps as social animals, we are compelled to digest opinions and have our opinions heard. There are more productive methods, however. For instance, I could read well-researched books and articles, and participate in mutually respectful real-world conversations. Waging a poorly organized, scantly fact-checked culture war on the internet is a waste of time.

It is not just social media. Why did I find it satisfying to curate my public Goodreads profile? I'm no book reviewer, so I don't need to publicize it. I don't need an over-engineered remote database to keep track of books. I can simply create a list myself. (Note from future self: I did create a simple JSON-based list.)

I've come to question this urge for publicity and to minimize my online presence as much as possible. Currently, only this blog remains. It's minimal - no ads, no follow buttons, no comment boxes. It's also rarely visited, partly as a direct consequence of my non-existent social media promotion. I'm okay with that. I love this kind of a quiet internet.

Note that I am not opposed to all online forums and profile curation services. Some can be useful for specific purposes. For instance, an amateur birdwatcher may make great use out of eBird, an artist may want to have an ArtStation profile, or a developer may use GitHub for collaborative projects.

My question is, why do we default to these online services that are often over-engineered for most use cases? Do we ever sit down to question whether these tools are the best way to support our crafts and hobbies? Or simply the convenient default? I suspect that often it is the latter.