The Internet is Boring Now

Zeitgsty
5 min readSep 7, 2023

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Image made using Dall-E

Where’s all the novelty gone? Because, personally, I can’t find it.

As the modern day proverb goes, the internet was once a wild frontier where entertainment and knowledge blossomed together, uniting the world in awe. However, lately, as I meander through TikTok from my “office” (AKA couch, bed, or occasionally an actual desk), I can’t avoid feeling like we’re overloading ourselves with so much content that we’re making the internet… boring?

Remember when Instagram gave us that same twinge of fatigue? I’d pinpoint it around 2019. We collectively grew tired of the same over polished, FaceTuned-to-death images. The silver lining though? A wave of escapees rushed to TikTok’s “For You” page. Here, we could indulge in content out of our circle–and mostly created to exist as such. As much as it pains me to say it–things haven’t been terribly thrilling there lately. 🙄

Walter Cronkite once mused, “Journalism is what we need to make democracy work.” But are we letting the modern realms of content drown out quality in pursuit of quantity? I fear yes.

Trendjacking and Algorithm Hacking: Chasing the viral dream

Ah, the great quest for online omnipresence, where the jingles and memes are recurrent and eerily familiar. The rhythm of TikTok’s trends becomes monotonous as creators pursue that elusive viral hit. Alas, it’s all about trendjacking and algorithm hacking these days. Let’s be honest though, who wants to live in “200 view jail” forever? Certainly not me. But this predictability drains the platform’s vitality. And left unchecked too long, there’s a high likelihood that this platform will meet the same fate of social media channels before it.

R.I.P. MySpace. 🕊

Losing our religion…to Google

Desperate to find a blog post that isn’t catered to a robotic overlord who goes by “Search”? With SEO-primed content boasting a staggering 1,000% increase in traffic, it’s no wonder every content marketer worships at the SEO altar.

Data from Treendly confirms our obsession, highlighting a “sustained growth” in SEO searches over the past 5 years. And to add salt to the wound, nearly 10% of pages get zero organic search love from Google.

So why are we strangling creativity with keywords? Money, honey.

Money over meaning–the tsunami of ads

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Succumbing to the siren song of monetization, our online spaces are brimming with ads. With advertising spend projected to rise by 5% this year, even against our turbulent economic backdrop. How does the content landscape look? More commercialized than ever.

The most successful bloggers wear multiple hats. These range from the advertiser, affiliate marketer, product reviewer, and more. Understandably, this is how most profitable blogs make their income. I just wish that originality wasn’t the price of profitability. Here, and everywhere for that matter. What I’m seeing with even the most innovative bloggers is a pattern of rinse-and-repeat. As a reader, that feels more like yawn-and-sleep.

So perhaps it’s time advertisers looked beyond sheer numbers, embracing the nuances of niche marketing. In truth, it offers its own plethora of benefits.

ChatGPT — or as I call it, The Echo Chamber

Now, here’s the twist: I respect ChatGPT. Hell, I highly admire ChatGPT. OK…let’s be honest here…I depend on ChatGPT. But as it approaches its 1st anniversary, can we agree it’s becoming a bit, umm, formulaic? The crafty analogies that once awed and delighted are now, well, everywhere.

More often than not, these AI-driven tools produce clichéd content. It’s in their nature. And that makes plenty of sense considering most of these AI writing programs are white glove GPT4 service. Similarly, there’s the often erroneous tidbits, termed “hallucinations”, too. While preventable, these emerge without vigilant human intervention.

While ChatGPT offers a repository of potential, its misuse is leading to a dilution of content diversity. Furthermore, with over 600 million blogs in a vast sea of 1.9 billion websites, one has to wonder: Are we drowning in our own words?

Now fellow writers and lovers of prose, here’s the hard part. It turns out that on average 73% skim through posts and a mere 27% engage deeply. Perhaps it’s time to shift gears then? Maybe, just maybe, it’s about leaving an indelible mark on a few rather than fleeting impressions on many. Of course, this all depends on your objectives as a writer. And I’ll be the first to admit there’s about a million different ways to “be a real writer” — -all without one being superior to another.

A call for digital content renaissance

Image made using Dall-E

Thinking back to the early days of the internet, pioneers like Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Ada Lovelace, and Vint Cerf surely didn’t envision a digital realm stifled by its own excess. Even later internet icons, who’s fame bred from vastly different reasons, like Liam Kyle Sullivan, Nigahiga ,and, a bit more recently, Mr. Beast were doing something true, expressive, and special. Their vision was one of unbounded, unbridled creativity. Amidst the modern cacophony, the essence of content creation must shine through. Or at the very least, poke through.

Remember Cronkite’s iconic sign-off, “And that’s the way it is”? Perhaps it’s time we dared to challenge this resignation. What if we reclaimed the vast expanses of the digital realm? What if we changed tracks from a predictable echo chamber to a vibrant canvas of creativity? In this internet age, isn’t it our duty to ensure the story never gets old?

For now, I’m still holding out hope for digital journalism’s comeback. Are you?

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Zeitgsty

Zeitgeisty = your compass to the culture cosmos. 🔭 Ideal for the marketer's muse, the journalist’s journal, or if you just love being culturally in the know.