In 6 days G-d made the earth. G-d separated night from day and land animals from the sea. On the seventh, G-d rested.
In the great chain of being that is platform capitalism, the people got their networks. The elusive Silicon demons rejoiced.
For some people, in some parts, it was good. These were the ones who chose the path of least resistance. They sold off their data sovereignty and enjoyed the fruits of their net-banking and listicles.
This was a new material digital reality, technofeudalism built on equal parts freedom and control.
Resistance from the nay-sayers came in various forms.
There were those who felt there was no choice in the matter. Their answer was contra-internet. Hacking domains and building new realms of code untouched by the shadowy grip of the technocrats, this was their rebellion.
After that, neither here nor there, were communities of post-internet agnostics who needed the effects of mystery more than the riches of divestment.
And they were rewarded.
Of course, they ticked all of the ‘good politics’ boxes - Big Tech: bad, English language hegemony: Complicated, power-attentive intersectional coding: Good. They loathed to leave the net for the sake of any purist binary which would make them choose between honour and joy.
Collectively, they opened themselves up to the default spaces of Instagram. They saw a folk logic in its terrain and they used it: for community, for growth, and for spiritual regeneration.
They collaborated on work. Re-appropriated images. Created shared traditions of artmaking and sharing.
Freedom manifested in alliances between vaguely connected artists which in time became communities.
Towards the end I found myself entangled more and more with one community.
I knew them as I surfed. We were connected at points but from different paths. The way we met and diverged across our networks was important; the boundaries between us were layered.
From each of our vantage points, we saw that the internet was not the universal realm many claimed it to be.
Ours was a constant battle with the knowledge we were housed on platforms owned by overlords of powerful surveillance, extensions of the very systems of control which united us to begin with. Mysteries undone and then revived on a loop.
And still, communities carved out their rituals in space: re-sharing image, text and sound as met the material needs of their own people.
Traditions emerged in the overlaps between the escape and expression that reflected the material conditions of each community. In groups we created and shared the things rejected in places with power.
Our difference did not mean opposition.
In strength, we shared a common enemy as our Other.
It was on Instagram where we and they met.
The value of work exceeded the market or legacies of formal training.
They built value around connectivity, responsibility and creative generosity. They communicated a sanctity around the experiences of everyday life.
Traditions were made around ‘ugly’. They were for ‘too much’, and ‘not enough’, and ‘just a little’ and ‘a lot.’ They were for what it feels like to be in a body in the present.
They were excessive, abject, defiantly hand-made.
Their borders were flagged by the glaring flash of their cameraphones, and there they were able to see each other and grow.