So, why does The Squirbo Hole exist? Why did the great and mighty Squirbo choose to make his mark on a podunk, hand-coded website instead of an already-existing platform like YouTube or Twitter? And why does it look terrible? Well… it’s complicated.
TL;DR: I want a place of my own that all the nasty wasty meanies and corporations can’t touch.
The first reason I would cite would have to be the problems I find with the major platforms today. I feel that YouTube, for starters, has essentially become a playground for massive media conglomerates instead of the platform for the average person that it began as. Popular channels, especially channels owned by celebrities or media groups, don’t seem to play by the same rules as everyone else. A prime example of this would be the treatment of Logan Paul in 2018. Paul uploaded two videos that flagrantly violated YouTube’s terms of service, those, of course, being his trip to the Aokigahara Forest in which he filmed a hanging body and another in which he tased a dead rat. After the uploading of Paul’s Aokigahara Forest video, YouTube did not respond in any authoritative capacity for nine days, and actually took down reuploads of the same video. While YouTube was quicker to deal with the rat situation, it is still disheartening to know that having enough clout and being profitable enough can place you above the law. Another lesser situation I take issue with is the issue of monetization of tragedies. While other channels are demonetized for speaking in even the loosest terms about a recent tragedy, I forget which it was at the time (most egregiously Casey Neistat, who vowed to donate the revenue of the video to charity), Jimmy Kimmel’s official channel was allowed to retain monetization on a video exclusively concerning the tragedy and keep all the revenue for themselves.
Speaking of revenue, the other major issue I have with YouTube is that media groups can claim an unlimited amount of videos with no repercussions if the claims just so happen to be false. While this is a major improvement from the early days of Content ID, where using copyrighted material ran you the risk of a channel deletion, the system is still horribly flawed and easily abusable. Companies will sometimes claim for as little as four seconds of copyrighted material which even falls under Fair Use, as was the case of Mumbo Jumbo, who had over 800 videos claimed for his intro music, which was four seconds of a remix featuring a sample that the company owned. Even if you attempt to appeal a false claim, the company will still act as judge, jury, and executioner and will usually reject without a second thought, often stalling the full allotted period for each appeal stage to respond so they can scrounge those few extra pennies a video makes. I could go on and on about monetization and other Google tomfoolery, but I’d rather move on.
Moving on with a flawless segue, why don’t I use a microblogging platform like Twitter or Tumblr? Simply put, I’m not a user because of the users. Twitter and Tumblr are infamous for having incredibly toxic userbases (not all of them, don’t get your britches in a twist), where discussion is led by a hyper-left vocal minority. Modern Twitter is perhaps most reviled, however, for cancel culture. If you don’t know what cancel culture is,
where have you been? cancel culture is the practice of “canceling” users that the vocal minority deems possess the wrong opinion on a certain subject. Such canceling usually involves notification of employers, spreading blatant lies on the platform, the occasional doxx, and just generally making a big stink about things. Do some people deserve to be canceled? Yes, but not in this way and not for the petty reasons they usually are. On this front, Tumblr is no better. You may have heard the story of the artist who drew a Steven Universe character either too thin or too light-skinned (the true crime eludes me, I think both were done at some point) and was goaded into suicide by Tumblr. Yeah, that’s a no from me, chief.
I can hear you now. “Well, Squirbo, quit complaining and just use alternate social media!” Well, I would, but the issue with that is either a lack of users or a lack of technical knowledge. For a site like Diaspora (think decentralized Facebook but not completely evil) or Mastodon (decentralized Twitter yada yada yada), it’s both! Both sites have limited userbases and a technical barrier I would have to overcome. Worse yet, Mastodon is domineered by the same groups I take issue with on Twitter and Tumblr.
So, what’s a man to do? Why, create his own platform, of course! I’ve always been rather enamored with the “wild west” feeling of the early Internet, including the aesthetic. As such, this love, combined with rather limited knowledge of HTML, culminated in the rather rudimentary appearance of my website. (Hey, at least it looks better than most other websites of the time.) My other primary influence for the creation of this site was the idea of anti-corporatism and the libre software movement. Above all, my primary issue with the main social media suite is the fact that every platform is owned by a member of Big Tech. With my own platform, I return the power to the hands of… well… me. I know that I’m making absolutely no impact on the current environment by acting all self-righteous, but it’s the thought that counts.
As some sort of incoherent closing thought, I recommend you check out privacytools.io to really get serious about protecting yourself from the eyes of trackers. I also plan on putting some sort of anti-copyright notice on the site for some or all of the content, at least the code. I kind of like what I’ve done under the hood, even if I’m not great at it. I also plan to implement some sort of comment system via Disqus in the future.
Praise Neocities, long may they reign.