Initially, I had planned to just edit and repost the post I made on the Yesterweb forums about my time as a moderator on the Discord. However, I think I have more feelings that I want to express, especially in the wake of posting my previous thoughts on the forums.
Here is the link to read my post on the forums. I don’t plan on really going against anything I said there, but rather just adding on to what I wrote. I do recommend reading the comments though, I do find some of them very insightful.
First, let me get into some backstory:
So, I moderate the Yesterweb. Specifically, I moderate the Discord (which is going to be gone soon), and I currently moderate the forums where most of my time is spent now. I’ve been a mod for a very short amount of time, only since October of 2022.
This is not my first time moderating a community space. I’ve moderated a few times before, however in a much smaller scale than the Yesterweb.
I knew that online moderation was a thankless job 99% of the time. There are a litany of memes (though in the new definition of meme, which has turned into ‘here’s a thing I wholeheartedly think but there’s a funny image with it’) about how moderators – particularly Discord moderators – are a bunch of fat (they’re always fat, because of course you must add some fatphobia into the equation) neckbearded no-lifers who hate fun.
Of course, I resent this belief a lot. I talk about this in my forum post, so I won’t go in depth here about that, but the point is that I thought I was prepared, and I was not.
So, when I posted my thread on the forum about my experience, I was disheartened by some of the responses. A lot of people started to focus on the minutae of one of the main rules that I felt important to enforce (that of voiding – not speaking into the void in a public space, taking care to not just dump your feelings but rather attempt to engage in actual conversation).
I started to realize something about the Yesterweb community that started to depress me greatly: A sort of heel digging about self-reflection.
I noticed this a lot within the Discord. You would ask someone to think about their behavior and the shield would be put up. I can’t necessarily fault people for this – it is, after all, never exactly a pleasant thing to hear, but the resistance was astounding to me. One of the whole points of the Yesterweb was to self-reflect on the internet and your particular place in the online ecosystem, and to ask yourself what could change for the better. This includes changing yourself.
I’m tempted to call this a lack of taking responsibility, because it often feels like that. The internet is bad because of Big Bad People (which is true!) and we are all just victims.
I disagree with this sentiment, on the level that I will always disagree with the idea that being a victim of something (in this case, the predatory models of current social media) means that you are absolved of all responsibility in looking at what lingers after you leave those environments.
Many people disagreed with me, though. At least, I felt like this was an unpopular opinion. I remember one conversation in which I was asked – “This is the internet, why do you take it so seriously?”
The answer is, of course, that the internet is not just the internet. The internet is not some magic realm in which you are no longer talking to people and engaging in communication. The rules are different, but you are still speaking to another person. In the case of the Yesterweb discord, you’re speaking to almost 3k other people.
This has been a long standing frustration of mine because I felt like it was just proof that the Yesterweb community had lost the messages about what a better internet actually looks like. Many have blind nostalgia for the web of yore, not realizing that it wasn’t at all the utopian vision that they have – many others stop at the idea of having a personal website, like that is all the work they have to do.
The fact of the matter is that there is work to be done. More than ruminating on how much you miss forums. More than cataloguing all of your blinkies. More than aesthetics. There is effort to be put in and reflection to be done and genuine, actual change to be made.
I started to lose hope in this happening. I still don’t have much hope. I think the main flaw, above anything else, is size of the community but I also just feel like there has been a fundamental gulf created in what the idea for the Yesterweb is and what people are actually willing to practice.
To be honest, I don’t know what could fix this. Recently, a manifesto was created and posted for the Yesterweb. Immediately after posting it, there was little fanfare or discussion by the community, and people started to go against the tenets set out.
(As a note, you should read the manifesto. It is very good!)
Of course, I don’t want to just scold people. I do want to do that, but not exclusively.
All of this is what started to make the weight of the community start to hit my shoulders. Partially out of a selfish desire to fix things. Partially out of a single-minded anger and frustration. I won’t pretend to be innocent in this. A lot of my misery was self-inflicted.
What I can say, though, is that I am currently in the middle of a depressive slump and one of the worst I’ve had in years. I blame moderating the Yesterweb partially for this.
Let me make some things clear: This is not blaming anyone in particular, or even any groups in particular. For example, and I will keep harping on about this, the staff team has always been supportive and excellent. I will not blame them at all for this.
Like I said, part of this is self-inflicted. I threw myself into something and refused to back down out of stubborn determination even as I found it starting to seep into every other aspect of my life.
To break a Discord mod stereotype a bit, I am not a NEET nor basement dweller (not that I have anything against either of those groups). I have a job and I attend college and I’m about to graduate and start going to graduate school (hopefully). Idiotically, I decided to let a Discord server start to seep into the stress already caused by that. Water into the cracks of a rock, and then it started to get cold.
Eventually, recently, I broke. I won’t go into detail, but I had a rather harrowing moment with my mental health.
That incident is what inspired me to start talking more about this. For my own sanity, I think. I’ve been keeping a lot of things in my stomach and I need to vomit them up lest I poison myself.
I’m disappointed and angry. I cannot deny this. Both at myself and at the community as a whole. I feel like the message has been lost. I feel like the community has started to become a platform for clout rather than something meant to escape those spaces. A lot of people saw the ship sinking and decided to try and immediately get people into their orbits rather than sitting and asking themselves, genuinely, ‘why?’
Because the staff are exhausted. I cannot speak for anyone else other than the fact that we are all busy people, and we are all tired. The Yesterweb has started to become a chore.
Because the refusal to change made itself clear. Because I had a night where I was dog-piled so badly by members of the community for enforcing a rule, I had a panic attack.
Because the message is gone. A space meant for a better internet has become a platform for SEO manipulation and self-advertisement.
I wish I could end this on a better note, but I cannot. I’m depressed. I’m angry. I’m tired.
I am not going to end this with any hand-wringing about hoping this doesn’t upset anyone. If this makes you upset, sit with that. Ruminate on it. Empathize. If you feel attacked by this, maybe this is a time to reflect.
I needed to get this out there for no one else but myself. So I am no longer occasionally imploding on my friends. (which, thank you everyone who has listened to me rant these past few weeks.)
I hope by writing this all down, I can start to heal knowing that I have gotten what I’ve wanted to say out there.
Thank you for reading.