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It’s hard to write about the internet and not reference Mark Zuckerberg or BuzzFeed, Kanye West’s Twitter, The Dancing Baby, YTMND, Gawker, The Social Network, Jack Dorsey’s beard, “She doesn’t have the range,” the tiny room at Instagram HQ where everyone ’grams themselves, Crying Jordan, the shruggie, I Can Haz Cheezburger and Lolcats, AOL Buddy Lists, Periscope, WebMD, net neutrality, or Y2K.
Because everywhere you look, the internet is a wondrous cornucopia of the least charitable opinions of all the worst people you’ve never encountered. Every link you click will throw you further down the well, and every favorite or poke or like or heart will artificially spike your heart rate, only to have it crash when you accidentally type your own name in the search box. For every projected emotion and live viewing experience, there will be be a tweet you can find in the Library of Congress that will make you smile, but not chuckle. Consider that the internet is a terrible topic for artists and novelists because it enables even lunatics to feel like they’re onto something. Forget fame and fortune—you only have to gain over ten thousand followers to experience the meaninglessness of your own life. Look down at all the bots and trolls and feel your perspective drain away from you as your body grows slack and your mind goes blank.
The internet is a sclerotic, tumorous entity, a mass of ever-expanding cells whose rapid conversion into ads so targeted they show you ads for things you tweeted about yesterday you just can’t escape. Every generation that logs on to the internet goes through three stages: lost, angry, dismayed. Most people who come to the internet to forge a career in writing—be they fresh NYU grads or your dad’s retired friend with a blog about career advice—come to the internet thinking they have something unique to say. But in the first few posts, you realize, you’re exhausted by all the self-promotion, and there is no time to sit around and fiddle with your SquareSpace page. Most of your time will be spent sending invoices you receive checks for three months later. And so, though you might still recall the days when you had proper Vitamin D levels from regular sun exposure, you will have become An Internet Person, the second one of your tweets goes viral. Here are all the ways things will change for you after that:
You Will Come To Terms With The Fact That You Do Not Look Anything Like Your Profile Picture
You Will Feel Alone
Because you are.
Taye Diggs Will Follow You On Twitter
Join the club.
You Will Stop Watching The News Just To See What It’s Like Not To Know
It’s admittedly kind of fun.
You Will Give In And Delete Your Tweets
What were you saving them for?
You Will Develop An Offline Employment Fantasy
Don’t you think you could be good at running a diner? I do.
You Will Give In And Click
Sorry but you will.