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Internet Apathy

By Tom DeMay Jr.   April 7, 1997

I think I've finally reached my Internet saturation point.

Everyone gets awfully riled up when discussing anything about the Net. On one side of the virtual fence are the Net zealots who believe the Internet is the greatest invention ever to see the light of day. They wonder how in the world anyone ever managed without it. On the other side of the fence are the naysayers--convinced that the Internet is the devil's playground: rampant with pornographic offerings and chat room wife-stealing hucksters.

Me? I'm pretty ambivalent about all of it these days.

Sure, the Internet has a lot going for it. E-mail is probably the one singular piece of technology that has forever changed the way I'll communicate. And the proliferation of online zines and Web sites has been great for the dissemination of ideas (like the crap in this piece) . And if underground and non-conformist ideas can be spread more efficiently, without interference from corporate sponsors or without the pressures of huge operating costs, then I'm all for it.

With that said, I must also add that the Net has not progressed into the great international soapbox that I had once hoped it would. As great as the online world is in many ways, I can also understand why some people are disappointed, even disgusted by it. I've seen stuff in my short Net-browsing life that would kill my Mom. (I'm not speaking figuratively.) And as always, when some unscrupulous person sees an opportunity to deceive and swindle someone else, especially in a cold and impersonal manner, of course they're going to exploit it. But that's not the Internet (despite what Ann Landers would have you believe.) That's human nature.

Not that I really even care. I can't feel passionate about the Net these days. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I spend too much time working with it. Our magazine is singularly focused on online culture. If that weren't bad enough, everyday I have to be reminded of it on the way to and home from work. When driving, I'm bombarded with Microsoft billboards. And when I sit down in front of the tube, I'm confronted with Web addresses that pop up at the end of every other television commercial. Even on the radio, which I hardly listen to anymore these days, DJs utter more www's than a rabid Porky Pig. It sort of sickens me, and makes me want to curl up in my little burrow, like some Kafkain protagonist.

The Net is not ruling my life right now. OK, so I spend way too much time on playing Diablo (damn those game creators at Blizzard!). And I do sort through the 100 odd messages I receive daily from the music mailing lists I subscribe to and assorted other e-mail. But I'd like to think these things are not what define me.

Maybe I'm waiting for something big to happen--something that will force the Internet out of its current corporate-induced stagnation and into the highly anarchistic forum of free thought that it was supposed to be. I'm waiting for it to fulfill my expectations of a publishing and intellectual revolution.

But I'm really impatient.

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