The votes are in and, Yes!, the Internet is now considered to be more irritating, obnoxious and intruding than television in its heyday ever was.
The Internet was originally designed to be a tool of the military for passing along information electronically and swiftly from one location to another like who to bomb next and what was safe to eat in the cafeteria today. It was basic, devoid of images and worked. When it first came into the public sector it served a simple informational need that was limited pretty much to those who had the intelligence and patience to work with a medium that required those talents. The code was difficult to use, requiring the brain and emotional level of a robot and was a channel that was pretty much used only for passing worded and numerical information.
As the medium gained wider use outside the geek community demands were made for it to be faster, simpler, be user friendly and have cat and nude women pictures. Rather than just lines of black and white letters moving across the screen there had to be loud videos of pop stars singing about romance while dancing around as naked as legally possible, pictured diatribes about every inane thing under the sun, troll breeding grounds and ads for products we don’t need but that producers are convinced we do.
So, in the beginning the Internet was exclusively in the realm of smarter people; as it evolved, it slowly fell into the universe of more illiterate people who wanted it bastardized to their own levels of greed, baseness, lewdity and imbecility. Dumbing down, you might say. Demands were made that it be quicker, more colorful, be loud , have music. At some point in about the early 2000’s it started to de-evolve; moving backwards towards Neanderthalism.
Television, meanwhile, was rather annoying from the beginning. Its sponsors always wielded strict control over the content of the shows and made sure their programs stayed well inside the box. Early television was purposely puerile to make sure not to offend anyone. It wasn’t until the 60’s came with better news reporting, shows like 60 Minutes, Face The Nation, the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and fictional shows like Twilight Zone and the Andy Griffith Show offered better quality and depth to programming. Of course, soap operas came along to keep the dumbing down movement alive.
The Internet started out at the other end of the spectrum. It has now surpassed television in just about all aspects of annoyance.
Here are examples:
Commercials- Television would interrupt you every 10 minutes with about two minutes of ads. On today’s screen it is even more frequent. But the Internet is constantly poking you in the face with sidebar ads, pop-ups, announcements that block what you are reading and ads you can’t get rid of. At least television would only run you over for a few minutes with their brainwash- the Internet is a constant barrage from all sides and all senses.
Loudness- Television has long played the game where the networks will lower the sound for the regular show, then raise the decibels up greatly when the ads come on. To trump that the Internet has just recently had video ads start up loudly right when you arrive a new web page. And some of them you can’t turn off. At least with a television remote you could turn the entire one eyed beast off.
Invasiveness- Television would never peek in on you while you were watching it, at least not until recently with the invention of ‘smart TV’ which the NSA uses to secretly record you while you and your wife are making out while watching the Late Show. These amateur porno videos then circulate through a certain level within the NSA higher ups and are later sold on Ebay (Just kidding-maybe!). In the old days this did not happen, unless you want to include that scene from the original ‘1984’ movie in which Winston Smith breaks a mirror in the old farmhouse where he and his lover meet and discovers a television camera behind it recording their every caress.
Now Google stores your every download, email and whine on a website, as does every advertiser on the Web who wants to know every buying habit you have down to what type of underwear you buy. And, of course, who knows who is looking back at you from that little pinhole camera lens that almost every laptop has these days?
The Dark Side- Television had no dark side. If you wanted to get skanky stuff in the old days of three channels you had to put on a coat and head down to your local smut shop. Now the Internet has a dark side that is called (Surprise!) the Dark Web. And it is a vile as anything you could dredge out of a sewer. Rumor has it it is hosted by Lord Voldemort.
And now we have the event that caps it all off- the ending of Net Neutrality! Big Brother has just jack booted his way into the computer world big time, except in this case it is not the government behind the intrusiveness, but rather Big Business. The Internet will now be all about the money, much like those scientists who sell their soul out to corporations and political entities by slanting their findings towards their own betterment.
Maybe it is time to pull the plug on the computer much the same way many of us pulled the plug on the Boob Tube long ago.
Or maybe come with an alternative Internet that is really for information and not infomercials.