The Interwebz: The Fantasy versus The Reality

Posted: July 25, 2012 in nostalgia is a dirty word

If you had told me fifteen years ago that I would ever use the internet for anything besides the viewing of pornographic images I would have called you a damn filthy liar. Fifteen years ago was when I started my first computer programming course in high school. We made a ascii image of a horse out of random keyboard characters and then programmed 4 of them to race across the screen using a random number generator. I believe it looked something like this:

-(*)^>
………….-(*)^>
………………………..-(*)^>
….-(*)^>

It was a simple time, we were simple folk…simple and easily amused.

The only other thing we did in the class that I can even remotely remember was made our own webpage. It was a simple affair, white background, black text, blue links, tables still had borders around them instead of being set to zero. My page was all about the Predator because I had just started collecting Predator graphic novels under the mistaken impression they were good (a handful were decent, most were utter crap.) Anyway, I got to scrounge the internet for pictures to slap on to my page. This was literally my first interaction with the world wide web. You kids might not believe what I am about to tell you but I swear it is true.

1) Before Google there was actually several different internet search engines. It wasn’t just Google and then Bing if you were too lazy to switch your search bar over. I remember liking Lycos because it had a cool sci-fi looking logo . I was also fond of HotBot because I could never find shit on Lycos. Never liked Yahoo! and still don’t.

2) There was a time when you could perform an internet search and it wouldn’t come back with a link to hardcore porn in it somewhere. I mean, you could still find porn, but you would have to use pretty specific porn friendly words…like “porn” or “hot porn” or my favorite “pornicopia (the porn of plenty)”. In modern times, every word ever has been used as sexual innuendo at some point. Wiggle your eyebrows suggestively while talking and suddenly you are a master seducer. Honest though, I swear to you kiddies there was a time when looking up “Cleveland Steamers” wasn’t so much of a harrowing experience.

Of course I couldn’t look up porn in the middle of a computer class without getting into trouble. Even if I threw caution to the wind and my pants to the floor, the rapid hand movements under the desk would be slightly suspicious. It would be 3 more years and a useless college certificate before I finally managed to convince my father that a lack of a computer and internet at home was all that was stopping me from taking the graphic design world by storm. My memory after that is just a blur of filthy images but I am pretty sure I was convinced that this would never get old, this would be all I would ever need to entertain myself for the rest of my pointless existence.

I think in the end it was the porn tubes that killed the dream for me. When you can literally type any filthy act in to a search bar at the top of a site and be rewarded with a selection of videos organized by either date uploaded or length of clip (perverts choice) then the thrill of hunting and downloading porn is sort of gone.

So it was that in 2007 I decided to create a Facebook account and see what the hell else was going on with the rest of the internet. Short answer: not a whole fucking lot.

Facebook

The Concept – Keep in touch with your friends no matter where in the world they are. Share photos, stories and interesting articles with your nearest and dearest. It’s like hosting a wacky dinner party and all your friends are invited…but the food is all just photographed.

The Reality – Of the over 100 “friends” I have on Facebook there is only about three or four I interact with on a regular basis and two of those people I have never met in real life. One of them was a friend of a friend who had some interesting current events posts and her opinions on them (which meant I didn’t have to bother watching the news any more) and the other accidentally friended me in what I can only assume was a drunken stupor. Most of the rest of my time on Facebook is spent scanning my newsfeed for interesting stuff to read or statuses I can make witty replies to.

When it comes down to it, the newsfeed is just sort of the natural evolution of the mass e-mail. Back in the day the big thing to have was your own e-mail address (I now have four and at least three of them are for junk mail). The problem is a personal e-mail address, as opposed to a business address, is really not all that exciting most of the time. When I first got mine I used to check it  hourly under the misguided impression that I was always mere moments away from receiving some earth shattering correspondence from a friend or relative or an ex-classmate who wanted to admit to a huge crush on me and would I like to meet them somewhere for coffee followed by casual sex and cuddling (seems overly optimistic in hindsight). After several months of a whole lot of fuck all happening I started to do what every one with an e-mail address eventually did, I sent amusing shit I found on the internet to my friends. When I got something in return I would forward it on to the next hapless victim so we could all see “this amusing shit I found on the internet”. That to me is the entire concept behind the facebook newsfeed. Take all the pointless shit you used to e-mail back and forth to your friends and stick it in one place that all your friends can see. Of course, it still relies on you having friends who want to put up with that type of shit. Luckily, the internet solved that problem too.

Reddit

The Concept: A place for people to find like minded individuals and share the best the internet has to offer.

The Reality: This is it, this is the internet showing other parts of the internet some of the cool shit it found on the internet. This is where the mass e-mails and the Facebook feed evolved past the need for friends. Now you just throw stuff out there for the amusement of random strangers and hope they like it enough to vote it a little higher up the page so your ego can be thoroughly stroked.

Twitter

The Concept: Kind of like Facebook, only not?

The Reality: The only upside I have found to Twitter is that you can cyber stalk celebrities with an ease never before known. All you need to do is find your favorite celebrity and follow them, they don’t have to do anything from their end. Then your Twitter feed can become “a list of my future crimes and evidence of there pre-meditation.” Compare this with the unfortunate downsides of Twitter.

1) Reading the uncensored stream of thought of your favorite celebrity isn’t really all it is cracked up to be. Either they are as maddeningly mundane as you are and tweet about which airport they are currently bored in or show they are currently parked in front of OR they are no where near as savvy or witty without a talented writer putting words in their mouth and they tweet about their current kill to death ratio in the latest Call of Duty game as if it has significant meaning in life (it means you have too much time on your hands).

2) 140 characters limit on posts?! What the holy hell? I have had more verbose fortune cookies than that. So say goodbye to communicating complex ideas. Try to think of what newspaper headline would capture your intent the best. “Dr. visit leads to surprise gov’t colon inspection, story on page 6.” There is an amazing amount of third party support sites designed around allowing you to tweet over your character limit or add photos and videos. Maybe they should hire these people at Twitter and MAKE THE DAMN SITE BETTER.

Comment Sections

The Concept: Take the awesome abilities of interaction that makes the internet so unique and add it to every news article, comedy site, video or blog. Share  your opinions instantly on whatever you read or watch.

The Reality: Well the first three comments are bound to be “F1rst!!!1!” (one winner and two sad little runner’s up). Odds are that the commenter didn’t bother wasting time actually reading the article or watching the video and it isn’t likely they ever will. They came to stake a claim on the top of the comment section and then crept off into the night. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why they bothered, then I created the Rancid Monke Therom of Internet Users. You see, it is my belief that internet users are at any given time either Bored, Horny, or Stupid. Obviously there is a lot of potential for overlap but I am far too lazy to create the necessary Venn diagram. Obviously “F1rst!!!1!” commenters are smack dab in the middle of the Bored and Stupid section. The Bored part is obvious and the Stupid part is also pretty self explanatory because there has to be at least a literal million more entertaining things that these people could be doing but instead they choose to waste time reminding people where exactly the top of the comment section is. These people are to intellectual discourse what a plate of fecal matter is to fine dining. Clearly they aren’t Horny though or they would find a porn site to troll.

The rest of the comment section will be filled with people questioning the article or video writers intelligence, sanity, sexual preferences and/or  potential promiscuity of their maternal procreator in regards to the commenter on the previous evening. There will be a sprinkling of supportive comments and some commenters will treat the English language like it did something deviant and needs to be punished (no one will ever really decipher what they were trying to say nor what they have against vowels and punctuation). In the middle of it all will be one guy trying to sell pills to make your genitals the talk of your local PTA meetings or prayer group (The entrepreneurial spirit…it is what makes this country great).

Forums

The Concept: Get together with others from around the world to discuss books or movies, swap tech support tips, share news about video games. Whatever your hobby or interest, there is a forum for you out there somewhere.

The Reality: The important thing to remember is that forums are where intelligent discourse goes to die…then have it’s corpse urinated on.

Need a little tech advice for your laptop? “ha…should have bought a Mac.”
Excited about the latest release for PlayStation 3? “PS3 Sux…XBOX 4 Life.”
Having problems with your iPod? “You are such a mindless sheep…you should have bought a Zune like the rest of us.” (Yes, this was an actual post I saw and Yes, forum users are apparently irony impaired.)

Good luck trying to have an intelligent conversation about any topic on a forum when every third reply is someone suggesting they are just leaving for or coming back from a sexual rendezvous with your mother (must be some latent oedipal thing…I don’t really get it.)

Online Shopping

The Concept: Buy anything you want and have it delivered right to your door (including boner pills). Why bother leaving your home to waste time at a mall ever again?

The Reality: I actually really like the idea of online shopping. I hate malls, crowds, people invading my personal space, and those asshole kiosk workers trying to flag me down so I can buy their pointless shit (I do not need a remote controlled helicopter…not today, not ever). If I could skip all that and have everything sent to me then why the hell wouldn’t I? Not just books and movies, I would buy small appliances and flatware and towels and pens and fleshlights, whatever the hell I needed. Unfortunately there are three major problems I have with online shopping:

1) Shipping Costs – The price of not getting off my lazy ass is that I will have to pay for someone to send it out of their warehouse and have a courier of some kind drop it off. That shit ain’t cheap. I have spent 2 years as a shipper/receiver so I know how quickly the costs can add up. Heading over borders? That will cost extra. Live out in a remote area? That will cost extra. Want to insure the package in case the courier decides to drop it off a cliff never to be seen again? That will cost extra.

Some places will ship for free assuming you spend over a certain price cap. The problem is I never have enough on the first try to get free shipping. I always have to dig in to the website and find that extra book to add to my order. The idea of online shopping was supposed to be that I could get what I want delivered right to my door without hassle. Instead I get what I want, plus some extra crap that seemed okay and padded the bill out nicely.

2) The Waiting – The other problem of online shopping is waiting for delivery. This doesn’t seem like such a big deal until you realize how many companies manufacture their products in overseas factories. I once tracked a friend’s iPad order from China to Alaska to Kentucky to Concord, Ontario to the Depot in Edmonton. Who wants to wait that long when I can spend 20 minutes on a bus and have one in my hand before I leave the store? Unless the item is out of stock or I want one but am not eager to get it in my hot, greasy hands right away. How often is that the case?

3) No One At Home – Here is probably the biggest obstacle I have to online shopping. Every time I have ever ordered online I have had to put much time and thought into where to have the item delivered so that someone will actually be able to sign for it. Odds are most couriers will require a signature and odds are they will show up when you are at work and leave a “we will come back at an even less convenient time” card. Couriers are off work at the same time as the rest of us (for the most part) making it near impossible to schedule around your work day. Do you dare have it shipped to your work and hope it doesn’t get lost in the mail room shuffle or stolen by your light fingered co-workers? Can you send it to a friend’s house or work and trust them to sign for it? How many times will they try to deliver before you have to come down to the piss poorly located depot and get it? Unless you are a stay-at-home parent or unemployed your shit is never going to be “delivered right to your door”…at least not on the first try.

Blogs

The Concept: Be the writer you always wanted to be, only with no editing or paycheck.

The Reality: I have been doing this blog for over a year and written over 86 posts. I still have no fucking idea what you people want to read about. Mostly I just try to amuse myself between the days of drudgery at my various dead end jobs and the nights of pointless self pleasuring in the bathroom of the local food court. God do I ever need an editor and a sense of shame.

Rancid Monke

Comments
  1. The mall kiosk part made me laugh.

  2. Jeanette says:

    I wasn’t drunk, I was bamboozled by the facebook app. Best mistake ever.

    • rancidmonke says:

      I would make some snide comment about computer literacy but the truth is I pulled the same trick on someone else a few weeks ago. One minute I am searching their FB profile for…research material, then I drop the phone and suddenly they were friend requested. Turns out you can’t take that back.

      Of course, you will always be my favorite mistake Jeanette.

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