The Empty Promise of Web Sites


Most of the Internet is a terrific waste of time, full of hot air, cluttered with catchy yet meaningless tripe. It gives the illusion of being content-rich and full of possibility, but it’s the shallow hype of lifestyle sections in a poorly-written newspaper, at best. It’s the colorful variety of supermarket coupons. It’s random postings on a giant bulletin board.

And what’s with the sudden proliferation of exclamation points? Now, that gimmick of advertising has infected even the most casual of comments.  You can’t just “like” that picture of a cute kitten, you have to write “So Cute!” And then it’s time to pat yourself on the back for the productive use of your computer, of being a content-provider, a member of that vast crowd of prosumers who are changing the nature of popular discourse.

We turn to the computer for the same reason we used to turn to the television, for diversion. How else to fill the empty hours? As I look out the window at the teams of Pakistani and Bangladeshi men in purple jumpsuits who labor twelve hours a day building the apartment building across the street, I realize they would love to have the option to dawdle for hours on Facebook, clicking “like” on pictures that divert them. I guess it’s one step removed fro recreational shopping, and God knows enough of us have used the computer for that, as well. Just look at eBay.

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