Since returning to Newgrounds I realized I actually enjoy going to the front page rather than avoiding it - I believe it's because the content on the front page is largely curated by hand. While you can argue the pros and cons of this until you're blue in the face, and I may just be a web 1.0 boomer with nostalgia goggles who fears change and the never-ending march of iteration, I think it brings to light the frightening amount of content shoved in our faces is served to us by a cold, unfeeling mass of machine code that we've colloquially coined as "the algorithm".
Youtube, Google and similar social media juggernauts have shaped how creators behave - they learn how the machine thinks, and allow that knowledge to shape their content, their creativity, and even their personal image. True, humans have largely sought attention long before the dawn this phenomenon and the internet itself, but we appealed to humans first and foremost. The algorithm is not human, it is merely instructed to behave in a certain way, and does that until told otherwise. It doesn't make mistakes, it doesn't consider outliers. It doesn't care who you are or what you make, it cannot speak to you or empathize with you. It cannot laugh, cry or smile. All it has encouraged is uniformity while stifling creativity - and this is by design.
I could ramble on about how trash Youtube has become for hours, but I don't think I need to do that here. And it's obviously just not Youtube. I just think about how more automated the internet has become as the more people use it and wonder if the lack of human interaction between creators and the platforms they post on has had an overall negative impact on not only the people who consume the content, but moreso the people who create it. Because not only has the automation made creators become more desperate, but it's made the platforms less sympathetic to the plights of creators. Just look at Tumblr, once the world's most popular microblogging platform, getting cold feet from being removed from the Apple store. Its kneejerk reaction to stepping outside of Apple's walled garden was at the expense of millions of its users who did nothing wrong, and suddenly one of the few platforms left for adult artists was vaporized.
Realistically, these places are probably just too big for them to be curated by human hands. There are an increasing number of creators competing for a smaller and more valuable space. Maybe if Newgrounds was as big as these places, it would end up the same way. Maybe things would be better if the average internet user was visiting more than 3 or 4 sites a day, or maybe i'm just pining for the days when it wasn't almost utterly pointless for smaller communities to exist for no reason other than nostalgia.
Who knows what the internet will look like in another 20 years, but I hope that there's still a place where it doesn't feel like you're screaming into the void.