Mrs. ETE (that's Mrs. English Teacher Extraordinaire, for you slow ones) and I were drinking some wine and watching Silverado a few nights ago. It's a nifty resurrection of the Western by Lawrence Kasdan and company, starring a whole bunch of people you'd know if you saw the movie. It's a lot of fun, so by all means see it if you haven't. Regardless, as we're watching Scott Glenn ride across the rugged beauty of the American southwest, Mrs. ETE turns to me and says "What did horses do before horseshoes? I guess they just...had no shoes." You see, after a couple of glasses of wine, the wife is really fun for about 10 minutes. The 10 minutes before her narcoleptic tendencies kick in and she lapses into catatonia.
And what did we do before certain pieces of technology infiltrated every aspect of our lives and became ubiquitous? I'm thinking about the Internet in particular. The Internet used to be so damn useful. Back in the Halcyon Days of the mid-nineties, the Internet was a lean, mean Information Super-Highway, full of useful sites! It was like a trip to the mall with a man: get in, get what you came for, get out.
Then, it all began to change. Slowly. Inexorably. Akin to the Eighth Plague of Egypt--the "Web 2.0" revolution began. Note my use of one-word sentences to create tension and foreboding. Ya like that? Would you like to see more literary technique in future posts? Discuss.
What's that, you say? Web 2.0? What new devilry is this? The Internet seems the same to me! Yeah, I hear ya. When this nonsense began, I had to look up the term. Web 2.0? Huh? There's been no major technology change on the 'net. One of my uber-nerd friends would have told me! It refers to a change in the way people use the 'net, not the Internet itself. You might be saying to yourself: "Self, that just sounds like a piece of jargon to me, this Web 2.0 tomfoolery." And you'd be right. It is a piece of jargon. We can't just say "People are using the Internet differently these days." Oh no. Now we have to coin a snarky phrase so we can create confusion and seem all "with it" and hip when we toss it around in conversation. "My Web 2.0 application is really streamlining the way the blind virgins of Nauru get their phosphate paintings into the hands of collectors. It's really a boon to the art world." Pffft.
So, c'mon ETE, what's your beef with Web 2.0? Can't you see the glaring irony that you're using it to rant about it?
It's not all bad. There are some really, really useful collaborative sites out there. Like eBay. And Craigslist. But now the Internet's like a trip to the mall with a woman: get in, forget what the hell you were there for in the first place while you wander aimlessly and buy shit you don't need. So let's talk about our favorite time-wasters on the Internet...
1. Let's get it out of the way, the Grand Poo-Bah of Uselessness: YouTube. You know I'm right so cut it out with those raised eyebrows and jutting chin. Look at the tagline: "Broadcast Yourself". Sure, sounds nifty in theory. The problem becomes evident in practice, however: the vast majority of "Yourselves" are brain-dead twits who think that the world is interested in seeing yet another toothless dolt lip-sync the latest hip-hop song into a web cam. Nay, nay, NAY! Not that everything on YouTube sucks, but for every Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager there's 642,985 teenage girls mindlessly hip-hop "dancing" to the strains of the latest schlock that's rotting the brains of our Nation's Youth. How many times have you hopped onto YouTube and become lost for hours, only to suddenly come to your senses and navigate away, feeling the same type of dirty, profane shame you did the first time your dad caught you dropping stomach pancakes.
That last comment was directed specifically at my male readership. I have no idea what happens if a dad catches his daughter auditioning the finger puppets. It's gotta be really awkward. For him. Or do only mom's catch daughters jilling off? Anyone care to comment on that?
In closing: Hey YouTube, screw you for wasting hours of my life.
2. Social Networking Sites. MySpace, facebook--I'm talking to you. But, ETE, you have a facebook account! Well, I only joined to see the fan club a student made for me. Which is damn funny. I even stole my pseudonym from it. Thanks kid-I-won't-name-because-I-don't-write-names-on-the-Internet! Don't even pretend you don't read this. You Internet-Stalk like you're trying to earn an Eagle Scout medal for it. I digress, let me be a bit more specific; I don't think social networking sites are totally useless, even though there are a myriad of other ways to accomplish everything they have to offer. It's more those accursed facebook "applications". You log on to check how your pal Johnny College-Friend is doing and then you're trapped for hours "Using your Hero Ability on 'Friends with Abilities'", trying to think of creative ways to generate Wrestler Bucks and joining Groups that serves no other useful purpose beside giving you a chuckle (or maybe even a guffaw!) the first time you see the title.
In closing: Hey facebook, screw you for wasting hours of my life.
3. Tracking Shipments Online. This isn't useless, just profoundly frustrating. You get an email, click on the link...and then get angry that FedEx doesn't drive faster. I bought a new rig (that's a new PC for you slow ones) a while ago and have been waiting for it to arrive. It's not a bleeding-edge system that will make me the envy of the tiny-penis, deep-pocket "Check out my new Skulltrail rig with two QX9775s at 3.2, 9800GX2s running in SLi, 16GB of DDR2 and 4 WD Raptors running in Raid 0+1!" crowd, but it's a rock-solid mid- to high-end rig.
Wow. I think that was the nerdiest sentence I have ever written. Ever. You can check your nerdiness with this simple test: if you know what 3 out of those 6 things are without using Google then you, my friend, are a nerd. Embrace it. I have.
Back to tracking. I find myself clicking my tracking link incessantly. I can't stop. Do I really think that FedEx ground will have gone from City of Industry, CA to Buffalo, NY in the seven minutes since I last clicked? Really, ETE? Did you forget about those pesky laws of physics? I know they're really fucking up your week off, but...
Jesus. I really have WAY too much free time. I gotta go do something productive.
PS: Hey, those of you who pester me to update--my posts are LONG. Doesn't that get me some latitude when it comes to frequency of update? A little? Please?