Watching People Watching People: Notes On Reading The Internet

PHASE 1:  Basketball

Without signing out of Gmail, I immediately go to Oregonlive.com/blazers. This is the online version of the Portland Trailblazer section of my hometown paper. I quickly check to see if there are any good new Blazer articles, links, news items, etc. It’s not my favorite website but it’s become my go-to first non-gmail website. Why? I don’t know. It just kind of seems to make sense. I’m from Portland. It’s the local paper. The Blazers are my team. Actually, they’re much more than my team. They very well might be my absolute point of internet fixation i.e. my information fetish, my digital thumbsuck. (I know I’m not alone in this but I have no idea why. Maybe the government knows. Maybe the government is developing a government program for somehow sneakily taking advantage of a young(ish) male population consumed with constantly monitoring their local basketball team. Maybe there’s an office at the CIA with a sign on the door that says: National Basketball Association Internet Psychological Infiltration Unit. Known as NBAIPIU (pronounced Na-Ba-Pu). And they produce papers on the Immediate and Long-Term Negation of the Native Male Population and How to Politically Disenfranchise and Sexually Undermine College Graduate Males Ages 18-35 Who Maintain Relatively Healthy Relationships With Their Parents But Who Have Yet to Really Build a Real Life For Themselves.)

Next I go to espn.com. But this time, unlike with gmail, I don’t open a new window. I just type in a new address, get rid of the oregonian. Once at espn, I go straight to the NBA page, then on to the Sports Guy’s page. The Sports Guy, if you don’t know, is Bill Simmons, a funny, obnoxious Bostonian comedy writer-turned-next-generation-sportswriter living in L.A. He’s got his columns, his podcasts, his reader mailbag. This can be a real time suck to start the day. If there’s a new podcast with an interesting guest, that’s an hour right there. One twenty-fourth of your day. Gone. But what’s nice about a podcast is that you can listen to it while looking at other websites or while sending emails or while checking to see if anyone’s sent you an email. Or it’s just something nice to listen to while the government and/or Google is tracking you down. Either way, it’s an hour you’ll never see again.

Next, we’re on to hoopsworld. Are you sensing a theme? This is a slightly more hardcore experience. Espn is the decaf sanka to hoopsworld’s crystel meth. Hoopsworld is for people who, after reading both their local paper’s website and espn.com, still feel the burn for more information about their team, their team’s GM, whether or not their team’s GM may or may not be considering moving a third year back-up point guard (who’s really just a shooting guard) for a first round pick and a trade exception. The best part about hoopsworld are the chat rooms with NBA “experts” who field questions about various teams behind-the-scenes movement, on-court chemistry, likelihood for success, etc. (Obviously, these are Psy Ops CIA agents and/or corporate marketing V.P.s bent on either ideological purification or the discovery of a new micro-demographic. Or both.)

Next I google: bill simmons twitter. Because an hour-long podcast and various ten thousand word columns aren’t enough. I need to read this man’s tweets as well. But I like Twitter. I’ll take Twitter over Facebook anyday. I like to think about how Bill Simmons gets paid to tweet. And then I like to think about how various celebrities and politicians employ twitter writers to script their tweets. This is priceless. Also, it’s a sign of the end of the world. Or of our liberal democracy. (Author’s Note: One of my 19 year-old blog writer interns just wrote that.) Also, I’m kind of convinced that Bill Simmons is not a real person but an algorithm designed by Noam Chomsky at MIT to make middle and upper-middle class, left-leaning white males less economically productive, even though this makes no sense.

Then depending on how I feel – if I’m up for more – I’ll go to sportsillustrated.com to read different takes on the same NBA related stories I’ve already, at that point, read at least five different times. If it’s really an exciting news day in basketball I’ll go to truehoops (yet another NBA blog) and read still yet more opinion and commentary about such-and-such a trade, injuries, gossip, who said what to a reporter post pre-season game. Make no mistake. I understand that the online NBA coverage is over-the-top and 96% gratuitous but I’m drawn to it anyway. The stuff I read online used to be insider information five, ten years ago. The same thing goes for political coverage on the internet. Now we can all be armchair GM’s or political guru’s. But it’s more than that, of course. Information is just a red herring. It’s a narcissistic psychological disorder triggered by the one-way mirror of the internet – gazing at yourself in the information that you desperately crave but absolutely don’t need. How do you look? What do you see?

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  • http://twitter.com/_justvibing @_justvibing

    damn

    pretty long but insightful nonetheless

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=555371269 Bill A Pomerans

    Don’t you want to know what other people are doing on the internet? What sites do they go to? In what order? How long they spend on each one?

    no

  • http://twitter.com/rislynsey christopher lynsey

    Great.

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