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Does The Internet… Suck?

Can we talk about the Internet in general for second? The people seem the same, the places seem the same, but the nature of the Internet itself… What is happening there?

I used to think that it was just Google. That my little Apple corner of the world was safe. I was so frustrated at Google’s constant advertising, invasive privacy policies, and irrelevant search engine. Sure, I’d use gchat and maps on a reg, but even those started experiencing… issues.

My alarms first went off when I casually gchatted to a friend about deleting gchat convos. I made some pithy joke about how it was impossible because Google now controls our conversations. He responded honestly, with a simple “well what do you expect” type answer, and I responded with an understandable “I’ve already said too much” *dramatic exit* type rebuttal.

I've Said Too Much
This Photoshop Says It All.

The next day we had a really intense conversation through ghcat. I thought my writing was so good that I copied a piece of it and emailed it to another friend.

24 hours later, I went back to re-read my conversation. It was gone. And not just that one piece – the previous 24 hours of my chatlog had completely disappeared. The history went from “Oh no, I’ve said too much! And Google won’t let me erase it!” to a new conversations starting with, “Hey my gchat history has been deleted.”

I searched my email for the excerpt I’d sent to my other friend. There was no trace of it. It seemed that every email that mentioned anything from the convo had been erased. I could still see other emails from that day, but nothing referring to that specific conversation.

Frustrated, I reached out to Google and never heard anything back, of course.

But it’s more than just that. Google maps has almost completely stopped working on my phone. And no friends, not in the “user error” kind of way, in the why does Google maps suck now kind of way. Notice most of those results are dated 2015. I’m not ashamed to admit I don’t know my way around the city I live in quite yet, but when a ten minute trip takes over an hour due to Google’s new updates, something is seriously wrong.

But enough whining about Google – what the Hell is Apple doing with Siri? Fine fine, I used to work at Apple, let me use some of my troubleshooting skills. It may be my hardware (Oh wait I just replaced my phone) or my software (oh wait I did full restores on both phones). That must mean it’s my imagination, and Siri just no longer responds to me, personally.

Siri isn’t even my biggest complaint. Has anyone tried to use the Music app? It’s basically a constant push of Apple’s subscription services. And any time I try to remove it from my phone, the entire app crashed and reloads – with the subscription service front and center. Is Apple really so unprofitable that they must resort to tactics like this to get people to use their services?

MOAR MUNNEY
Go Away

Yes, most of these complaints have been minor ones. But steadily the quality of everything on the Internet has gone down. From the “customization” the BBC app has tried to push (which causes you to see ONLY they news you want) to the ineffectual nature of searching for a credible source of information, even down to the way ads are presented. For instance, I was on Cracked yesterday and every 5 seconds a new page opened up with the same ad. Apparently, I was clicking on the white space around the article, and that launched the full page ad. Is no space sacred on a website anymore?

Ads for Everyone!
Every part of the white space is an ad.

My boyfriend changed my worldview completely when he casually mentioned how much more pleasant it is to use books these days. “Best thing about books? No ads!” He joked, revolutionizing my understanding of the costs and benefits of the Internet.

There’s a great Resilience.org article about how all the things we used to do were only made faster by the Internet. The Internet really didn’t bring anything new to the table, it just reduced the amount of time that it took to do them.

It’s a source of wry amusement to me that so many people seem to have forgotten that the internet doesn’t actually do very much that’s new. Long before the internet, people were reading the news, publishing essays and stories, navigating through unfamiliar neighborhoods, sharing photos of kittens with their friends, ordering products from faraway stores for home delivery, looking at pictures of people with their clothes off, sending anonymous hate-filled messages to unsuspecting recipients, and doing pretty much everything else that they do on the internet today. For the moment, doing these things on the internet is cheaper and more convenient than the alternatives, and that’s what makes the internet so popular. If that changes—if the internet becomes more costly and less convenient than other options—its current popularity is unlikely to last.” – Richard Heinberg 

I think I’m on the cutting edge of technological/philosophical thought. And my conclusion from the frontier is that the Internet is no longer convenient enough to outweigh the negative side effects brought on by its continued use. Call me weak-willed, but after a year of social media bankruptcy, I’ve lost my tolerance with the current status quo online.

I want to end on a positive note, talking about all the good things still left on the Internet. But I can only think of Khan Academy, and I’m just not sure that’s enough anymore.

So, I’m asking you to show me the good parts of the Internet. Restore my faith in it, dear readers. I dare you. But I’m not holding my breath.


Photo Credits: Internet by Dennis Skley


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Interested in many things, but nothing captivates more than technology, entrepreneurship, futurism, and humanity's quest to problem-solve.

  • Dylan J

    I’ve gotten so sick of the internet too! Have you been to cnn.com recently? Not only is it slower than the moon’s phases due to all the ads, it immediately asked me to send my computer push notifications! It makes me think that quality and profitability are dualistic concepts on the internet, because everything that makes a website profitable makes me never want to visit it again. I wonder if Google and Apple have come to the same conclusions, and that’s why their services have degraded so much.
    Your example of Kahn Academy is a good one. I happen to have a high opinion of Wikipedia, which is donation funded like KA. I wonder if that has something to do with the level of quality of those sites?

    • Cassandra

      But just like ads, the requests for donations (esp on wikipedia right now) break my heart and the guilt makes me not want to return. They may have a higher quality, but if they can’t raise money, are they truly sustainable enterprises? Khan Academy and Wikipedia will ALWAYS be free – as long as they can pay for themselves. If they can’t – what happens? Do they just disappear?