One way to make sense of the change in the way we live online is to consider how the language we use to talk about our digital selves has evolved. Take terms like cybercitizen and netizen, which each play on the metaphor that the Internet is a structured city or community. According to Google Ngrams, these words found their greatest use in the heydey of Geocities and have been in decline ever since. This happened as we began clicking friend buttons instead of writing in the guestbooks of neighborly strangers. It happened as we traded in our HTML editors for the sleek blue layouts and pre-set photo sizes of Facebook. In other words, we stopped being frontiersmen and started being consumers, conceding the role of maker in our Wild West to corporations. And build they did.
In short, we gave up our netizenship.