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"Oh for a local"

Posted: 14 July, 2023

When I left Uni, back in the mists of time, I moved into a house opposite a pub—the Bent Brief in Portswood. On the outside it looked much like any other student pub. Run-down but with a slight psychedelic chic. Unlike most student dives, the Brief was run by adults who lived there. Andy and Moreen. I quickly fell in love with the place, and it became my regular haunt. By the time I moved opposite, I'd been frequenting, off and on, for three years. I'd spend another glorious couple with it acting as my social hub.

I didn't realise it then, but the Brief was special. Eclectic. Patrons ranged from poets to professors. We had accountants and a militant lesbian Americas Cup yacht racer. A millionaire, and the permanently unemployed. Students and Professionals. No one was arsed about what you did for a job, you were just a person down the pub. Don't be a dick. We've chosen this place as our public house, and we won't take kindly to someone wandering in, shouting their gob off.

Good pubs are comunities that help each other out. Pass on the tips. Do each other favours.

Regulars ease people into the fold, police the dicks, and dictate the vibe. Every pub's a little different and you'll probably see familiar faces when you drink somewhere else. It's fine to have a quickie in the Honest Lawer, but you'll be thinking of the Brief.

Those sorta Pubs aren't typical any more. Closed because they couldn't pivot to food or were harried out of existence by the council. In their place are the chain pubs. Wetherspoons. Greene Kings. Large spaces where you're shouting over a hundred people. Identikit faux boozers with the same menu, two-for-one offers, and underpaid staff, because someone, somewhere, decided that actually, what we need is a pub that plays brit-pop and has no fucking seats.

And I guess, if you're 20, yeah, that's what a pub is—a box that sells cheap booze, where you go to get shit-faced. And then get into a fight while you queue for the Taxi home, cos, well, you had to travel 10 miles into town because all the fucking pubs in your 'burb closed down...

The internet's a bit like a city and its pubs. If you squint.

There was a time when there were loads of 'em: Usenet, bulletin boards, IRC, live journals, forums—communities focused on a 'thing', whatever that was.

No one was massively arsed what your real name was. You were just a person on the 'net. Don't be a dick. We've chosen this place as one of our online hangouts, and we won't take kindly to people wandering in, shouting their gob off.

The best of those spaces were communities that helped each other out. Passed on the tips. Did each other favours. The mods eased people into the fold, policed the dicks, and dictated the vibe. Every space was a little different and you'd probably see familiar faces when you posted somewhere else. You'd be reading a thread on RLLMUK, but you'd be thinking of Yak Yak.

Those sorta online spaces aren't typical any more. Loads have closed or need help finding people to maintain and run their back ends. In their place is Social Media. Enormous online spaces where you're shouting over hundreds of people. Identikit faux communites, with the same "free speech" menu, ad-driven surveillance, and right-wing billionaire bollocks from the owners.

And I guess, if you're 20, yeah, that's what the internet is. A place you go to find an audience. And then get into a fight with a fucking Nazi White Supremicist incel because all the places you could have gone to find your people have been driven out of existence.


I'm not on Facebook, Instagram, Bluesky, Twitter or Threads. I'm done with it. I'm not interested in being online to whore my work, self-promote, chase likes, subscribers, or any of the bullshit that's become the accepted norm over the last 10 years. It's enshittified beyond all use.

Which is fucking annoying, innit?

So why have I spent an hour trying to compare the internet to a pub? Because most of the people getting excited about Twitter's death spiral and Threads arrival have forgotten the thing that made the internet special in the first place: community.

We don't go to the town square to be heard. Most of us don't go to town unless we really bloody well have to.


Burn it all. Burn it to the fucking ground. And if you're using enshittification as a measure of success, you've got it all wrong.

You get to pick your friends. You get to pick who you listen to. Associate with. Stand next to. In real life AND online. That's federation of sorts, innit?

So I'm just a bloke on the Fedi-verse. Join us. Don't be a dick.