Have you ever had the feeling that you’re looking at the same content no matter where you turn on the web? Do you find yourself going to the same blogs or websites over and over? Is your Twitter account stagnant or maybe even non-existent? Are the rhetorical questions driving you nuts by now?
One of my favorite things about the internet is how easy it is to find amazing content and information no matter what you’re seeking. It’s surprising then, that so many of us gravitate and then return to the same destinations to get new content and information. We’ve been hearing over and over that more data is being created now then ever before, so why are we constantly going to the same places in hopes of discovering new stuff? There’s a new paradigm in effect that I like to refer to as The Internet Box.
Relax, The Internet Box isn’t a real thing and therefore it’s incapable of hatred. However, The Internet Box is borne out of several factors. Let’s go over what those factors are because if we didn’t, that wouldn’t be all that useful would it?
As great as search engines are they also take liberties that can box us in. For instance, if you’re searching for “Dolphins” and you’re a huge fan of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins how does Google, or any other search engine, know what to show you at the top of the page? The answer is, search engines learn about your behavior in order to better serve content that you care about. However, this feature can also impose invisible limitations as to what content is shown to us. While this probably isn’t the main reason you’re stuck in the Internet Box, it certainly can hinder your ability to browse freely.
With the rise in popularity of social networks, more and more people are getting information from links and media posted by their digital friends. While content shared via social networks can be relevant, a lot of the time we get the same old stuff. Sometimes (a lot of the time) we get served content we don’t want to see. Who doesn’t have the Facebook friend who is constantly posing “funny” videos or links to music that they’re loving at the moment? Social networks have the potential to break us out of our internet box but far too often they don’t give us the push we need to use the web intuitively and constructively.
Just kidding…kinda. The truth is, it’s partly your fault that you look at the same stuff over and over. It’s not hard to fall into routines especially when all you’re doing is pointing and clicking or swiping and touching. No one is asking you to be an internet wizard (unless someone is asking you to do that) but it doesn’t hurt to try new things from time to time. The internet is an amazing place where you can get information on almost anything you can dream up, use it wisely.
Since it would be incredibly mean to just tell you that you’re stuck in a box and then not offer any suggestions as to how to go about getting out of said box, here are some things that can help you change it up.
I like to call platforms where seemingly magical synchronicity can occur “serendipity channels.” Twitter is a prime example of a serendipitous channel. If you’ve ever sent a tweet out and had a barrage of total strangers reply to you, you’ve brushed up against the power of the platform. Besides, where else can you have a reasonable chance of interacting with your favorite entertainers, athletes or fictional characters?
Examples: Twitter, Google+
Cool people who know things often want to share the wealth. With the ever increasing number of platforms that are available to publish self-generated content, it’s now possible to find the sources that resonate most with you. Find your favorite bloggers, websites and people and share in the internet riches. While you’re at it, take a look at your favorite curators’ networks. Curators are typically happy to divulge where they get their content, so check out blog rolls and who they’re following.
Examples: Tumblr, Blogs, Pinterest
Go on Wikipedia expeditions. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of getting lost in a Wikipedia rabbit hole then you’re in for quite a treat. Wiki something you’d like to know more about then start mercilessly clicking on links. It’s incredibly easy to get lost for a long time. The good news is while you’re getting lost you’re also learning.
Remember your friends and family? No, not your Facebook friends but the people you choose to interact with offline as well as online. Ask those people about how they use the web. One of the great things about people is they all have different interests and skills that make them unique. It follows then, that people don’t all use the internet the same way. You might be surprised how awesome some of the people you know are at the internet.
And there you go. Now that you’re aware of The Internet Box and some ways to get out of it, put your knowledge to good use. Start using the web to enhance both your online and offline life. As always, you can check out the Resources page on this here site for some other awesome tools.