When a new thing comes along there’s always a guy standing around expressing indignation. When the spear was invented, this guy said, “What do I need that spear thing for? My rock is perfectly good. It’ll kill anything a spear will kill. And I can’t believe you paid three muskrat skins for that thing. Don’t you know you can just pick a rock up off the ground?”

You’ll be happy to hear that you no longer have to listen to that son of a bitch, because I killed him. And while I’m confessing, I must also admit that that son of a bitch was me.

This homicide was effected over a long period of time, like stirring a pinch of arsenic each morning into a man’s Fruit Loops. One day I was standing strong, saying, “Bah!” to haircuts that cost over $8 and crying, “Insanity!” to sneakers more complex than Converse high tops. The next day I was mocking this dumb-ass “World Wide Web” thing that cost the crazy amount of $10 a month to access. Then the next day I’m signing up for my own email account, and the day after that I’m hyperventilating if my home network goes down for 10 minutes. Now I regularly send email to a guy who sits less than eight feet away from me rather than walk three steps around the corner to talk to him. I have crumbled like a tower of cheese.

It’s not that I’m a Luddite—my geek cred goes back to 1981, when my first computer had a smoking hot 48 kilobytes of RAM. It’s just that I grew up in the church of “What’s that damned thing good for?” and I considered myself a faithful disciple. My positions were clear. Why should someone lay out a bucket of money each month for a mobile phone when there’s a pay phone on every corner? I have 500 video cassettes containing all the movies I love, so why should I pay 20 bucks a pop to replace them with these DVD things? Why spend money on a digital video recorder when I don’t even watch the stupid TV that much anyway?

My clear positions have subsequently eroded. I didn’t just get a cell phone, I bought an iPhone, which is the personification of frivolous crap. I amassed a DVD collection of such splendor that I intend to be buried with it, much like Tutankhamun and his golden urns. Initially my DVR grabbed episodes of “House” and “Bones” when I happened to be out of town, but eventually I commanded it to seek out and capture gems such as “Afro Samurai”. After all of that, my indignation was grievously wounded, and I was desperate for a bulwark upon which to make my stand.

Along came Facebook. I could not imagine a single useful thing that Facebook might provide that could justify the untold hours poured into it like the blood of innocents cast into a belching volcano. I was clear and immovable on this. I would not budge. Then people posted on Facebook some things that were important to me, and I couldn’t see them any other way. So, I signed up and looked at them. That was fine, but I didn’t care to hear when people went to the cleaners, or got laid, or wanted me to farm their fish, or whatever. I didn’t need to share at that level. If I shit a titanium turd in the image of Christ I might post something about it, but probably not.

I was standing firm. I stood firm in a firm and solidly immovable manner. And so I stood for a while. Then I was possessed by the spirit of an alcoholic carnival geek from Alabama, and I posted something that I thought was important. Then I commented on someone else’s post that I thought was cool. Later on I uploaded some photos, and I answered a poll. Then I created a Facebook application. And then I did a lot more stuff until finally, just recently, I created a post on Facebook about my water heater being inspected. That was the act that murdered me and my indignation.

My indignation and I would like a tomb if you don’t mind. Marble cherubs would be nice, and perhaps unicorns if they’re tastefully done. Please lay my indignation and me to rest within this tomb, sing a couple of weepy songs, and put us in the past with hopefully fond memories. And on the tomb please carve the words: INDIGNATION – “This must have cost a fortune. You couldn’t just dig a hole and throw me in it?”

No cherubs? No unicorns? This sucks.


The only Beach Boy who could surf was Dennis Wilson—and he drowned in 1983. This is the kind of valuable, compelling fact that I used to keep in my brain. How foolish I was, possibly because I’d stuffed my brain with a bunch of facts. But the world has transformed itself into a place that provides alternatives, and I needn’t clutter my thinking apparatus with facts anymore. I now let the internet and six terabytes of data storage in my study remember things for me.

You may doubt that I can function after transferring my organically-housed data to off-site storage. I get by fine, thank you. I have fewer headaches, I don’t tell people they’re wrong anymore, and I never waste time on bar bets or whether $2 is a good tip on a $25 check. By the way, my iPad says that is not a good tip, but I have to pay 99 cents at the App Store to get the full version that will calculate the right tip. In the meantime I just left a $20 bill and stole three forks.

To give you an example of my newly superior functioning, I’ll describe how I don’t need to carry any facts in my head in order to get a good deal on a car. I first go to Google and type in “car,” which produces 4,490,000,000 results. This is far better than my unassisted brain could do in 0.23 seconds. I do realize that I need to narrow the search a bit, and I type “how to buy a car.” That gives me 77,800,000 results in 0.25 seconds. Now I’m making progress. But I can do better. I try “how to buy a used car” (4,460,000), “how to buy a good used car” (391,000), and “how to buy a used car without getting screwed” (24,000). Although I’m excited by this success, I still find the prospect of scanning 24,000 sites a little harrowing, so I trust Google and pick the top one on the list.

I won’t tell you the name of this website in case I ever decide to sell cars. I don’t want you to have these secret inside facts to use against me. I will say that the site hosted 18 advertisements, not including two pop-up ads for discount insurance and payday loans. I scanned through the flashing and wiggling ads and found the pertinent facts on buying a car. The first item was, “Decide what kind of car you want.” That made me pause, because I wasn’t sure how to make that decision. I didn’t have any facts about what I needed in a car. Gas mileage? Trunk space? A great stereo, or maybe seat warmers for a toasty bottom in January? I tried “what kind of car do I need?” in Google, but I just got a bunch of questions asking me what I need in a car, and I’d already established that I didn’t know. Finally I just took the choice at the top of the list, which must always be the best, and selected a convertible. I experienced a moment of hesitation, feeling that I might need more detail than just “convertible,” so I narrowed it down to a blue convertible, seeing as I really like blue a lot.

Now the absence of facts in my brain became a powerful tool for good. The internet provided every fact I might need, such as vehicle history reports, list prices, feature packages, and the evils of extended warranties. This left my mighty, unencumbered frontal lobes free to concentrate on the negotiations and the sale. When the salesman whispered that he could give me the secret sport-rally ultra-burn package without his manager knowing, my brain recognized that it must be a valuable deal since I’d never heard of it. I snatched the offer in order to prevent it from going to that greedy couple from Abilene he told me about, who were coming back for it in the afternoon. The best part of all is that the car is colored “Porpoise Snout Blue.”

I’m lucky to live in today’s world, where my brain’s capabilities can be fully unleashed on society, and you’re lucky too. I’ll meet you for lunch at Starbucks, and we can have a disjointed sharing of vaguely connected sentences while we each search the internet to find out what we’re talking about. I may be late. I’m driving my new convertible, and I have to launch a browser on my phone so I can look up what that triangular red and white street sign means.

Porpoise Snout Blue brings out the color in my eyes. (photo courtesy of A Pink Princess)

I hate bars. I think it’s because I spent too much time in bars when I was young, doing and saying stupid things. To me, a bar means cigarette smoke, over-priced liquor, and annoying people who like bars. I consider vomiting a deferred benefit. It’s not unheard of for me to wake up the next day with wounds I can’t explain. I once woke up on the floor with some serious back pain, only to find I’d spent the night sleeping on the telephone. It was one of those chunky black phones like you see in old movies. This should give you an idea of how much I hate bars.

I never behaved as stupidly in a bar as I now do on the internet. The parallels between a bar and the internet shocked me when I realized them. I now understand why people become addicted to the internet the same way alcoholics become addicted to whiskey sours. A bar and the internet both contain a core of nice things to appreciate. But they’re encased in a quagmire of life-sucking garbage.

For example, people hang out in bars, and some of those people know that they know everything. They’ll tell you how to incorporate your business for $15. They’ll explain how superconductors work and why Finland is trying to steal our technology. They’ll reveal how the Illuminati have now become Netflix and the company that makes Red Bull. Some people call these guys blowhards. But no one knows whether these people are right about anything, and the only ones who care to correct them are other blowhards. In bars they’re blowhards, but on the internet they’re called Wikipedia.

Occasionally you’ll see a fight in a bar. People lose a little control after the seventh maitai, and they were probably sad or angry when they came into the bar anyway. Usually they argue. Sometimes they yell. Once in a while they shove, kick, or throw things. Everyone who has had a relative killed in a bar fight, raise your hand. I know my hand is up. In a bar, when you see a guy haul off with a beer mug, it’s easy to know you should stay out of that. But on the internet when I see someone post an odd thing, such as how President Obama has lowered cholesterol for people over 55, I may resist saying anything. When another guy argues back that Obama sacrifices chickens in the White House basement, I get sucked in to responding. Then I realize I was a moron, as I sit in the middle of an electronic free range butt-kicking for the next 24 hours.

When I went to bars I generally went to hang out with my friends and drink. Friends and booze made up the content of the experience, as far as I had it planned. My friends were fun, at least until they got drunk. Then they annoyed me. The drinking was fun, at least until I had knocked back a few. Then people annoyed me because they said I was annoying. I just stayed at the bar too long. If I’d had a couple of drinks, told a few dirty jokes, and went home, the bar would have provided me a charming evening. And that’s how I am with the internet. If I would check out a blog or two, chat with my friends, buy battery-powered socks, and then shut the thing off I’d be fine. But no, three hours later I’m watching a video of a bunny rabbit and a kitten riding a tricycle. My IQ has dropped so far I’m drooling and eating paste off my toes.

You know your life has gone to a bad place when you’ve become a regular at a bar. I don’t give a damn about Cheers. When you walk into a dingy, smoke-filled room where people puke on the stools and the sprinklers don’t meet code, it is not good for everybody to know your name. If the bar patrons just assume that you will be there every night, you have gone astray. It’s the same with the internet. My friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, some of whom I despise, absolutely assume that I will visit the internet every day. They expect I will insert an Ethernet cable into one of my veins multiple times a day, so I may appreciate their emails and posts about new recipes, photos from 1988, and obscure political causes. On the internet everybody really does know my name. I’m thinking of creating a new online identity named SlopeBrowVerminLovesYourSister666. Maybe that will bring me some peace.

I recognize the irony of writing this piece, posting it on the internet, and wanting you to read it on the internet. In my defense, I did say that the internet made me stupid. But I didn’t blast internet content any more than I blasted a gin martini. Overdoing it is where I get really stupid. That may be a big rationalization on my part, but in the end I admit there are advantages to the internet. My breath smells better, and I’ve never woken up after a hard night of web surfing to find I’ve been sleeping on my router.

Me after a heavy night of web surfing. Or a heavy night at the bar. Could be either one, really.