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My leave from Instagram, some thoughts on online platforms, and what I'll do next
We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of the account
@wavetro on Instagram, which passed away peacefully last week. Let's reflect on why this happened, and why I still use the online platforms I'm currently on.
Last Thursday, I officially left Instagram with this post.
You don’t have to go read what I wrote on there: the basic gist is that I actually enjoyed most of the app, but I wish it was still its own company instead of being owned by Facebook/Meta. An independent Instagram would probably let me put links directly in my posts by now (instead of just my bio,) and it would probably not be a total spyware nightmare too.
Despite how effective it is for creators to get noticed and for normal users to find posts they like, Instagram seems purpose-built to prevent people from going to other parts of the internet. It's really only good for building an audience if you NEVER plan to leave the app and take your fans with you, so being a creator on there feels like being trapped in a cult.
I really appreciate anyone from Instagram that signed up for this newsletter after I left, thank you for fighting your way out of the endless feed to be here!
And what a shame that Instagram’s smaller flaws in an otherwise enjoyable platform are such huge dealbreakers. I feel bad for the artists that have to use it, as it's basically one of their only options to become known. Oh well, it's always good to avoid the Zuck.
It’s been three years since I left Twitter, and it’s funny how not a single person needs to ask me if I ever want to go back.
Not only did my life improve immensely from leaving Twitter BEFORE the Elon Musk saga, but I think ALL Twitter clones are doomed from the start.
Mastodon, Bluesky, Threads, Cohost, and in some cases even Reddit are great ideas while their communities are still small, but once they get too big, they either run out of money, or live long enough to resort to depressing news, drama, and porn to keep their users hooked (usually with little to no control over what shows up in their feeds.) There is a nonzero chance of suddenly opening porn in your Twitter feed while out in public because someone you follow decided to like a horny tweet on their main account, and you cannot turn off liked tweets from showing up in your feed. Ask me how I know.
(Instagram, in contrast, is squeaky clean, but it’s so ad-friendly it feels like being in a bubble from the rest of the internet.)
I do miss pre-COVID Twitter and how easy it was to make Stickmen 2020 go viral on it, but that efficient virality is a double-edged sword. Once sites like Twitter reach a certain point of growth, they're only fun for anonymous users that like fanning the flames of chaos. Creators only exist on Twitter to eventually get torn down for entertainment.
And then there’s Musk. Like many others, I was originally duped into thinking Elon was smarter than he actually is with his rocket ships and electric cars, until one day he bought Twitter for some reason. His decision-making ever since has revealed him to be just a very lucky idiot, but he is exactly what Twitter deserves. I really hope he never walks back his braindead decision to cross out the only profitable thing Twitter has left with an 𝕏.
The only downside I actually have from leaving Twitter is that I’m 200% fucked if my YouTube channel accidentally gets banned or striked. I have no active Twitter presence to ever get the attention of YouTube’s support team. But I’ll take my chances.
Out of all the dystopian big tech platforms out there, let’s talk about the best one.
Yes, I’m dead serious. YouTube is an amazing website. But DO NOT EVER make this clear to Google, because the platform has only stayed this good from all the negative pressure of its complaining users.
You don't scroll an endless feed, you actually get to choose what you watch. Long-form videos have more nuance and context than neurotic tweets written at the speed of news. It’s forced to stay usable without an account (to not break all those videos embedded on websites around the world,) which in turn lets you use SponsorBlock, uBlock Origin, Return YouTube Dislike, youtube-dl, NewPipe, Invidious, etc. Even the usual problems YouTube has with copyright abuse has drastically improved in the last two or three years.
But the best part of the site is how useful it is as a learning tool. Sure, there's a lot of crap to get addicted to, but you can also train the algorithm to only give you helpful videos to learn something new. Maybe you want to quit Uber Eats and learn to cook, or pick up soldering or knitting. How else are there news headlines about literal teenagers getting hired to work on Spider-Verse 2 or a Backrooms movie? They learned Blender for free on YouTube! What other big tech website out there can benefit its users without requiring them to become creators? (Instructional reels/TikToks don't count.)
All that doesn't even take into account of how independent movies and animation pilots can also succeed and thrive on YouTube too, though there is a much better site for finished works like that. A site that had its animation scene killed by YouTube in the mid-2010s, in fact. (Hint: the site's name rhymes with Blue Sounds.)
Google is still evil, don't ever forget that. The support team for YouTube is super evasive. The ads are all either scams or trashy mobile games. There's even a built-in TikTok clone that I will never use.
In fact, Google only loses money on keeping YouTube alive so that there's never a better alternative, and to also collect advertising data like no tomorrow. They're only slightly better than Zuck since you can still use YouTube with tracking blockers, but they're also trying to change that by breaking those blockers in all Google Chrome-based browsers via Manifest v3. Opera, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi- they're all the same Chrome under the hood. Google got the whole world hooked on its browser, and even funds Firefox’s entire existence just to avoid an antitrust suit.
But as someone who’s pretty much grown up on YouTube, it’s better the devil I know (YouTube) than the devil I don’t (Instagram) to keep myself known online. I still hate how YouTube warped my brain as a kid when I accidentally found success as a hobbyist creator way too early in life, but I’m somehow still grateful for it compared to other big websites. What an abusive relationship I’m in!
Either way, for anyone wondering if I’ll ever be leaving this app, just know that I will probably die before I stop posting to YouTube. But don't call me a YouTuber, because I wouldn't ever mind seeing this site get replaced. Unless it’s something from ByteDance.
Speaking of replacements: here's one that got close, but didn't quite make it.
For those unaware, I mirror everything I upload on YouTube to a small competitor called Odysee. It had a lot of promise a few years ago, but nowadays it’s on life support.
The big thing to note is that I’ve never seen so many large YouTubers (Sisyphus 55, SomeOrdinaryGamers, Louis Rossmann, etc) repost their videos on a competing site as much as Odysee. No one really touched Vidme or Storyfire, but something about Odysee really clicked for most people.
However, after their parent company LBRY lost an SEC lawsuit and had their main source of revenue revoked, the Odysee team has been dead silent on how the site will make any new money to stay afloat. I think they’re going to shut down any day now.
Besides, the hot new YouTube alternative is some site called Rumble now. I do not want to bother with any more of these YouTube replacements that are all destined to run out of money, and I will probably just end up self-hosting a copy of my videos. But not before Odysee goes down first.
I respect what Odysee tried to do and how far it got, and I will continue to upload my future videos on there until it shuts down. It has a lot of existing YouTubers, it has a decent interface, and it especially has an active userbase, which is no small feat.
But there's no money to keep it alive.
Man, all these options still kinda suck. Can't we go back to something simpler?
Yes, yes we can.
Hello to anyone reading this from Newgrounds! You guys are the only site I cross-post these newsletter emails to. You guys are also my favorite online platform on this list, better than YouTube and by extension WAY better than Instagram. It’s a much smaller, more niche website, but I’m thrilled that the things I create land squarely in that niche.
Before any of my 3D animations blew up on YouTube, there were already people on Newgrounds gathering around the first episode of cavefolder and the initial Stickmen 2020 episodes, pretty much predicting their future success. Users of the site can directly interact with creators via messages or reviews, since it’s not as massive as other platforms. You can post any movie, audio, image, or game you like, as long as you made it yourself. The site has creation baked into its DNA, and rewards you for trying to make anything at all.
So what’s the catch? The biggest one (that you’re probably already aware of) is its public image. Even after the total Elon meltdown of Twitter, I’ve heard of artists still not wanting to move to Newgrounds due to its history. Its peak era was in the 2000s for pioneering edgy Flash games and animations, and despite the breakout success of Friday Night Funkin bringing in a newer audience, it’s also still notorious for hosting a shitload of porn. People also tend to unfairly drag all of Newgrounds whenever one of its individual creators acts out. The site has a complicated reputation.
It's also hard to be a Newgrounds user if you're not interested in being a creator AND you're not interested in any of the creations you find on the site. It's a harsh reality, but a valid reason the site doesn't have more users. You can't just make people change their interests if they'd rather watch gameplay clips or TikTok compilations.
But there is a very robust rating system powered by its users that filters out low-quality posts and organizes everything else into Everyone, Teen, Mature, and Adult categories. Do you know how refreshing it is to just turn off the “A” button and not have to worry about seeing any porn? Is that so DIFFICULT for you to do, Twitter??
Thanks to that rating system, the coomerism stays confined to the adult content, and everyone acts normally on the E and T-rated stuff. Everyone can co-exist on Newgrounds in their respective areas, and it makes it easier for people to get along. You will run into the occasional annoying child or provocative edgelord, but by and large the people on Newgrounds are damn authentic. It’s like going to a bar and talking with crass but honest locals, as opposed to a big tech website where everyone is dressed up in suits and sponsored products.
Even if you have a few bad interactions with the community, all Newgrounds users still respect you if you are creative in any way. If there’s a subculture or different mindset you wish Newgrounds had, you can start posting your work on there to be the change, and people will largely be open to your new ideas.
A site like this is obviously not very financially viable, so it runs entirely on paid support from its users. Despite how risky that is, it seems to be working so far. Newgrounds’ legacy and community may keep the site afloat in the long run.
At the time of writing, I find it very unlikely I would ever see myself leaving Newgrounds. Whenever building an audience on its rival platforms gets tiring, their small but meaningful community raises a glass and reminds you that your creativity still matters. It’s comfy here.
Newgrounds and YouTube are great, but if you also want to be 100% safe…
…then nothing gets safer than the tried-and-true email newsletter. Some of you are reading this from your email inbox right now, and even if every online platform blew up tomorrow, you would still be getting these emails from me.
Substack, while technically trying to be a social media platform, does things a little differently. It lets you start a blog and collect subscribers, but those subscribers only have to enter their email to be signed up. No registering an account password or any slowdowns like that, just an email. Crucially, Substack also lets me export this email list at any time, so I can jump to any email newsletter service I want and never lose my audience. It’s bulletproof, since everyone has an email.
The site also lets me set a custom domain, which is why you actually know this newsletter by
news.wavetro.net, and not
However, there’s nothing inherently fun or exciting about an email newsletter. It sounds old and boring to the average internet user, and there’s not really any variety with the user discovery on Substack like there is on any other app (unless you’re a scholar or something.) That’s why it’s best to use something like Substack in combination with another website or two. With enough luck, you’ll have some amount of people signing up for your newsletter, letting you rest easy that you won’t ever lose contact with those fans.
In short, I wish email newsletters and self-made websites were more common, so I’m gonna be using something like Substack for as long as I can.
If you haven't already, please consider subscribing to mine if you check your emails!
YouTube Community Posts
If you didn’t come here from your email inbox or my Newgrounds post, then you probably came here from my YouTube Community post! If that’s the case, you might also be wondering:
“Hey! How come you never post any of these updates on the YouTube Community tab?”
It’s because YouTube likes to show community posts to EVERYONE in the algorithm, even people who have never seen my videos before. I want people’s first experience with my channel to be through my work and not my update posts, so I try to keep my YT Community-posting to a minimum. This might change in the future, but not anytime soon.
So here’s the more interesting stuff: what have I been up to?
For anyone that got here from YouTube, you might not know what I’ve been doing since my last video “House Shake” in February.
There is another wall of text in my last newsletter post explaining why I decided to quit game dev, but I’ll just give you the summary: I had a moment of clarity and realized that sitting in front of code for hours is a pretty lame lifestyle. I’ve since been experimenting with other ways to break my old label of being the “Blender 3D guy,” since I’ve been burned out by Blender in general lately.
I recently picked up a new modeling program called Plasticity, and also started turning my 3D models into vector art with Inkscape, as you can see from these new artworks I made over the past few months:
It’s amazing how much has improved over these practice pieces! I can’t even pick a favorite.
However, I am now done making these, and I would like to try making something more interesting with this new vector art style. Something that can be posted in the form of a YouTube video, without necessarily being a video in itself. (It could even end up in the Newgrounds animation portal, but it probably won't qualify.)
The details are pretty fuzzy, and I’ll need to disappear into my writing cave for a few months to plan this out, but I think I’ve figured out the future of wavetro for real this time. In other words, I’ll be sure to have something VERY cool for you in my next post. I’m talking something with the same level of ambition and scale as Stickmen 2020, but without the part where I nearly kill myself to make it happen.
Exciting! But no other details for now unfortunately, you’ll have to stay tuned…
Until we meet again!