Why This Decade Sucked, Reason #10: Social Media Ruined the Internet


We will, in the closing days of this wretched decade, list the Top Ten reasons why it sucked, starting from the bottom.

Remember back in the 90s, when you loved the internet? When you saw it through a child's eyes, and clapped with delight at dancing hamsters, cruddy Flash animations, and Suck.com? Everything was shiny and new, and every innovation was a revelation that made you eager to see what the wizards would come up with next.

Now look at the damn thing. It's TV with an endless number of stations -- except the flipper gives you carpal tunnel. It's an endless time-suck, a global addiction, and a drag.

You say it's brought many wonders into your life? No doubt. You can shop for cars, books, jobs, etc. You can join communities you never even knew you wanted to join. Porn is free as the wind blows, free as the grass grows. The internet has everything and gives it to you fast. You can't imagine life without it.

Which is part of why it sucks: it has become depressingly indispensable, like a car or a microwave. It has evolved to the point where it can't do much more for you. Which is to say, it isn't going to get any better: it will add features, but will basically remain the same tool: a super TV that you can talk back to.

Ah, talking back -- now, there was an innovation: Social Media, the last significant piece in the internet evolution, and beginning of the end of the dream.

In this decade that is winding down, an enormous number of people came to believe that the internet was going to become a conduit of people power that would change life as we know it, as surely as the Internet Bubble was going to make us all millionaires and Urban Fetch was going to be everyone's butler.

Remember when the big thing was blogs? When people were calling the first social media tool "people's media," "we-dia," and other such self-bestowed honorifics? When Megan McArdle said blogs would turn the internet into "a very advanced, processing brain," a self-correcting mechanism that would perfect journalism and advance human thought into a golden age?

We should have known from blogging's early successes what was really going to become of it. Those successes were not about enlightenment -- elucidating issues, or spurring debate -- but about taking down public figures obnoxious to bloggers.

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