Happy Holidays – A Christmas Message from Freezenet!

We’ve reached Christmas of 2020. Drew Wilson would like to wish you happy holidays and shares some thoughts on the year that was.

Happy holidays, merry Christmas, and all those variations in between! One thing is for sure, this is definitely not the Christmas anyone imagined last year, yet here we are. Some of us are in quarantine, others (like me) wind up being considered essential services and work through the pandemic so you can stay home. The hours have been insane and the work is harder than ever before. I can see the burnout in a lot of people and I, personally, have felt the physical strain – getting close a couple of times to calling in sick so I could heal from various muscle strains which is absolutely no fun at all.

One thing is for sure, 2020 has been an absolute dumpster fire of a year. It started off with the massive wildfires in Australia. After that, we saw the global pandemic that seemed to always find ways to keep everyone as absolutely miserable as possible throughout the year. Whether it is through economic, mental health, financial, or physical health, one way or another, the pandemic found a way to make everyone’s absolutely terrible.

On the surface, you might think that if you are online, then the pandemic doesn’t affect you that much. After all, you can’t exactly catch COVID-19 over the Internet. Well, the Internet realm suffered quite a bit as well. Save for those working in the e-commerce realm, pretty much everyone was affected as well.

This year, we saw Slyck shut down, joining ZeroPaid in the digital graveyard. That wound up being a pretty unnerving thing to see. Out of all the people who worked hard in making those sites the way they were, I ended up being the sole survivor, floating myself by going through the trials and tribulations of building another site from the ground up. The only reason either of those sites have any legacy at all is because I absolutely refused to give up. At times, this is a very lonely pursuit to carry on where both of those sites left off. There are days where you really feel like you are the only one on the planet fighting the good fight. Still, this is a challenge I took on.

Of course, COVID-19 had quite an impact on Freezenet as well. Ad revenue plummeted by as much as 40% on some months. This, naturally, sparked questions in my mind about whether all of this is worth it. Is there even a market for digital rights news anymore? Do people even care about spy programs, biometric surveillance, copyright issues, censorship, independent journalism, and Internet freedom? If you saw what I saw during the summer, this became a depressingly legitimate question and one that didn’t have a clear answer. Not something you’d expect in our interconnected world of today to say the least.

There is, though, the counter to it. Am I really willing to give up because of a particularly nasty bump on the road? After everything I’ve been through, is a global pandemic really going to be what forces me to throw my hands up in the air and walk away? The answer to that is a more clear “no”. So, what then?

Well, just keep moving. As you can tell, the differences between this time last year and this year are practically night and day. There used to be four social buttons on the right hand side. Now, it’s a huge collection as we expand our reach into different networks and services. We’ve made some upgrades to our back end to improve the overall site performance. Then, the biggest upgrade of them all: the official Wiki. That helped increase the overall size of this site by nearly 50%. In one year, that is insane. More features than ever before means this site is moving forward.

Now, we’ve made it to the end of the year. We are starting to see signs of optimism everywhere. The COVID-19 vaccine is starting to become available to people around the world. Investments are starting to flow again. Trump will be out before the end of next month. We are starting to see the possibility of conclusions to the Brexit debacle. Ad revenue is starting to get back to normal. We even have a number of exciting projects we are getting close to unveiling for the new year. The theme we see everywhere is hope that 2021 will be a better year – partly because of the attitude of “it couldn’t get any worse than 2020”.

I couldn’t help but think back to the lowest points during the Summer when I see all this optimism now. Had I thrown in the towel when times were tough, I would have felt like an absolute idiot by this time of the year. The thought process would have likely been along the lines of thinking about what might have been had I just stuck with it. Now? I don’t have to wonder, we’re living it now. Freezenet now has loads of promise behind it. The possibilities for this site are plenty. The outlook isn’t anywhere near as bleak as before. Because of that, I am glad I dug in and kept moving forward like I did despite everything that was going on.

So, although this is an unusual Christmas, we hope you had a great Christmas this year. More importantly, we hope that things get better for 2021 thanks to the number of promising reasons we are seeing now. We’ll get through this, I’m sure of it!

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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