I don't think I belong on the Internet
So much of what I experience on the Internet seems shoddy, shallow and unnecessarily rude. It all seems so mean-spirited and stupid. When they're not trying to sell you something, they're trying to to force something into your machine or your brain that will give them an in to sell you something later. Someone's always trying to scam you or insult you or take something from you that they can sell to someone else.
I was a pioneer in this space. I remember ASCII porn and when 2400 baud was fast. I ran a BBS. I hunted the wumpus and played Zork. I remember USENET. I remember what the online world was like back before the World Wide Web, back before a public-use nationwide email system was possible. I'm not saying that was a time of golden-age bliss – it was nerd-saturated, and nerds are nerds because they lack people skills. “Trolling” and being a “Grammar Nazi” are not new phenomena.
I'm not nostalgic for any of that. Those online spaces were difficult to navigate The ease with which one can stroll through the Internet is amazing to those of us who used to inhabit BBSs limited by the number of phone lines the Sysop had in his house. When I play Fallout 4, or Skyrim or Civ V (Civ VI is garbage) I'm always struck by how much easier it is to get lost in these games, and how beautiful they are.
But you'll probably notice that my favorite games list doesn't include any multi-player games. There's a reason for that. Guess. Between the griefers and the trolls I know no better way to make a person despair for the future of humanity than spending time in an MMO. Seeing what people turn into when there's no way to enforce civility and no consequence for stupidly obstructive behavior turns my stomach. Seeing people laugh at people who behave like this knots my guts.
The places for discussing politics, art, and even pop culture are no better. In fact, they're often worse. Our political discourse these days is polarized and devolved to fact-free shame-labeling and Pharisaical virtue parades, but add in anonymity, and the result is a toxicity and lack of substance that makes even an old-school news junkie like me say, “remind me again why we're in this superfund sewer?”
When was the last time you saw, on the Internet, anything that you'd be tempted to call “wit?” What is the ratio between cringe and moments of enlightenment or aesthetic beauty? 10:1? You must be using some Internet that I'm not. 1000:1? That's still generous.
There's just so much dreck now, so much dishonesty and scamming and crude behavior and data mining that it's just not worth it anymore.
So I think I'm about done with the Internet, except what I have to do for work. It's not that I'm making bold, virtuous resolutions, I'm just done. I find that I can't enjoy it anymore. I quit my blog, Facebook and Twitter about two years ago, and frankly, I haven't missed them much. LinkedIn is next to go, I think, and Amazon (except for my music – they have that hostage). Ebay is no longer necessary – I have enough dustcatchers to last me a lifetime. My website drew more grief than it was worth.
So, farewell, Internet. I loved you before you had a name.