Why the Internet is overrated

At present, I am watching an Internet clip show on a geek-centric television network called G4. By my count, it is one of at least three popular television shows that use internet video either as the central component of the show or a major complementary element.

This would seem like the least likely outcome of the technology that made Internet video possible. If you had known in 2003 that YouTube would exist in its current form, you almost certainly would not have anticipated that a series of TV networks would devote programming to the hosted broadcast of YouTube content and be successful at it.

Pretty much all there is to it.

Internet video — in this context meaning user-created and Internet-hosted — has actually made televised video more popular.

What this proves (and what nobody seems willing to realize) is that the Internet is not nearly as convenient a device as we all think it is.

Now, this is not me ripping the Internet, which is indisputably amazing. It is fantastic for certain things:

1) Instantaneous communication

2) Free expression

3) Intellectual larceny

4) Storage of information

Most of what people like about the Internet falls under at least one, usually two, of those categories. Most of what people hate about the Internet falls into at least one, usually two, of those categories.

But — and here’s the thing people never talk about — the Internet is not (always) convenient. There are many things we use the Internet for that it is not best equipped to execute.

The triangle offense being chief among them.

For example, let’s say you want to know as much as you can about what’s happening in your city and you have 11 minutes to learn it. Your best bet, by far, is to pick up your daily newspaper.

It's that thing in the plastic bag on your grandmother's porch.

All of that same information is available on the Internet, but it is going to take you twice as long to consume it all, even if you go to that very newspaper’s Web site, where you invariably will spend a good deal of your 11 minutes clicking around, canceling out pop-up ads and misunderstanding hyperlinks.

You will end up reading most likely a third the number of stories and you will probably just update your Facebook status.

For another example, let’s say you want to watch some viral videos. You could go to any number of Web sites that attempt to aggregate that kind of content, or you could go straight to YouTube. But you will end up wasting a lot of time on links that don’t interest you. The very thing that makes that content possible (total freedom of expression) is what makes it awful; because anybody can contribute, it is saturated with garbage.

Or you could just watch a TV show, produced by professionals who understand what makes good TV, hosted by a professional who adds to the experience, and filtered by living humans with functional garbage filters.

The best way to watch YouTube is to simply watch the tube.


It is supposed to be hot here; or, Kansas’ climate is not well understood

These words will end up being stuffed right back inside my mouth, and that is a reality I am comfortable with. This is because I am impulsive, and I have a strong impulse to write them, even if I know the consequence is likely to involve future humiliation.

I moved to Houston 10 days ago, and practically every person I have met here has almost immediately warned me about the weather in July, as if I should be preparing for the Apocalypse.

Now, I don’t want to suggest that I am not concerned with this. Every morning when I take the dog out, I fear that this will be the day the sidewalk vaporizes beneath my feet, leaving me walking barefoot (my sandals would have melted, too) though a bayou of molten concrete and hobo excrement.

And I further recognize that Houston is legitimately scorching. I read somewhere it was the “sweatiest” city in the United States. This I suppose could have been a measure of obesity, or of physical exertion, or the exertion of the obese, but considering the heat seems to be the main thing anyone wants to tell  you about Houston, I’m assuming it was a comment on the climate.

ANYWAY, all of this has made me realize that most people do not have a clear conception of the climate in the lower midwest. Kansas, I keep wanting to point out, is not exactly North Dakota.

Recently, someone warned me that in the summertime here it will  “get into the 90s with 90 percent humidity.” This was delivered like a grave warning. At the risk of sounding smug, I am, uh, familiar with that kind of heat.

So these are the words I am expecting to be eating in somewhere between 15 and 45 days: I know heat.

I have been incredibly hot in Kansas. One-hundred-degrees-in-the-shade hot. Football-practice-in-full-pads-at-3 p.m.-on-a-102-degree-day hot. Step-outside-at-8 a.m.-and-start-dripping hot.  So hot it makes you incredulous the human race survived in Kansas long enough to make it to the inventions of air conditioning and Gatorade.

In the past year, I have interviewed for jobs in Columbia, South Carolina and Memphis, and this same thing happened to me there. If you live south of Interstate 70 (what I call the Great Barbecue Divide), you most likely assume Kansas is more like Nebraska than Oklahoma*.

*I know some Kansans will disagree with me, but even from a cultural perspective I’ve always felt  Kansas was more closely related to Oklahoma than Nebraska or Iowa. 

Even though Kansas has both brutal winters and brutal summers, the thing everyone south of it notices is the winters. Which makes sense. Humans are constantly doing things like that. When I was 8 and we lived in Indiana, I remember thinking Kansas, where my grandmother and cousins lived, was some kind of desert wasteland. This probably had a lot to do with a photo of my cousin playing in my grandmother’s yard, a yard in which all the grass was completely yellow and dead on account of some wicked drought that must have occurred in about 1989.

But still. Because it was hotter than Indiana, Kansas was therefore HOT. And I think that’s what happens with people from Houston. Because Kansas is sometimes cooler than Texas, it is always cooler than Texas.

That all said, I could go for a Gatorade.