The Internet is trying to f*ck us. It connects us to any information we could possibly want. You can learn [or at least get a theoretical understanding of] anything in the entire world. Interested in the history of other fiat currencies? BAM! Need a new trick to have better sex? KAZAAM! Want to learn how to code? DONE! Magic, it’s magic.
There is a dark side for every light side, though. The Force could enable an unstable Anakin as easily as it could, “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”
The Internet allows idiots to make money by lying to bigger idiots about money. The Internet allows people to cluster into groups, convincing themselves of ever more ridiculous theories (theological, political, conspiratorial, sexual and more). The Internet it a powerful tool that transforms you into a superhuman or subhuman, depending on how you use it. The following is an incomplete list of terrible things I do online almost every day — a list of things to avoid:
1. Use it to pique my status anxiety.
I go online and see that I’m being beat on every front. The Internet is full of people who have their sh*t together — or at least pretend to, virtually. Sometimes it’s inspiring and sometimes it’s not.
2. Go past four pages on Reddit.
Nobody needs that. After page three, it’s not fun anymore. It gets a little sad. Reddit images and headlines literally shoot little fixes of hormones into your body that make you feel good. By page four, I’m not experimenting with the drug; I’m addicted to it. I haven’t quite admitted that I have a problem (that comes around page eight) but the returns on joy (not to mention, time) certainly diminish.
3. Sad porn.
Not the kind in which the people are crying. (Is that even a thing?) But the kind that you feel bad after watching. It’s sitting right there. Click. (It’s even mixed in wit Reddit! The horror!) My neuro-obsessed friend told me that porn puts your brain into chaos. It makes you find different things attractive. It makes it harder to have a normal sex-life and injects your brain with hormones that make a mess of things.
4. Check email more than twice a day.
I sit with a Gmail tab open waiting for things to come in. I might as well be screaming, “I don’t have any respect for my own work, so please ask me to do something!” It’s dumb — just closed my email tab and I feel like a free man.
5. Believe unbelievable headlines.
The content rarely matters. Likely, only five percent of the people who clicked on the link to this article are still reading. If that’s you, congratulations, you’re not a complete click-crack-rat. You stuck around for the actual content!
McDonald’s has a scientific formula for how much salt and fat to inject into food so you’ll be addicted. Content creators (and curators) have a similar formula for your brain. We know what makes you click, we know how to make articles so you can skim them and click the next one. It’s sick —stop clicking bullsh*t headlines.
6. Read more than two list articles a day.
The listicle format gets you your quick fix. It allows you to feel like you can jump online and get the information you need in a couple minutes. Maybe all you need is a bolded headline — a reminder to be optimistic, to have a goal, to dream big and to have sex with your lover, or whatever. I love some lists. But nothing good happens after repeating the same list. You fall into content consumption mode and the chance of you taking action on anything falls to zero.
7. Discover terrible things about humanity.
I’ve seen images of the eldery and of the youth beaten. I’ve seen images of beheadings. Of knives in genitalia. Of Russian sex camps. I know that this sh*t is out there but still, I don’t want to be reminded.
8. Learn about Bieber.
I know that he almost went to jail and I know that he went racing in Miami in his Lambo. I know he played his guitar for his Grandma while naked. That’s all fine, but… why the f*ck do I even know these things? It’s upsetting that I care. I know more about Bieber’s life than some members of my family. Not okay.
9. Have 51 tabs open.
Certainly, there is a lack of prioritization somewhere.
10. Witness my friends being idiots.
I’ve seen so many people do stupid things online. Maybe it was repulsive and maybe it wasn’t on purpose. But, I’ve probably done it, too.
11. Look at inspiring quotes.
They’re supposed to lift you up and put a fire under you. But they suck you in. They make you want more. Another addiction, “Oh yeah, that’s it, inspire me harder. More, more!” Until you collapse under the weight of a thousand conflicting aphorisms.
12. Arguments on Facebook.
Nobody has ever learned anything or settled anything from arguing online. I know this from experience. You’re not open to new points in public discussion; you’re just there to ram ideas down throats.
13. Spend time reading posts by crappy bloggers.
We have access to the best minds, yet we choose to consume sh*t written by angry fourteen-year-olds. Or, by people who are obsessed with the idea of success, but who have never tasted it themselves. They push the sh*t on us, so we have to push back and take in goods.
14. Show the world our drunkenness.
You have a platform to tell everybody everything… even your most drunk thoughts.
15. Take the Internet everywhere.
Thanks to smartphones, we can do all these stupid things wherever we want! In line at Starbucks, walking across a street or while laying in bed naked with the people we love…
Respect your attention.
It is the thing for which everyone’s competing. Quit looking for the immediate answer. Stop running to cheap entertainment instead of doing what you know you should. Get the Internet on your team.