Why Neocities?

Like a lot of people, I find a lot of aspects about the internet as it currently exists exhausting, to put it bluntly. Endless algorithmically curated content built for the purpose of keeping users hooked as long as possible to keep generating data and keep looking at ads, sponsored content disguising ads as user content, and a soulless, streamlined style that has nearly every website looking virtually identical in what I've seen eloquently called "the gentrification of the internet." And that's just the user's side of the coin; as a developer, the eternally-growing set of front-end frameworks and paradigms has grown to the point of being legitimately suffocating unless you have a development team. Self-expression drowns between mirror-sheen polished websites, and the massive barrier-to-entry the amount of labor required for modern websites often requires.

As much as I loathe the fact I'm writing as much of a cliche old-man sentence as this, it wasn't always like this. When I was younger, the internet was filled with quirky unique personal websites, small communities that had their own distinct vibe and identity, and all of it as easy to develop as learning some HTML and Javascript, maybe a little SQL if you're managing a community. It was an internet that might have been smaller, but felt so much bigger than today's internet, where it feels like a wasteland beyond about a half-dozen websites, almost all of which are multi-billion dollar megacorporations. You either migrate to the monolithic megacities of Facebook and Twitter, where all submit to The Mighty Algorithm, all under an opaque regime whose decisions about what violates their policies seems randomly decided if not maliciously decided, or you starve in isolation, doomed to a solitary existence without any interaction with the "outside world."

In this digital wasteland, Neocities is a breath of fresh air. An island refuge from the soulless wasteland that so much of the internet has devolved into. A place for content unapologetically unique and earnest, not beholden to the algorithms and aesthetics of major social media platforms. That is something I desperately want to see once again.