Somewhere during 1998 I acquired a new computer for the business and it had the fateful little AOL banner hanging there, a satanic apple that dared and teased until I finally gave in with a muttered “Oh what the hell” and went ahead and loaded it up. Just to see what this internet fuss was all about.
It was slow to dawn on me, I guess. I couldn’t believe a tenth of what the newspaper and various magazines and all the ‘real’ media were saying, that this was the biggest thing ever, that it would change everything and everybody. I’d heard similar hype about soccer in the US and various kitchen appliances and corn added to gasoline. Where the hell had any of that gotten us?
I can’t even fathom the changes the net has wrought in the seven years I’ve been tinkering with it, I try to argue with myself that it hasn’t been life changing, that a medium couldn’t just take over like it has. I probably had some limited success with that mindset before I climbed onto some obscure music site one day and saw a banner ad for a diarist with a funny heading and one link led to another and then Unclebob was having me on the floor, laughing. And intrigued.
Because I had figured it out for all my blundering. The net really could be that one common ground. Gee whiz everybody could be on here, writing and slobbering and making a mess, and for some, making beauty.
I’m really slow to impress. But after a couple of years and a DSL update and rapid improvements all over the net the obvious became clear. This thing was going to do more than just change everything as a means to the end. It was the end, if you let it be. It was all that Ray Bradbury and Orwell and all the lads had been grasping for in a thousand short stories - that sorcerer that could corrupt and caress with equal aplomb, that all enveloping cloud that was neither gaseous nor physical but was a melding of a million minds and a billion thoughts.
Writing, for some, has exploded. I consider the work of someone like this, a First Rate Writer in his own right with a newspaper column who has embraced this thing and made it special, has put his love of obscure things about middle America online and chats about his young daughter and his life and it makes for wonderful afternoons of losing oneself in his spell. Did I mention first rate writing? My Lord I wish I could communicate with just a pitiful percentage of this mans gift.
There are bloggers out there making obscene amounts of money doing nothing but writing and commenting on daily events and politics (granted, there’s a ton of them making nothing at all and doing at least as good of a job). One of them is acknowledged to have made better than $200,000 last year just by appealing for ‘operating funds’ in two pledge drives. This guy didn’t even have a website before 9/11. Neither did a lot of them. Can you imagine? The sort of things we’ve seen come to life in the past few years?
Stands to reason that people would find a way to screw this up by the mere showing of their own asses, as happened over the last few days with This Whole Mess. Short story? 13 year old blogger puts up a picture of interest on his site, some indignant adult makes an accusation about propriety and winds up calling the kid a little bastard for getting thousands of hits to his site that he doesn’t, for some reason, deserve.
Some indignant adults need to be taken out behind the world wide woodshed (and if you read the linked articles far enough, this one pretty much was). Anyone who makes an outcry about feeling threatened by the printed word or actions on some random website is little more than a foot stomping child. I have no patience with foot stomping. My kids might have tried it once but there were no repeat performances. The surprise, and it always takes me that way, by surprise, is that there are no end of them to be found out there. No end of silly whining people who have no trouble making an embarrassment of themselves behind the translucent cloak of internet anonymity.
I guess it’s all part of the sideshow. If you have access to every bearded lady and dog faced boy you’re gonna find yourself at that awful point where your sitting there shaking your head and mumbling “This nutcase makes Shemp look like a Rhodes scholar”, or the ever popular “Where do they get these asshats?”
I like to think I’m on here just for the hell of it. I get about as many hits in a week as some of these heavyweights get in 5 seconds online, so it surely ain’t for the exposure. All I want is an outlet for the monkey-like muse that sits on my shoulder at the Watering Hole and sees a funny story come to life, or to report the quiet living and the spring evenings in hammocks and the way olive oil dribbles off my chin when a fine pizza comes my way.
Promise me something, dear reader. Anytime I start verbally beating up on kids for stealing my bandwidth please feel free to settle this in the old way. With a ping pong paddle and a little cursing and swearing. Out there behind the woodshed.
Just don’t tell Ally. I don’t even want to think about what she’d do.
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