Longing for the way the internet used to be written 4 years ago

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Being of the certain age I am, it means that the internet was coming of age around about the same time I was. The awkward teenage years of constantly engaged phone lines, chat rooms and rotten.com were shared blissfully; but as we’ve grown older together we’ve gained responsibilities, and now have to care about being upstanding individuals, and generally not making toddlers cry.

Today we hear of court cases against people sending mildly amusing messages on Twitter, silly photo-sharing sites being sold for $1 BILLION DOLLARS and how ; the Internet used to be a playground of unbridled human whimsy, where people were able to proclaim to be the owners of the best page on in the universe, spend their Sunday evenings pretending to be an 11 year old en-pigtailed girl or adding animated gifs to their homepage about their collection of brushless DC fan motors.

The modern internet has some good things

The internet back then seemed to belong to the people, and they used it for whatever they wanted. It was the carpark behind the shops, where someone had erected a few tables and you could join in too if you brought along your own chair to sit on. There were the usual cliques, some goths in the corner and a worrysome collection of psychopaths floating around-that-as-long-as-you-don’t-make-eye-contact-you’re-fine. Nowadays we sit in a vast plasticized expanse of cheap picnic tables, that are plentiful and don’t even require you to bring along your own chair; but merely require you input your date of birth, mobile number and favourite chocolate brand. Occasionally someone might sellotape an advert to your shoes.

Like us on Facebook… because .. well .. it’ll work out better for us if you do. OK, please like us? We’ll give you a free can of pop if you do! You’ll be able to keep track of all of the things we want to sell you! Hurray. Please?

It’s the advertising element that really seems to have dampened the internet experience for me. Sure the internet has always survived on adverts, but so do magazines and newspapers. It was always clear when something was paid content, and it was a necessary evil for editors to publish their content. More recently I feel that elements of the internet exist only to serve as a framework for advertisements, where the sole purpose is to push people towards certain brands, or make people “talk” about a particular brand or event. Facebook is the obvious offender here, but there are others too.

I recently visited a review site I visit frequently. They undertake extensive hands-on testing of products I’m likely to be interested in, so I read most of the articles posted. Recently I spotted an avalanche of short, superficial adverts being added to the site, supposedly written by the staff writers. Reading the articles soon revealed that they mostly paraphrased the promotional media, and in certain approximations of an honest review, would regurgitate comments made by contributors to other review sites. This shuddering lack of editorial scruples, lead surely by the desire for increased search engine results, and eventual sponsored click-through-purchases shows a lack of trustworthiness, and abandonment of readership fulfilment in order for fiscal gain. bleugh.

Perhaps I’m just grumpy that all these kids have come along and spilled their sand all over my internet? Perhaps I’m grumpy I just can’t keep up with all the new instagrabookitters that come along? Perhaps I’m just a big bag of cynicism that just thinks that everything new nowadays is out to get me in some way? But I do find myself longing for the pure internet, the internet that had no other agenda other than showing me its collection of babies heads in jars.

*Refreshes Facebook

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