Whether or not you suffer from actual Internet addiction, it’s easy to fall into a never-ending Internet media k-hole. There’s just so much to read! You could spend all day, every day clicking links and never even come close to reading all the things. It’s frustrating, can result in time travel — but only to the future — and the side effects are basically life-ruining. Here are some of the more common Internet k-holes you might naively saunter into. Beware! It’s like the Hotel California, you can click out anytime you like, but you can never leave.
The Feminist Media K-hole
There are so many sites for women or I guess, by default “feminist” sites, it’s easy to fall into a feminist media k-hole — especially one that starts off innocently enough. Maybe you’re on Hellogiggles reading about, I don’t know, the benefits of girls with glasses or five ways to make a ukelele out of your mom’s vintage blazers and then suddenly you’re linked to something on The Hairpin, which still seems pretty innocuous and appropriately quirky, but you know, in a way that’s accessible. Then, they’ve linked to a post at Jezebel, which leads you to seeing something in the sidebar about a town full of rapes and then you’re reading all about how Republicans want to stick their hands in our vaginas and root around in our uteri like Gold Rush-era ol’ prospectors and then you’re angry and worried and up in arms and clicking back and forth between Jez and Feministing and something crazy and wild the beauty editor at xoJane said and oh my god, can you even believe her? Pretty soon you’re on more intellectual feminist sites like Shakesville and then you’re off the rails on some Livejournal where someone says all heterosexual sex is “technically rape” in an analysis of the Joss Whedon show Firefly and now you’re sad about the entire world forever.
Oof. There is a healthy way to consume feminist media (and media for women, which I don’t think are necessarily the same thing! Most of both are really wonderful and enlightening and smart!). But some of these sites just feed off of your fear and anger to gain hits and money — sort of like The Dark Side in Star Wars, except with more hair accessories modeled after Beyonce songs.
Tumblr Shame Spiral
TSS — Tumblr Shame Spiral (not Toxic Shock Syndrome) — is the one Internet k-hole I’m most susceptible to. If I were Rivers Cuomo, Tumblr would be my frail Japanese cellist. I am obsessed. But I made the mistake, in the beginning when I first signed up for the site, of following back everyone who followed me — rather than just following blogs that posted about my interests. So now, my dashboard is a diverse splattering of sh-t I might not necessarily care about.
It starts off innocently enough. Maybe I’ll see a photo of a hot guy and wonder what show he’s from or someone will post a funny quote and I’ll be curious about who said it. So I click through. Once I find out, I think it wouldn’t hurt to type their name into the search sidebar and see what else I can find out about them.
In a flash, it’s six hours later and I know the words to all of One Direction’s songs and I hate Finchel and I think bowties are cool and I want Sherlock to shag the bejesus out of John Watson. I look out my window at the people having fun on the city streets and I pity them.
Youtube, while definitely full of delightfully simple cat videos, is also its own alternate universe Hollywood with different popular “TV shows” and different A-list celebrities. It’s brilliantly creative and a great place to see funny people be funny without the boring conventions of prime-time television. But the problem starts because Youtube celebrities seem to all be friends with each other.
Watching just one Youtuber’s channel will never suffice when they have cameos by other entertaining vloggers. Pretty soon, you’re skipping from Shane Dawson’s five thousand channels over to my personal favorite (and fellow PIT house team member) Grace Helbig over to My Drunk Kitchen over to Jenna Marbles over to Kassem G over to …I guess, Ray William Johnson. Next thing you know you’ve been watching videos for an entire day and you can’t stop singing “Commenting on your comments” and talking about wolves.
You will never watch “real” TV again.
Hate reading is a glorious phenomenon wherein I keep reading something just because it makes me angry. It’s sort of why I still watch Glee. If you’re a liberal, head on over to Foxnews.com or if you’re a feminist, why not try the Men’s Rights section of Reddit?
Reading something because you hate it can really get your blood pumping and your mind going. It can help you formulate your opinions about why you really feel the opposite way. That being said, it’s easy to get lost in a hate-reading k-hole because the world is a big place and there is always going to be a never-ending supply of people who disagree with your worldview. Don’t let it get you too worked up.
Sports & Celebrity Gossip
I always find it funny when sports fans say they “hate celebrity gossip” because generally athletes are their own versions of the Kardashians. “It’s like, I don’t care about which Real Housewife got a nosejob or whether Kristen Stewart is dating Robert Pattinson. These people are richer than I am and have nothing to do with my real life — wait, oh my god, Albert Pujols got traded where?!”
Don’t pretend you’re above obsessing over minutia, sports fans. You’ve got your own “celebrities” and “gossip” even if none of it appears on Oh No They Didn’t or Perez Hilton. Internet analysis of sports and athletes and sports media is just as deep a k-hole. You can fall in faster than Usain Bolt can run 200 meters. For instance, start at ESPN.com then follow a link over to a story about the NBA playoffs breaking down that story on Deadspin with some more-or-less reporting using a quote by Paul Pierce’s cousin’s girlfriend’s dog groomer and then follow it up by reading Chuck Klosterman or Malcolm Gladwell’s opinion on which member of the Sex Pistols represents which of the final four teams at Grantland.
Wikipedia might have been built specifically to cause Internet k-holes. There’s so much internal linking it’s like an orgy of sort of accurate (?) information. It starts off with you checking a fact for a paper or article you’re working on. Maybe you want to know who starred as the older sister on Family Ties or you can’t remember when the Denver Airport installed that scary demon horse sculpture out front. Next thing you know you’ve clicked through to a list of all bi-polar celebrities or explorers from the 1600s who wore hats. You start out reading a synopsis of one episode of Fresh Prince and then you’re reading about the whole series and then about what a Foley artist does and then how Natalie Wood drowned and then the correct term for a type of synesthesia where you see colors as numbers and then the story behind Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time” and then about the importance of squirrels in Norse mythology.
You’ll know so much useless sh-t you’ll either end up on Jeopardy or never be able to have a normal human social interaction ever again.
The Internet is full of gross things for you to look at and be horrified by. Want autopsy photos of celebrities? Or pictures of people with debilitating skin diseases? Or creepy .gifs where a monster pops out of the right hand corner and causes you to scream so loud your roommate’s cat basically throws itself out the window? There’s no end.
Start at 4chan until you hit some kiddie porn and then hop over to SomethingAwful and CreepyPasta. Wonder if maybe a serial-killing clown is actually hiding behind your shower curtain. Be concerned that the ant bite on your leg will swell to the size of a soccer ball. Worry that you’ll die in a freak accident wherein each of your limbs is pulled from your body slowly by the hands of a large clock tower’s face. Think about larvae boob.
Don’t sleep for weeks.
Conspiracy Theories And Serial Killers
Similarly, these two are special kinds of k-holes that happen when you’re in a real dark crystal of a place. Are you home alone on a Friday night, feeling down and hating the world? Try reading about how 9/11 was an inside job or how we never landed on the moon or how Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain. Decide to make your own tinfoil hat. Put duct tape over your computer’s webcam because the government is watching. Get real into it.
Or cuddle up with some John Wayne Gacy, Aileen Wuornos and Ed Gein. Did you know they never caught the Zodiac killer? Did you know Richard Ramirez ate a dead pregnant woman’s fetus? Are you tempted to write a letter to Charles Manson?
Think twice. Morning will come, little ghoul. You’re gonna regret this knowledge.
Porn and NC-17 Fanfiction