IRC is the Only Viable Chat Protocol

September 18, 2023    Bookmark

I touched on the problems of centralisation and why de-centralisation was a key tenet of the old Internet in my acclaimed article Make the Web Great Again, and Discord does not get nearly enough bad press for its role in destroying this aspect of the Internet. Much as the dreaded Reddit has largely paved a fascist monopoly over the niche once occupied by a bounty of independent Web forums, Discord has done the same with the chat world, replacing the sea of independent and free IRC servers with a single corporate walled garden whose owners each user must avoid offending in any way, lest they be entirely cast out of the public square.

This problem is so endemic on the modern Internet that not only is there a sea of unintentionally comical Neocities “Web 1.0” websites featuring their owners jabbering about how much they miss the old Internet while inviting people to chat on the webmaster/webmistress’ Discord server in the same breath, but even actually respectable people and outfits (who I will not name out of politeness) that have migrated to Discord because all of their misguided friends use it and refuse to budge. Even I, for all of my frenzied rabble-rousing, briefly created a Discord account a few years ago to speak with a friend before quitting the service out of disgust.

Nonetheless, for all of the social issues it causes me, being autistic has also given me the stubbornness of a mountain, and I have long since vowed to never touch the service again no matter who or what I may need it for. Each person who avoids big technology companies pushes the stake slightly deeper into the frigid, rotten heart of the privacy vampire that Discord and other big technology companies are (no offence intended to comparatively benevolent actual vampires with this comparison). Each person who avoids these services is also one less carrot for the vampire to dangle away over other people’s heads to convince them to stay in its cave.