What the Internet Taught Me
This week, I will have been active on the Internet for 15 years. In March 1995, a friend allowed me to create an AOL alias on her account. (I couldn’t afford an account of my own, much less a computer). A year after that I was hired to work on a website full-time, despite not having a full understanding of what the web really was.
I’d love to tell you that these 15 years on I’ve come to an understanding of the Internet, but the sad truth that is I’m nowhere close to one. My HTML and Photoshop skills are rudimentary, at best. I can’t shake the feeling that every single piece of content I’ve put on the Internet could be wiped away without a trace if some accidentally spills a Red Bull on a server somewhere. And a solidly delivered anonymous criticism can still bum me out, even though I’ve received thousands upon thousands over the years. Still, I’ve learned a few useful things about the net since 1995. Just a few.
The first casualty of the Internet Age is not privacy, though it’s a close second place. No, the first casualty of the Internet Age is penmanship.
If a Mac versus PC discussion springs up amongst your friends, don’t get involved. It’s worse than jumping into a boy-and-girl fight. If it’s a Mac girl fighting a PC boy or vice-versa, plug your ears and run like hell.
Among other things (procuring smut anonymously, shopping for socks), the web has perfected funny. There is no mood so dour that it can’t be lightened a bit by a peek at The Onion, XKCD or Wondermark. Even the venerable Homestar Runner can get a modest laugh out of me every so often.
It’s better for everyone that the following web institutions died quiet, ignominious deaths: Auto-playing MIDI files, the little “Under Construction” guy digging his eternal ditch, web-based greeting cards, Comic Sans, and “all your base are belong to us.”
The people who write anonymous, hateful comments and emails on posts and articles are called “trolls.” And without fail, they are five to ten years older than their comments would lead you to believe.
More than half the profile pictures on the web utilize the Kubrick Glare.
I have no difficult in writing the net-born word “w00t,” but I feel kinda funny when I say it out loud.
There is no way to filter all the pornography out of your teenager’s web habits, unless you up and move the whole family to China or Dubai.
The phrase “I’m Internet famous!” has no legal significance.
To my mind, at least half of the accepted search engine optimization techniques were called “spamming” five years ago — before someone figured out that there was big bucks to be made on the consulting circuit by getting people to overcome their polite aversion to leaving off-topic comments.
The net isn’t like television: It can subtract ten pounds just as easily as it can add them.
No one who uses the acronym “ROTFLMAO” has ever really rolled on the floor and laughed his or her ass off. Think about it: You’d have to stand up, lie down, laugh your ass off, and then return to the conversation … by which time the moment has passed.
I haven’t seen “Two Girls One Cup,” yet I’ve laughed at web parodies of it. Knowing the context is more than enough. I feel the same way about Chatroulette: I’ll probably never log in to the service, but I enjoy watching videos of people who have.
The cultural influence of net-based pundits is greater than those in newspapers or on television, but they still run still a distant second to those on AM talk radio.
I never, ever tired of being Rickrolled. The song’s just so darned catchy.
The popular perception of trolls being “nerds living in their mom’s basement” is an incorrect one for these reasons. (1) There aren’t enough outlets in the basement to run all the servers, and there’s no 4G signal down there. What you mean to say is this: “Trolls are nerds living in a two-bedroom apartment (with one of those bedrooms dedicated to the servers, upon which mom pays water, gas and electric, but not cellular or cable.” (2) “Dude, I’m too busy with my Guild to even read your Monkey site or whatever.”
The evolution of the modern blogger: From LiveJournal or Blogger to TypePad; from TypePad to WordPress; from WordPress to Twitter.