On mild Internet addiction

sparkling flashes! huge excitement! rushing cables! neon lights! dazzling screens! blue glow! futuristic highway! SUPERFAST BROADBAND

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Since I’ve hooked the superfast broadband directly to my house I no longer needed to wait for YouTube videos to buffer, and so have since squandered my leisure time on frivolity and nonsense (and reading all that civilised political discourse out there).

When I lived in South Africa the agony of waiting for online multimedia content to load over the crippled Internet infrastructure of the time was so unbearable that I actually spent my time writing and posting things on this blog. I mean, I was still using a dial-up modem in 2006! The screechy tweeting staccato of a 56k modem. Urgh.

Now there is an endless buffet of digital content served up into my face from all kinds of phosphorescent glass panels. And it really is endless. YouTube has autoplay, so if your chosen video clip ends, another one loads up and spews into your consciousness. Twitter is a constantly refreshing stream of vitriol. 140 characters is the perfect length for an insult, but not enough space for a considered discussion. Just swipe swipe swipe and more ping-ponging vitriol appears. It never runs out. Even mainstream news websites have infinity as a feature. You finish reading an article, and the site recommends 5 more you might like. Not necessarily vitriol, at least not until you get down to the comments section. There’s some manufactured outrage. I wonder why they are so pissed off? Click and click again.

This is the advantage of real physical newspapers and magazines. They end. Once you’ve read the articles you were interested in, and skimmed the ones you weren’t, it’s over. New pages with suggestions don’t grow out of the spine of the magazine like some sort of regenerating mutant. A cascade of written notes, filled with badly spelled anger, don’t scatter in your lap like so many advertising pamphlets. The activity of reading the magazine simply ceases. You could read it all again in the hope of eking out some new ounce of information, but really you are forced to go and do something else.

I’m going to go do something else now. How about Netflix?

(Image credit: Obsolete Screenshot #05 by orihaus via Flickr (cc-by-2.0))

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