The Internet Sucks, Pt. 2 What did people get sucked into before the internet? What did people do with their work days before they could open up fifteen tabs of TV Tropes? What did we do before we went tumbling down the Wikihole?
I was alive back then, and I certainly don't remember what kept me from being productive, but I know it was something. The internet sucks you in, but if it wasn't there, something else would be doing the sucking. The internet isn't what makes us unproductive--it's just one thing that makes our unproductive time worth living.
Patton Oswalt last month wrote a long essay for Wired where he made the claim that the internet has turned out to be bad for geek culture. The ease with which you can learn anything within a couple of clicks on Google or Wikipedia means that anyone can learn to talk geek without doing the work--thus geekdom becomes simultaneously a dominant force in society and a shallow pond compared to its former self. A culture spent scrounging for old bootleg episodes of Monty Python or grubbing through longboxes looking for back issues of Uncanny X-Men is, to Oswalt, stronger because of the effort spent acquiring it. The difficulty of becoming a geek was, in his conception, something that worked like a solitary hazing ritual that cemented you into the brotherhood.
Oswalt's a funny comedian, but he's just being an asshole here. The world is not worse off because more people can understand jokes about Greedo firing first or Battlestar Galactica, so say we all. It takes a privileged sort of asshole--one with lots of disposable income, living in a place where he can buy obscure DVDS or comics or video games beyond the big bestsellers--to begrudge the kids growing up who can finally use the internet to find things they actually enjoy rather than listen to classic rock radio or whatever four songs are currently in rotation on MTV.
I grew up in a place where I never even had the discover the Pixies, or anime, and there was no one around to play D&D with so I played it by my self on the computer. My video store didn't carry episodes of Monty Python, except for the movies. The internet would have given me opportunities beyond my wildest dreams as a lonely teen in Fargo. And fuck Patton Oswalt very much for implying that I don't somehow deserve these things because I didn't, I don't know, drive five hours to Minneapolis to go to the music store or comic shop that would have taught me what I was missing.
Oswalt is basically saying that the 16 year old me didn't deserve to discover the things that I would have an opportunity to discover now, if I were 16, because I was lazy and didn't do the work. Doesn't that seem kind of petulant and shitty?
Growing up is hard enough as it is--what advocate making it even harder?
How does this fit in with the Smackdown theme? Well, growing up geek was what I was doing rather than fucking in cars. I never did that, and now that I live in NYC and am about 32, I probably never will.