We live in a world covered in screens, where we can feel the internet and its algorithms influencing us without our consent. And yet, much of our online life feels frighteningly inconsequential. Posting status updates feels like shouting in the void. gigantic cultural moments seem to rise up suddenly then disappear, overtaken by the next round of horrific news; the online culture feels depressed and restless with a seething temper. You want to continually produce content to slow the sensation that you're disappearing, but are afraid of the reaction to anything you share. To make it worse, these sites are used by enough of your friends, who share enough of your feelings, that the sites themselves feel massive and immovable, like your entire life is just a village built at the base of their mountain.
When you feel profoundly influenced by the internet, yet unable to make any meaningful influence within it, an eerie feeling rises in you. It is as if there are invisible agents surrounding you, engaged in politics and power struggles far deeper than anything you can comprehend. Your world is guided by an algorithmic tangle that you know is there, but you don't know what exactly it _is_. Being online today begins to feel like you're a mouse in lab test, unable to know your experimenters, and the only act of rebellion you have is to knowingly grab the wrong cheese with both hands, to voluntarily receive its electric shock, and as the currents run through you, to shout up “YOU ARE WRONG. THIS IS GOOD. I LIKE THIS.”, until your body gives out.
And so, we understandably treat new technology with suspicion. We assume any group offering some new social network are creeps trying to find a novel way to manipulate us. We may feel like mice in an experiment, but at least it's an experiment we understand.
If we want more people to join Scuttlebutt, we must understand the world they're coming from. If we offer them a new home full of promise, but without explanation, that we say is radically new and yet designed to feel exactly the same, then we will only be fostering their paranoia-- inviting their phantoms into our new world.