There are many days when I long for the simplicity of the pre-Internet era, back when people could sit through dinner without flipping through Instagram, when students had to use the Dewey Decimal System and card catalogs for research at the library, when a child’s only access to hardcore nudity was through the grainy black rainbow of scrambled cable. Life in those days was much like a menu at In-N-Out – limited, straightforward, delicious in its utter basic-ness. But life now feels like I’m sitting at a sticky table of a Hometown Buffet, cramming one more roast beef sandwich into my mouth and chasing it with a 42-ounce strawberry milkshake just because it’s there and I can.
The problem with building something as seemingly limitless as the Internet is that everyone wants to fill it to a brim that does not even exist. There is a compulsive collective need on behalf of advertisers, corporations and individuals to churn out content simply for content’s sake. Do I really need a groovy interactive commercial in between my online stream of The Daily Show? Was “Probably the Funniest Cat Video You Will Ever See” really the funniest cat video I have ever seen? Do I even care about cat videos? Would my life have been any different if I didn’t just watch that “Fat kid dance” video? Or whatever the hell this is?
One of the more irritating Internet portals I’ve accidentally stumbled into are online entertainment news channels, which take the old format of TV shows like Entertainment Tonight and give it a good dose of Adderall, cutting what used to resemble crappy (yet focused journalism) from 30 well-organized minutes into a 2-minute epileptic fit, complete with vomit-inducing cutaways, pulsating graphics, and EDM of the Dubstep variety. Oh, and don’t forget the absolutely scintillating subject matter:
Close Look at George Clooney’s New Girlfriend!
Talia Storm wants to work with John Legend and Jennifer Hudson!
There are some topics in which accompanying videos are helpful – say, Marx’s Theory of Historical Materialism (Thanks, Yale!) – and our access to such things via the Internet is truly a blessing. Celebrity gossip, however, is not one of them. Stick all that nonsense into an issue of US Weekly and call it a day. Glorifying this type of non-news news with a YouTube channel does a disservice to everyone, especially their brains.
When it comes to information in these trying, over-saturated, incredibly stupid times, less is more than enough. All these people are clogging up my beloved Information Superhighway with their superfluous garbage, making surfing the web feel more like driving across Los Angeles on the 405 during rush hour.