Watching People Watching People: Notes On Reading The Internet
PHASE 2: Politics
After I’ve satisfied my sports craving (or over-indulged it) I’ll go to nytimes.com, officially beginning Phase Two of my morning internetting. Newyorktimes.com isn’t my favorite news source and I’ve been annoyed and put off by the Times’ often sanctimonious self-importance for a while now (I was even secretly a little excited when the old gray lady started to bleed cash from the rise of online journalism) but it still seems like an obvious go-to website.
From there I go to thedailybeast, which is really trashy. It makes me think slightly less of myself. This is Tina Brown’s website. Remember her? For instance, thedailybeast has a lot of stories about Amanda Knox. They’re really into trying to be a sexy political-culture-arts website. Sexy being the operative word. But I don’t know who finds this stuff sexy. What am I looking for when I go there? I know I won’t find hard news or hard entertainment or any kind of hardness at all. Maybe the fellows down at the government monitoring office can help me understand why the dailybeast exists. In fact, they’re probably watching you reading this column right now.
Let’s ask them:
What’s the deal with thedailybeast? Is that you guys? Does the site emit a sexually pleasing, extremely addictive high-pitched frequency causing me to return day after day? No? That’s not you? Is that my radiator?
Next: Politico.com. A real political website. They emerged as the source of political information online during the Obama-McCain election. But for the most part I don’t get too into the politico articles. I mean, I’ve already lost a good chunk of my day to thinking about the NBA (a full part-time job). I probably shouldn’t try to become an amateur political operative as well. In any case, I try to limit my political junkyism for the national elections. (But for the record, I’ve been following the rise of the Tea Party and I find it all super interesting. The Tea Party is the GOP. A couple years ago the GOP talked itself into a logic corner, couldn’t get out, then, having no other alternative, broke into two – kind of like a split-personality – as a way to cope. The Tea Party is the whacky alter-ego who – even though its funded, for the most part, by GOP establishment money – thinks it can actually overthrow the establishment. But it could backfire. Very interesting. I’m thinking the GOP-Tea Party split should start to wind down after Obama handily wins re-election in ’12. Just a thought.)
After politico, I go to Huffington Post. But this is a recent development and I’m not sold on huffpost. It’s too much like the other political-culture websites or they’re too much like it. Either way, by this point in my morning internetting I’m starting to feel weird about myself, like I should probably start working, acting like a real person with a real analogue existence, etc.
All the while, of course, I’ve left my gmail window up and active, where I can just see the very top tab of the screen where it says: Gmail – Inbox (9). And my eyes are constantly, desperately shooting back to that parenthetic number, hoping, waiting, praying for it to change, as if, the instant that my 9 turns into a 10, that will be my irrefutable sign that someone loves me, someone needs me, that I’m good and worthwhile and valuable – all because that little (9) turns into (10). But when the number finally does turn (and it always does) I finish whatever sentence I happen to be reading – thinking to myself: See, I have self-control – then quickly click back over to my gmail page. More often than not, my new message is from Orbitz or Kayak or Wells Fargo. And of course this is a giant let down, a big fat arrow in the gut of my self-esteem. Imagine thousands of arrows sailing through the air in the course of a day. To compensate, maybe I’ll swing over to facebook (my least favorite website – the rock cocaine du jour) to see what some girl I went to high school with did over the weekend with her husband and two children, pictures and all, officially inaugurating Phase Three of my internet tendencies, which is really the I Don’t Know What I’m Doing With Myself Today And I Might As Well Be Drinking Whiskey Because My Life Has Become Officially Risky Phase.
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