Ever since I got on twitter, my brain tends to think of thoughts in short bursts, and in the static of my fleeting thoughts - an image came to mind: I am in a crowded room full of people in which everyone is on their phone.

Scrolling is everywhere - on the train, on the toilet, before I sleep, when I wake up, when my pomodoro timer runs out, when I'm hanging with a group of friends, when I'm alone. It's a meditative act, it's a dissociating act, you ride down the river guided by the algorithm.

Lately, I feel like I'm allergic to scrolling. I open Instagram for a minute. I close it. I open Twitter. I close it. Open TikTok. Close it. Opening and closing again and again and for some reason, I can only dissociate on Strava where there is nothing served to me besides my friends' idyllic diary-esque entries about their runs.

I hate scrolling because I don't like having my life determined by the algorithm, one that tries to guess who I am and who I could

become good related essay
. I see my recommendations as someone else's will - I don't actually want to know what trendy restaurant there is in the city, I don't want to want a thread on how to live my life, I want to have a choice.

There's an idea in these blackbox algorithms there is a natural divination, that this is the inevitability of things, a will of the Nature of the internet. But, the enshittification of the internet isn't a consequence of entropy, it's a choice. And it's blatantly clear that the choice of the builder of these systems aren't trying to help their users anymore. Anecdotally, the disregard is obvious. On my Instagram where I have never interacted with the FYP, I instantly get served reels about where to eat in New York at the end of my scroll. On my art account, even after a year of trying to

curatemaybe if I like this post or bookmark it more things will show up on my feed ?
, I'm shown the same aesthetic images posted months ago
again and againthis image always shows up, I like it but why is it always there
. A culture of consumption is the default serving of the algorithm. There's no distinction between ads and content anymore, the Truman Show reality is not only in influencer culture, but in culture itself. Recommendation systems not only shape viewers, they shape the makers too. Shorter songs with catchier hooks have a better chance of going viral. Burgeoning content creators have to constantly churn to not be forgotten. I make Singles Inferno fanart the day after the season ends because I know it's easy for me to draw a portrait in five minutes and I know it'll get likes because everyone will be doomscrolling on TikTok.

But even as I bash what scrolling has become, even though I don't want to be a part of it any more, I still love the Internet. The Internet is a place of freedom, of discovery, of creation of yourself and your world. It helped me fall in love with creative coding when I had previously thought, based on what people around me said in high school, that to code You Had to be Good at Math. It helped me meet friends and people that changed my perception of what the world could be. It's a place to find and to be found. An act of realization. To participate in the Internet is to scroll.

When I scroll into this rabbit-hole of pessimism about the Internet's future, I look back to the past for hope. For some reason, I followed the rules and did not make a Tumblr account until I was 13. Before I had an account, I used to keep a bookmark of the Tumblr blogs of my favorite anime artists and diligently check them every day. My version of the infinite scroll was to look through every page of one of the artist's reblog account that I thought was pretty funny.

Perhaps the answer is to center scrolling back onto a recommendation algorithm that is actually just People. People with ideas and dreams and hopes and pasts and futures. I hear alternative modes of scrolling from bits and pieces of conversations I have with others, to look through links not through a feed but through twitter likes and substack essays and personal websites and blogs and

are.na channelsAn essay for another time but I really like software like are.na and mmm.page that are not driven by profit but rather self sustenance of a community and values based culture. I would like to find more websites like that!
. Even beyond people, what if we centered the 'algorithm' on places, on things, on
chancerelated essay about early internet randomness
? I think there's something beautiful about manually checking a
websiteI posted my website on gossip’s web and found people liked my stuff and put it in their are.na collection and it meant a lot to me. also been hearing of people manually checking publication websites.
, going to a gathering that was a flyer on a
polethere was a flyer advertising an event where this guy would eat a whole bucket of cheeseballs in union square and many people went
, running into the same people again and again serendipitously at random events, eventually, with scrolling, without scrolling, in that crowded room, we will find each other. ty for reading, find this also on corny.substack.com