Tag Archives: Internet

32 and a half signs that you’re on the Internet/using a computer/or your cell phone


  1. You clicked on this link. It was blue and then you clicked on it, and when you hit the back button, it turned purple. Unless you’re in incognito mode, in which case it’ll probably stay blue. Or unless you’re on a phone, in which case you didn’t click on anything, you just tapped.
  2. You’re wearing a shirt. If it’s cold outside, you might even be wearing a sweater. If you’re on the subway and it’s raining out and you’re reading this on your phone, a parka isn’t totally out of the question either.
  3. Your leg is tapping on the floor. Isn’t that crazy that you don’t even notice it anymore? Tap, tap, tap, tap, your roommate used to say stuff like, “Stop tapping! Seriously, what’s wrong with you, everything’s falling off the desk, I can’t concentrate! Are you listening to me?” But you weren’t listening, not really, not enough to give a response, and he moved out months ago.
  4. Your cell phone is constantly less than thirty percent charged.
  5. And you’re at a restaurant and you ask the waiter, “Hey man, do you guys have an iPhone 4S charger?” and the waiter looks at you for a second, he can’t outright tell you to go fuck off, so he just kind of stares at you for a while, hoping that through his nonverbal response, you’ll get the hint, like stop wasting my time, of course we don’t keep chargers around for the guests. But you don’t get the hint, so you try, “Can you ask anybody in the back if they have a charger? Any of the other waiters?”
  6. Everything that you read is in numbered bullet points. Like this one right here, number six.
  7. And number seven too. It’s like, there really isn’t any difference between number six and number seven, it’s only by me, the writer, pressing the enter key that
  8. I arbitrarily decide to make a completely new “sign” or “reason.” And that’s how we got from six to eight without having changed topics at all, not really.
  9. But man, when I started writing, 32 and half signs didn’t seem like that big of a challenge. But here I am, I’m only nine deep, I can’t let the readers down, but I’m beginning to suspect that they’re seeing right through me, that I hadn’t really thought out this list, that, sure, three or four of these might be somewhat entertaining, but the rest?
  10. Pure filler. You’re reading pure filler right here.
  11. You’re in an airport terminal waiting for your flight, and that guy’s been hogging the wall outlet for the past twelve minutes, so you ask him, “Hey man, are you going to be done with that outlet soon? My phone’s at six percent.” But he says, “Sorry, my laptop’s at five percent, they take a lot longer to charge than phones do. If you want, you can watch me surf the Internet. I’m reading this list on BuzzFeed right now, “17 Things You’re Doing While You’re Waiting For Your Flight To Start Boarding.”
  12. You’re wearing a shirt. Wait, I said that already. You’re wearing pants.
  13. You’re probably not wearing pants.
  14. Pull up your pants, man, or at least lock the door.
  15. You’re out to dinner, and you don’t want to keep taking your phone out to finish reading this list, but you can’t pay attention to anything else, so you excuse yourself to use the bathroom, and you step outside the restaurant to finish it up, and you look up to see if everything’s OK back at the table, but nobody’s at the table, everyone’s outside with you, they’re on the Internet too.
  16. You’re sitting shotgun in your parents’ new Ford Explorer, your phone is totally out of battery, the giant computer center console clearly advertises its ability to seamlessly integrate your phone’s browser with the car’s navigation system, but does that mean that it’ll be able to charge everything up? Mom? Do you know how to use this? You’ve never looked at the manual? OK, mom? Mom, can I use your phone? Because mine’s out of battery. Eleven percent? I’ll just use three percent, I promise. No, I won’t touch your Candy Crush, seriously, I stopped playing that game weeks ago.
  17. You’re reading this and you’re thinking, “Oh my God, that is so true.”
  18. You’re reading this and you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t really relate to this one.”
  19. You’re reading this and you’re not even concerned that I’m saying one thing and then I’m saying the exact opposite right below.
  20. You’re not reading this at all, someone linked to it on Facebook and you clicked, “Open in new tab,” but you already have so many tabs open, so many other Internet articles and lists that you saw on your news feed, there isn’t enough screen space to fit all of the tabs, and so you can’t even tell what the tabs are, there’s no room for labels, but still, you look at the browser, you think, I’ll read all of those, I’ll get to them eventually, and then months later your computer will freeze or you’ll be forced to reboot for an update, you’ll look at the fresh browser screen and think, wow, that was a relief, a new start, no old links to weigh me down, but just as you resolve to only open links that you’ll actually read, the browser flashes, “Restoring last session,” and there they are, all of them, tons of lists, this list, you’ll finish reading it eventually, you’ll get to it soon.
  21. You’re saying to yourself, “We’re only at number 21? This whole list could have been condensed to two, maybe even one. Why did he decide 32 and a half? What a bunch of nonsense, and we’re barely halfway through. What the hell, man, why do I keep clicking on these lists, seriously, does anybody proofread these things? Why are they so popular? Is somebody actually making money off of content like this?”
  22. You’re scrolling all the way down without reading, just to get a sense of how long this thing is going to go.
  23. But even the writer is getting bored here, so it’s a relief to find the next few numbers to be nothing but short, filler sentences.
  24. More filler.
  25. If I had time, I’d look up some animated gifs.
  26. Like a picture of a TV actress making a face, with the subtitle, “Gurl …” across the bottom.
  27. Or a different TV actress making a different face, like a confused face, and this caption say, “Say what?”
  28. This isn’t so bad. 28 already? 32 and a half doesn’t seem that far out of reach now. Maybe it’s not too late to make it 42 and a half. But that would involve scrolling back up and editing and more typing, no, I guess 32 and a half is fine.
  29. Your phone is really, really hot.
  30. It says something like, “Your phone is overheating. Stop using it for a minute and let it cool down.”
  31. You just got an icepack out of the freezer and, it’s probably not a good idea for thing to be frozen either, so you just kind of alternate, fifteen seconds on ice, fifteen seconds off, fifteen more on ice, and over and over again until that warning goes away.
  32. You could have sworn you read this same exact list sometime a few months ago, but this clearly says that it was written today, so you search Google to see if maybe it wasn’t posted somewhere else a while ago, but you get to Google and they have one of those flash games in place of their home screen, so twenty minutes go by, and you beat it, but you forget what you came there to look up in the first place, and all of the tabs are blurred together, you can’t even find Facebook, so you just open up a new tab and commit to not losing your place this time.

32.5 You finish, you get to the end and you’re like, I did it, I read that whole thing. But where’s that sense of accomplishment you get from reading a newspaper or a book, of having done something? This feels like the mental equivalent of having just scarfed down a twenty-piece McNuggets as a midafternoon snack. And yeah, don’t forget about that that “and a half” punch line that wasn’t really that funny when you read it back in the title. Here it is. 32 and a half signs that you did it, you read the whole thing.

I spend too much time on reddit

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.

the safe

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.

Twenty minute blog post

I’ve got exactly twenty minutes to write up a blog post before I have to go to work. It’s a totally self-imposed deadline, and yeah, I did get up really late today, so I shouldn’t be complaining about time constraints. But I want to get something done, and unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of sitting around and waiting for a good idea to pop in my head.

See, I just wrote that, and it didn’t lead to anything. I finished that last sentence, and then I sat for a second, I looked at the clock, a minute passed by. Twenty minutes on the computer? If I’m not actively typing sentences, those twenty minutes are going to straight up evaporate. I’ll click over to my Internet browser just for a second, just to look at one thing, and the next time I look back, not only will those twenty minutes have disappeared, but the Internet will have stolen more time along with it. Like I’ll be late for work.

And I don’t even know what I do online. There’s nothing going on. There are only like three or four bullshit web sites that I’m clicking back and forth from. One link leads to another link leads to ten minutes gone, fifteen minutes, finally I get a hold of myself, I regain awareness of what I’m doing, of what I was trying to do, I’m looking at some really boring Internet article, I can’t even try to piece together how I got to what I’m doing, totally uninterested.

How are you supposed to get anything done with the Internet? I remember my brief career as a paralegal. It had to have been some cosmic joke, like let’s just get a bunch of young people, set them up with some computers in some nondescript office building somewhere and we won’t really tell them what they’re supposed to be doing. There were like eight of us in the room, and we were all just professional Internet surfers.

And I can do the Internet for a while, but like three, four hours, tops. That’s a lot of Internet, like I’m feeling drained after I’m on the Internet for that long. But back then? When I was getting paid to sit down for eight hours a day? That’s entirely way too much Internet. That’s when you’re surfing the Internet while at the same time actively hating the Internet. You completely exhaust any bits of worthwhile information from all of the top notch web sites, and then you look at the clock and you’ve still got four hours left.

Holy shit. So you wind up on those aggregate sites, just bullshit piled upon bullshit, everything in hyperlink form, all of those lists, thirty-two sure signs that you’re a human being, you click on number one, then you have to click for number two, everything that you read, nothing’s new, it’s all just labeled differently. And those secondary, tertiary web sites, they’ve all got really weird sidebar ads, like why is this web site offering me payday loans, offering me the chance to learn to become a mortician, do I want to meet interesting twenty-somethings from Uzbekistan?

Man, I complain about my job, I complain constantly about waiting tables, but whatever, at least I have to walk around. Take this over there. Do this and do that. Whatever, I’m moving my body. I remember one time as a paralegal I spent like a month mustering up the courage to march down to the attorney’s office and tell her, listen, boss, I’m not doing anything. What am I supposed to be doing? Give me something to do, please.

So she’s on her computer when I walk in, she doesn’t even look up, she’s like, “What is it?” I tell her my concerns but she’s mostly unresponsive. And that’s when I look in a little closer, her glasses, they’re reflecting her computer screen. I swear to Christ, she’s playing Scrabble. She’s sitting there doing exactly the same nonsense that all of us young people are doing down the hall. So what was the difference, besides her law degree? Her own office? She had to sit there for seventy hours a week and us just forty?

Seventy hours of Internet a week, I don’t know if I could take it. I’d have to get into some really niche web sites. Anyway, my twenty minutes are up. I should get up earlier tomorrow.

What your choice of Internet browser says about you, as a person, as an individual

You’re wrong. There’s a huge difference between web browsers. They’re so much more than a bunch of seemingly identical graphically-illustrated rectangles glowing in front of our faces, a means to our digital ends. They’re the lenses through which we explore the online world. And just like your preferred brand of deodorant or regularly purchased fabric softener, your choice of browser says a lot about you, about you as an individual, about what kind of an individual you are, getting stuff done online.

Internet Explorer:

The granddaddy of Internet. Actually, that’s Netscape, right? I don’t know, that was all a little before my time. You know what? I’m going to start with Firefox.


The RC Cola of web browsers. If RC Cola were still around, south of Binghamton anyway. I went on a trip upstate recently and found this gas station with RC Cola. I was so pumped because, I barely even remember seeing this stuff around when I was a little kid. An alternative cola, finally, I’m not going to be choked out by the big two any longer, not on this road trip anyway, not in this gas station. And I’m not going to have to pay six bucks for some organically local hipster cola either. Let me just crack this open and … hmm … I mean, it doesn’t feel flat, like I feel the bubbles on my tongue, so how does it taste flat? Jeez, that was kind of a let down. Yeah, you know, whatever it was only a dollar anyway, and the gas station was huge, so I wound up just going back inside and grabbing a Mountain Dew.

It’s like, you want Firefox to work so badly. The idea of this sweet looking web browser with that sick orange and blue logo. Even the name – Firefox! – it just makes it feel like when you click on the Internet that it’s going to be this adventure, that the possibilities might truly be endless. But then you open a few tabs, and yes, they were the first browser to use tabs, and you load up your email and your Facebook and then you kind of waste ten minutes and fifteen more minutes looking at this and that and then … I don’t know. It’s still the Internet. Only it’s getting really slow the more I open more tabs. And when Google finally loads so I can try to figure out how to fix the problem, it keeps telling me that there’s a new way to surf the web, faster, even better than Firefox. Come on. Just try it out. You don’t have to commit to anything. Just take a peek.


And so you launch Chrome and immediately it wants you to commit. Just click here and we’ll import everything you were trying to do over in Firefox – Firefox! It doesn’t really sound as cool as it did before. Now it just sounds cute. Quaint. – and not only will we have it all loaded and ready to go, but while we’re at it, we’ll also import all of your Firefox settings. Look, we’ll make it look like Firefox. There. And now we’ll make it look even better. And come on, just let us remember your passwords. We’ll put your Gmail right on your desktop. You might as well just let us activate full screen mode; there’s not much going on outside of Chrome anyway. We’ll let you know. We’ll take care of it.

It’s like, man, I really don’t want to like Chrome. I just imagine a future populated by humans, yeah, humans are still around, but we’re all trapped inside of our houses, our G-houses, and roaming the streets outside are a race of giant robots, and they’re just constantly marching down every block, making sure that everybody’s inside, on their computers, on Chrome. And every time they take a step, these robots are so gigantic that when their feet slam into the pavement, it makes a sound, it sounds like “Chrome! Chrome! Chrome!” But everything updates automatically, it never asks me to shut down and restart to install.

But Chrome spoils you. You spend so much time not having any problems with the Internet at home that when you head to work in the morning, you’re already feeling that pit bubbling up from the depths of your stomach. Those work PCs.

Internet Explorer:

OK, well, maybe if I just type Chrome into IE, Google might come up with a solution here. “Warning: You are about to leave an encrypted page. Are you sure you want to leave this encrypted page? Yes or No.” I don’t know. What does that even mean? Shouldn’t it have warned me when I entered the encrypted page? OK, yes. “Warning: If you exit this page, you will lose all unsaved data. Are you sure you want to …” They’re playing hard ball. OK, new window. Google. Chrome.

“Please contact your network administrator. You have insufficient clearance to make any of the necessary requested system changes.” Well, it was worth a try. Maybe I can take the IT guy out for a beer after work and get him to install Chrome for me. Fucking IE.

But I wind up buying the IT guy more than just a beer. Drinks turn into shots. Everything’s getting a little blurry. How the hell did it get to be past midnight? I’ve got to go. I can barely walk straight. But wait, the IT guy, he’s telling me to come closer, lean in, he’s whispering something in my ear. What’s that? Opera?


Seriously, I’ve never met anybody that uses Opera. It’s what I imagine Mellow Yellow to taste like, or Mr. Pibb, or if you’re tired of my soda analogies, what Carl’s Jr. tastes like to a New Yorker, or what White Castle tastes like to somebody from the Midwest. But whereas Firefox sounds cool and Chrome sounds like it gets shit done, Opera? I don’t know. Nobody knows. Maybe it’s ahead of its time. Or maybe it’s already wildly outdated. Or maybe both.

So yeah, just, you know, do what I do, tell everybody you use Firefox, but secretly use Chrome, and when you’re at work, just go take a really long walk and tell you’re boss you were on the phone with a client, because man, that job sounds terrible. Get out now.


I just realized that I forgot to mention anything about Safari. But whatever, I’ve already written like over a thousand words. And what can I say about Safari anyway? It’s a web browser. They’re all web browsers. Aside from some very, very minor differences, it’s all the same. It’s the Internet.

Internet problems

I got up really late this morning. And even after I woke up, I stayed in my bed for hours, just kind of tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling, not able to summon the will to stand up and get going. I reached for my cell phone and killed another hour or two on the mobile Internet. It’s gotten to the point where I can stay on the Internet indefinitely, not doing anything at all. I’ll go through my Facebook news feed, reading the statuses of my Facebook friends, a lot of people I haven’t even spoken to in years, just kind of indirectly keeping tabs on everybody’s lives.

And it’s weird because a lot of people don’t really use Facebook anymore. Or if they use it, they only lurk in the background, they’re not actually posting daily content. So it’s just this weird mix of friends, relatives, people that I went to school with twenty years ago, people that I’ve worked with ten years ago. And so I can always waste ten or fifteen minutes scrolling all the way the down, keep scrolling, keep loading more stories.

Then to Twitter. I’m really bad at Twitter. As in, I’m not really actively involved. I’m following something like seventy people, but I don’t really know how I chose those seventy. I’ll follow people on a whim, usually because Twitter suggests it. When I first started using it, I’d see a funny Twitter joke and I’d be like, “Ha! Follow!” only to realize that maybe that was the one funny thing that this person ever wrote in an otherwise boring list of daily nonsense. Like why am I following Ensign Wesley Crusher from Star Trek? If I ever tweeted out, “I’m drinking an IPA!” that would be a huge waste of everybody’s time. But Wil Wheaton does it and somehow I’m reading about it. I guess Twitter is really just like a backup Facebook, like if I’m very bored and I seriously just want time to disappear I’ll go through the feeds of all of these people that I really don’t have any connections to at all in real life.

And look at that, Reddit has a mobile app too. Whereas Facebook and Twitter are perfect for eliminating time in ten to fifteen minute chunks, Reddit is a great way to make a whole day vanish, as if you never had off in the first place. Let’s just look at stupid pictures and lame jokes, but indefinitely, a never ending sea of blue links to be clicked and mindlessly consumed. I sometimes have to make it a conscious activity just to refrain from even going to the home page, it’s that dangerous.

The worst part is, if and when I ever pry myself away from Reddit, I’ll get all anxious, looking at the clock, seeing how I’ve let the day totally slip away, something I had, time that I’ve lost that I’ll never get back. I’ll jump up, not standing up entirely, but I’ll leap up in bed and think, I’ve got to do something here, I’ve got to get going. But then I’ll look at my phone again. Well, after I check Facebook. I’ve been on Twitter and Reddit for so long that by now there has to be a whole new list of status updates to scroll through. And the process repeats itself.

There’s no escape. It’s not like I can just not have a phone. What am I supposed to do? How do I turn it all off? I can’t. I don’t know what else I’d do. And I can’t even turn to anybody or anything for any guidance. History doesn’t have any advice. We’re in new territory here. The great minds of humanity never had to deal with such bullshit problems like Facebook and Reddit. How can Plato or Socrates or any of the other great philosophers help me out when I can’t even get through a whole sentence without being distracted by the email sound going off on my iPhone? And look at that, it’s junk mail! What a surprise!

There’s no going back. We can’t turn off progress. But there’s got to be a better way.