Sunday

Review: The internet

Many of us worship at the altar of the internet, but we're not quite sure why. Does it save time? No. Any chance benefit to academics and schoolchildren who can now access information from the comfort of their desktops, rather than traipsing around libraries getting cancer of the brain from all the unread literature, has been entirely swallowed up by the minutes and hours, amounting to days and years, wasted by feckless online layabouts in googling people they knew 10 years ago, looking up the history of toast on Wikipedia, and crafting beautiful towering monuments to their own egos on MySpace. "I saw the best minds of my generation, destroyed by blogging..." as Allen Ginsberg kind of almost wrote. Millions of hypochondriacs who would otherwise have been content leafing through medical journals now have, at the touch of a few buttons, access to a whole world of anxiety, sleeplessness and ill-defined symptoms - did you know that a slight headache can be a symptom of AIDS? Did you want to know? Well, you do now, and never again will you be able to get a good night's sleep. Millions of bright, talented people spend their lives surfing the web into the small hours - time in which they could have been writing books, recording albums or touring experimental dance performances around the Netherlands.

Long after humanity has died out from bird flu, meteor strikes, catastrophic climate change or boredom, an alien race will accidentally stumble across the remnants of cyberspace, kept alive by one ancient server buried in the Nevada desert, and add a new entry to their Encyclopedia of Intelligent Life: Humanity, Earth - Deeply trivial. Mating rituals included shaving off all body hair and making yelping noises on camera. Very knowledgeable about haircuts.

The internet: Good for acquiring useless information, but otherwise pretty rubbish. 3 out of 10.

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