The internet is profoundly useless. Everyone knows this. I still remember the first time I used the internet, and my reaction to the internet at the time was, “I hate this and this is useless.” This was in 1995. Bored one night in college, we decided to go to the basement of our dormitory, which was the computer room, which had also recently become “The Internet Room.” We were bored and restless college students. It was a Sunday night. There was no booze around. “Hey, let’s use ‘the internet,” someone (possibly me) said to my friends Mike and Sue. This seemed like an exciting idea. None of us had ever seen the internet before.
So we went downstairs. There were rows of grayish computers. There were a few pale, unhealthy-looking souls clustered in the internet room, looking green-skinned and ill in the flourescent lighting. We logged on to the “internet.” This involved a dial-up modem. There was much buzzing and whirring and clicking and long stretched out sounds as the dial-up modem began the lengthy process of connecting us to the “internet.”
Then, there we were. We were on the internet!
“What do we do?” I said to my friend Mike.
“Well… search for something, I guess.”
“How do we do that?”
“Do we use… what’s that thing called?”
“Right. …Alta Vista.”
So we used Alta Vista. We didn’t know what to search for. We found some tribute sites for various bands. These were very boring and very slow-loading and played repetitive song clips that required us to turn our speakers off.
Then, we found a “chat room.”
The chat room was designed like a “virtual bar.” People were chatting and buying each other “virtual drinks.” You could talk to someone who might or might not be a woman in real life and buy him/her a virtual gin and tonic. Or a virtual beer. This seemed absurd, and once we were logged into the chat room, we said so.
“WHY ARE U GUYS BUYING EACH OTHER VIRTUAL DRINKS?” we said. “WHY DON’T YOU JUST LEAVE THE COMPUTER AND GO TO A REAL BAR.”
“SCREW OFF,” someone typed back.
“SCREW YOU,” we typed. “LOSER. HERE’S A STUPID VIRTUAL BEER. ENJOY, LOSER.”
We were then “flamed” and locked out of the chat room. …At this point, we turned off the computer and went back to our dorm room. “The internet is terrible,” we said. “This will never catch on.”
And you know what happened next… it never did catch on, and remained a minor niche activity — like, say, curling, or Ham Radio. Wait. That isn’t what happened at all.
…But still, I was so traumatized by the sucky experience of using the internet for the first time that I didn’t use it again for four years, when I briefly used to it search for sites about an obscure Japanese cartoon that I had once loved.
Now, I use it all the time. I’m a freelance writer. Being on the internet is my job. I wish it wasn’t and that I could write without the internet. I have a typewriter, which I love, which stares at me balefully from the corner of my room. But if I type something on my typewriter, then I’ll… just have to retype it on my computer, on the internet, so that I can get it published.
It is all very sad. I waste hundreds of hours looking at cat videos on the internet. I no longer take walks, go to libraries, or stare at falling leaves… because there are cat videos to be watched… on the internet. Sad.
There are, of course, some likable aspects to the internet. I like cats, and thus I like watching videos with cats. I like being able to “IM’ with random friends in, say, Dubai or Romania. I like getting paid, via writing on the internet.
And I admire the sheer crazy random uselessness of it all, of the World Wide Web. And just this past week, I found a site that celebrates this uselessness, the mindless addiction of it all, and since I have wasted so much time on the site, I must share it with you now. The site is called “The Useless Web,” and it is pretty much my favorite website now. “The Useless Web” provides you with a button, saying “Please take me to a useless website.” You click on the button — and poof! — you are then somewhere useless. I love it so much.
So here, via The Useless Web, are some sites that I have visited in the past few days, when I was supposed to be doing work. Just as advertised, they are magically and perfectly useless:
- “Cat bounce” — (No major explanation needed here. They’re cats. They bounce.)
- “Heeeeey!” — (Hey. …Hoooo!)
- “Ducks are the best” — (Possibly Brad Pike’s new favorite website.)
- “Heyeyeayayeayaa” — (Wonderful and amazing.)
- “White trash” — (I don’t know.)
- “Falling falling” — (Sort of Zen-ish… in a way.)
- “Chicken on a raft” — ( … )
- “Koalas to the Max” — (Abstract.)
- “Bury me with my money” — (Absolutely fucking mystifying.)
- “Sometimes red, sometimes blue” — (The title of this one is extremely descriptive.)
- “Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the world yet?” — (This is the only one of these sites that I had seen before, and is reminiscent of another site that I enjoy, which is “Elf needs food.”)
- “OMFG Dogs!” — (My personal favorite. When I saw this site, half of my brain went “AAAAH!” and the other half went, “This is the greatest thing ever.”
- “Republique des Mangues” — (This one is boring, but intriguing. As best as I can tell, it was made by… a French guy who enjoys mangos?)
- “Walma” — ( … )
- “Everyday I’m” — (…Indeed.)
See? You checked out all of those, didn’t you? Or nearly all. And we all just wasted time together, in a great/awful way. Although I sort of got paid for wasting time by writing this, but I wasted a lot more time than it took you to read this, so it balances. …But this is all also time that we could have spent looking at falling leaves. It is autumn, after all.* It’s breezy and autumnal outside. …So let’s turn off our computers and go outside, and look at some fucking falling leaves. And then later on, if need be, we can come back inside, and stare at yet more useless shit on the internet.