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Curiosity, Exploration, Mental Health and the Tiny Web

It does not feel like a month since I started this blog. And yet, my first post happened a month ago, yesterday. Time flies.

I think something I've learned over the past month of making this site and trying to prioritize the tiny web is that I am enjoying the journey a lot more. I used to spend hours on the internet, just exploring -- going from tiny site to tiny site, finding new places to play. Slowly that got engulfed by major sites, and soon I was rarely going anywhere but a few sites in particular, or to find an answer on Google.

Now that I'm trying to prioritize the tiny web, I'm finding that I'm playing more -- not playing games, but playing on the internet. It's become a playground again. I'm finding so many weird little spaces, and my bookmarks have tripled (in a good way). It's a great experience. I'm genuinely enjoying it.

Which got me thinking about our algorithm-fueled systems, now, where everything is hand-fed to you and there's no search for what you want.

My cat has anxiety (this ties in, I promise). I brought her to the vet for another reason, but we mentioned the anxiety, and the first thing they recommended was a puzzle food bowl. It's inherent for cats to want the hunt, and if they don't get one, that can lead to anxiety.

I'm wondering if one of the reasons we're so anxious is because we're so used to being hand-fed our interests that we're terrified of stepping out of our comfort zone. Fearing the unknown is human, but so is curiosity, and we've been given very little outlet for our curiosity to bloom. We've suppressed any chance at the hunt.

No wonder kids are afraid to try anything without guidance; they're literally guided in everything, right down to their music tastes and clothing choices. No wonder they don't understand the idea of curating their own online experience: they've never had to, TikTok does it for them.

There's a reason punk got replaced with capitalist punk, and that's because Target started selling it. Gone are the days of ripping your own jeans and decorating with safety pins. Instead we're fed fashion, fed interests, fed pre-defined art within the pre-defined metrics that make the advertisers happy.

I think it's killing our mental health.

I genuinely am a lot more centered these days, and part of that is that I'm making my own choices about what I look at and where and when. Things are more long-form as well; less quippy videos, more long-text and stream of consciousness blogs, more in-depth guides to niche subjects.

It's good, is what I'm saying.

However, it's definitely not convenient. It's hard to access large portions of the tiny web by phone, and it's certainly so vast that without any sort of hub, it can be extremely overwhelming. I'm not at all shocked that people default to being hand-fed. It's much easier to eat from a bowl than to catch a mouse, if you get me. And convenience rules all for most people these days.

Have I stumbled on some awkward and bad places? Sure. Have I found some true gems? Yes. Exploring means you find the flowers and the bears. It happens. But I don't think it's good to shy from risk because it's, well, risky. I think that's actually part of the game, the hunt, and it's good to engage my brain that way.

I'm very proud to be part of the tiny web, and I hope it continues to grow in its tiny glory, and as I watch Twitter's slow descent into madness, I can only hope that we see more creativity and curiosity on the internet. I'd love to have more people playing here with me.