There was a time, not quite as long ago as it seems, where technology was dominated by the intelligent. Purpose built, dedicated environments for task oriented people, who wish to use a platform for a purpose, be it business or pleasure, and then leave it. Now, most of us are tethered to our phones like an IV drip, as we browse an internet drowning in it’s own excess, full of websites padded with advertising and fluff content designed to waste our time, and keep us in environments as long as possible.
Websites usually load ads first and content second, and trying to read them is frequently a nightmare of dodging pop up ads while trying to keep a page centered, as it moves around constantly to accommodate another stupid video ad for a product you will never buy. It’s all so, so much slower than it used to be, even with better WiFi. I fear the internet has peaked – things are slowing down instead of speeding up, and there’s more fake and scam than real now. Stupid corporate shills will of course try to pass it off as natural obsolescence, the march of commercial progress or a user issue, having never used such tech when it aimed at intelligent, purposeful use and not bored distraction. Most of the internet users now have only ever known Apple or Google, and far too many assume every tech company is as stupid as the big two.
Google searches are horrendously unreliable, their maps and directions lie constantly, and their phones (like this one) are garbage after about six months or so. The shitbrick I’m writing this on, which frequently autocorrects words spelled perfectly, is worse at learning language than my flip phone from 2008. It’s inbuilt word processing apps are worse than low end knockoff programs from the 90’s, aimed at slow one finger typing with autocorrect that only works when you don’t need it, and never when you do.
Then there’s rotten old Apple, which dumbed down tech for a generation or two of humans, taking tech from a primarily adult pursuit into a smug and childishly simple, yet childishly difficult realm of vague icons and atrocious user interfaces. They gentrified and partially mainstreamed tech, and of course fucked it up horrendously in the process. Their brand has produced a fiendish corporate loyalty not seen outside of the insanity of sneaker culture – I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard ” You SHOULD buy an iPhone”, and the fact that none of these people are reps for Apple is alarming. It is not healthy to love corporations that aren’t paying you, so let’s denormalize it already.
Beyond all that, there is no excuse for a level of forced obsolescence that says you need a new phone every year, as perpetuated by the sociopathic Cult Of Apple. We used to complain about replacing a well maintained, high end desktop PC every five years, despite the leaps in quality and performance between machine generations being more significant, or so it seemed. Now, I bitch about my three year old cell with a handful of low usage apps and regular maintenance misbehaving, and people act shocked that I’m not buying the latest model annually like a total chump.
For less than the latest iPhone or Android I could buy another PS5 that can load hyper detailed, massive open worlds in less than a minute from booting up. Please, justify to me buying a phone that costs more than a brand new PS5 or Xbox, a high end laptop or desk rig, and a giant 4K TV to use them on, COMBINED. All of which should work fine for years, unlike the phone. Forced obsolescence is a cult with no regard for individual economics or environmental sustainability, and if you really need a new phone every year, evidently these phones are garbage, and none are worth more than $100 per unit.
As for the internet itself, it has reached the same point that cable TV and commercial radio did in the 2000’s. That being a 50/50 imbalance of ads and content, with half of the latter being fluff and clickbait, which means it’s really more like a 75/25 ratio of filler to substance. Tabloid and clickbait journalism are the standard now, and good writing is rare. Social media is a sloppy mess that has emboldened our worst selves and turned a good chunk of the population into low functioning addicts, constantly in need of external validation while acting cruelly and irrationally, with no concept of time and other personal boundaries. I’ve lived with social media junkies, and they’re no less volatile and unreasonable than most of the amphetamine addicts and alcoholics I’ve also lived with.
Pop-up advertising on traditional webpages is often on par with what it once was on porn or pirating sites, and it seems half of most pages are ads now, often for products and services totally in opposition the content of the website itself. Blame inflated hosting costs, I know, I know. But we live in a world where advertising thinks content exists to support ads, instead of advertising knowing it’s place. The person who invented pop-up ads should be shot (not exaggerating, I mean it), given all the time they’ve wasted for others, and all the intelligence they’ve helped insult along the way.
Worse yet, all of this creates bleating cattle who think life is merely a series of ads, load buffers and memes, and can’t understand the anger and impatience of those of us who are trying to use tech like sniper rifles, and not a spray and pray approach. You’ll be called out of touch and technologically unintuitive by people who spend six hours a day on Tik Tok, and do less in a month than you do in week, despite the exact same things you are trying to do being easier to accomplish merely ten years ago. They’ve only ever known shit tech and a post-prime internet, but new is always best to them, and critiques hurt their feelings of Pavlovian corporate loyalty, so it’s not even worth talking about it to most people now.
It’s easy to spot the gamers from the social media dopefiends this way, and admittedly advances in gaming make most everyday tech look pretty pathetic. It blows me away how many younger folks who defend modern tech don’t even understand terms like input lag and framerate, and it’s often pretty easy to spot the time wasters from the high achievers far too quickly. It’s tragicomic how weak and stupid tech is making people, and that’s exactly the opposite of how it was (and was perceived) less than twenty years ago.
Really, the internet’s best aspect these days has been in how it has rendered traditional TV and radio obsolete, and made shows, games and music more affordable and accessible. At least the entertainment power balance has become more democratized and competitive, and good shows and music no longer cost you a couple hundred a month. I am genuinely surprised cable TV still exists to be honest, and it think it will die eventually.
Tech is not supposed to use us, and that’s what we need to remember. It’s a rope, not a stick, and is meant to save time, not waste it in ad loops and distracting clickbait. Nor is it to be defined by the design and mentality of only two gigantic entities, both burdened with questionable track records and myopic arrogance – sounds a bit like politics, no?
It’s not that the internet has failed us so much as we have it, by trying to pollute it like the once magical mediums we ruined before it, and mocking anyone who questions the validity of it all as a tech Boomer, or high maintenance. I honestly only visit about five websites these days, as most of everything else just presents as an ADHD timesink that exists as a portal for ad revenue. Such wasted potential, but such is humanity.
I’m sure this all seems like a get off my lawn rant, but the truth is the lawn’s all dead, as the space where it was is now occupied by ads, like all the other lawns. But why have free space when you could fill it with more ads for shit clothes and worse music, right?