I’m on the Internet a lot, way too much really. It’s gotten to the point where I have an app installed on my computer that actually blocks the Internet for a preset amount of time. It’s kind of sad, that I can’t sit still for more than ten minutes without having my consciousness hijacked by the overwhelming urge to see what’s happening on Facebook (tip: nothing’s ever, ever happening on Facebook.) But it’s a real thing, the Internet sucking away minutes and hours of my productivity. Even when I’m not on the Internet, I’ll start thinking about the Internet.
It’s funny how certain trends get started online. For example, I’m on the web site reddit a lot. It took me a while to really figure out how it worked, but it’s basically a giant forum where people post links to pictures and articles. It’s a rabbit hole that’s easy to fall through and get lost. Under each post, users can add comments, other users can add comments to those comments. You’re given the option to upvote or downvote anything, with the idea being that the cream always rises to the top. There’s more to it than that … actually, I’m trying to think what more to it there is, and I don’t think there is any more to it. That’s it.
And with a ceaseless stream of new information and stupid jokes and cool pictures it’s easy to get lost, to have five minutes turn into two hours. I’ll pry my eyes away from the screen, I hadn’t noticed that the sun set while I was reading people dissect the different possible meanings of a stupid image macro, or watching like a voyeur as two online strangers engaged in a vicious verbal war over who best captained the USS Enterprise (tip: Picard.)
While there’s a lot of stuff out there to keep me entertained, there’s also a lot of nonsense. Like the grammar nazis who make it their virtual life’s mission to scour the web and tear apart the grammatical errors of complete strangers in the most condescending way possible. Or people who add nothing to discussions but copy and pasted segments of previous discussions.
It’s actually pretty cool when you find yourself reading certain forums and you’ll notice patterns begin to emerge, subtle inside jokes that would only make sense to certain people who happened to have been on reddit at the same time. For example, and this is totally going to be one of those stories that’s not at all entertaining when explained by someone else, a few months ago, this redditor posted a picture of a giant safe he found in the basement of a new house he just moved into.
“I wonder what’s in this safe?” he asked the Internet, and the Internet got interested, like yeah, what is in that safe? And that was it for a while, there wasn’t any more news about the safe. But people kept referencing the safe in random conversations about stuff that had nothing to do with the safe. It became the punch line to a joke that was never fully articulated, like any time a comment thread started to unravel, someone would link back to a link that had something to do with that safe. Subreddits popped up dedicated to figuring out what could possibly be hidden away inside. Other users created various hoaxes, claiming to have cracked the safe open.
I have no idea what eventually wound up happening, as much of the safe trend has subsided by this point, but every now and then something about the safe will pop up in random conversation, and I’ll sit there and laugh to myself at my computer, and the sound of my laughter snaps me out of my Internet, brings me back to reality. I’m like, what am I laughing at? A safe? I can’t even really explain why it’s at all funny or even worth my time. But I’m engaged, it’s so weird, this little online world that I spend way too much of my time in.
While I’m on the reddit topic, I just wanted to complain about two pretty annoying trends I’ve been noticing for a while now. The first one is the word “this.” It’s a lazy verbal trick that people use as an affirmation when seeing something that they agree with. Like if I see a funny picture on a subreddit and someone makes an interesting comment, it’s like everybody else has to write out the word “this” as a reply. Yes, this. I like this. This. It’s a waste of everybody’s time. If you like something enough that you’re actually moved to write out the word this, just click on the upvote button. Nothing’s more annoying that reading a thread where every other paragraph is littered with “this, this, this.”
The second annoying little tick is somewhat similar, although used to express a different sentiment: “nope.” People write out “nope” as a reply to something that’s scary or uncomfortable. Like if there’s a picture of a giant spider, or a story about a guy who goes down to his basement and thinks that saw a ghost, everybody’s like, “nope, nope, nope.” “I would have noped out of that basement fast.”
Anyway, I realize that the only thing more annoying than spending too much time on the Internet is then getting off the Internet and spending even more time writing about the Internet. This is like a big Internet circle jerk. It’s like I unplug myself but I’m still somehow wired in, my brain is still firing off thoughts and comments as if I were still online. I’m sure everybody deals with this problem in one way or another, like everybody’s got their favorite web sites that they spend too much time on. Or maybe it’s just me. How would Jesus have managed his life/virtual life balance? I have no idea. I should just get away from my computer for a while.