I’ve recently reached that age where I catch myself starting to say things like, “When I was a kid, nobody did stuff like that. Kids these days! Idiots, the lot of them! Get away from my Mercer Raceabout, you fecal-faced gong farmers!” And, fortunately, I don’t. Because not only do I not own a Mercer Raceabout, but things aren’t any different today than when I was a kid. In fact, they aren’t any different than they were fifty years ago. At least where I grew up in America. Only the styles have changed. And rap music appeared. And then, of course, like everything cool, it was appropriated to the point of banality by white people. But little kids still fight each other, call each other names, build hierarchical social structures at school, play games to torture one another and in the process gain that sense of superiority (or at least gratitude) that they aren’t the ones being tortured, hate their parents, flick their beans, punch their clowns and so forth and so on.
Except for one thing: The Internet.
We had video games, but no Internet. Before that was broadcast TV, before that was radio, before that was genuine social interaction: labor meetings, bar fights, gang rumbles, sewing circles, magnate orgies, public hangings. But none of that stuff was quite like the Internet.
The Internet not only gives you a voice among a vast group of people you don’t know just by having a keyboard on which to type, but makes you think, as you do, that you actually are one of the smartest people in the chat room.
Plus, it’s an encyclopedia of stupid waiting to be opened and perused at any hour of the day, anytime of year. It was another lurch in the downward spiral of nose-food-tube-accessible, popular media that began with radio and had twenty tons of even more stupid fastened to it as soon as social media was invented.
I’m guessing the end of it all will be humans experiencing every previously-categorized human emotion with a satisfying resolution to each day while actually, in reality, being hooked up to a life-support machine and used as an energy source by the very machines they built to bring them this type of virtual reality in the first place.
Funny how so much of life goes back to The Matrix.
You think that’s unfair? Just type in ‘WTF’ into the Internet, right now. Or the word ‘funny.’ I guarantee you the results will come back: Bear falls on chainsaw, cuts itself in half lengthwise. Pregnant woman slips in the gore. People on YouTube write, ‘Should be another book of the Bible.’
But that’s not to say there aren’t advantages. And it’s not to say people don’t learn things from it, more so than they ever did popular radio or television. There’s just too much there. And while being able to click on a video and in five minutes know how to use a stud finder is one thing, spending half your day shopping for over-sized dildos and lube on donkeydongs.com is something else entirely. And, for adults, there’s no discrete barrier to allowing one and regulating or limiting the other. Except their own frontal lobes. Which seem to be slowly liquefying the longer they sit, eyeballs crossed, inches from a computer screen, day in and day out.
Humans weren’t meant to remain still for any given length of time, T, counted from whenever a single one of those people chooses to go to sleep, zzzzz, minus the summation of the number of minutes, n, where n = 1, that they spent not being in front of a computer screen from the point at which they wake up, a, averaged over an adult lifetime.
They started out as hunters, not whatever it is they’ve become today. Well, technically, they started out as chimps, but after they made that transition they developed the necessary habit of packing up and following their easily-killable, four-legged food wherever it went. Until they very likely accidentally invented agriculture, most likely due to the actions of primitive women, not men, who used to stay back at home and do all the important domestic shit and who therefore wound up as the 10,000 BCE equivalent of a 1950s suburban housewife.
Without the Quaaludes and Tempranillo.
Because there wasn’t any of that back then.
I guess you could argue that watching crops grow is kind of like being on the Internet. You do a little search. For land. Use a search…engine, there’s a fucking mouse someplace. Mice. FarmVille. Facebook. Fuck, I don’t know.
But that doesn’t matter. Because I wanted to talk about the downfall of civilization that’s now been accelerated due to the onset and rise of the Internet. But I got a little sidetracked. And now I ran out of space.
I blame the Internet.
Because that will, in essence, be both the eventual acme and zenith of the World Wide Web’s contribution to mankind: A destruction of the human attention span, the neutralization of frontal lobe function, the reduction of human interaction, a loss of a sense of agency, the complete atomization of humankind and the resulting translation of the expression of emotions into ‘likes’ and ‘follows’. But right now, no one can see that far ahead. All it is right now is just…getting a little sidetracked.
You start out searching for one thing online and the next thing you know you’re watching an orangutan peeing into its own mouth. And you’re like, ‘How did I get here? I was looking up the history of the space program.’
But then you’re like, ‘Oh, right: Space Program, Cold War, Arms Race, Russian Military, Russian Professional Wrestlers, Nikolai Volkov, Nikolai Gogol, Nikolai Gogol’s favorite writer was Edgar Allen Poe, short stories of Edgar Allen Poe, bloodthirsty orangutans, pee-thirsty orangutans.’ And there you have it.
I mean, it’s all actually pretty intuitive, if you think about it.