It used to be I could roam the Web for hours upon hours, stumbling upon new, fascinating Web sites. Even before Google came around--which is still vastly overrated, although an argument could be made that itís the best of a bunch of bad apples--there were other search engines that could at least point you in the direction you wanted to go.
You could find a site that has the kind of content you want and invariably, depending on the site, there would be links offering you more of the same and those sites would have links and so on, ad nauseam. There literally was no end, well, except for here. And here. And here.
Of course, youíre going to run into pricks on the Net. And invariably, many will appear greatly confident behind their mask of anonymity. If youíre posting things on the Web, especially ideas or in particular pictures of yourself, which in most cases is not advisable, you can expect some mudslinging, often accompanied by schoolyard taunts and expletives.
You can take it from my personal experience, because there are many women who get a great chuckle out of the sight of some personals that men will post on the Web. The Internet can at least be defined as being connective, informative and entertaining.
A virus used to be something that made you sniffle and sneeze and you had to endure it from anywhere from a couple days to longer, resulting in the purchase of medicines and travel-sized tissues. Now it also pertains to programs that will potentially destroy your computer and everything on it or at least make you the unaware passer-on of said destructive code.
Few people have ever had this happen to them where they literally have to throw out their system but weíve heard the stories and weíve seen the numbers and weíre supposed to be very afraid.
Funny how many of them are named after people. Must be angry ex-lovers or something although I always envisioned virus-makers to be those young men clad in coke bottle glasses who connect with their "girlfriends" over their webcams and the perfect Friday night consists of having a great game of Half-Life and maybe a peek of a nipple over their Internet connection. These are dangerous people who could throw the world into turmoil. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Junk mail is also one of those Internet creations that has become a scourge to all of society. Sure, sometimes it can be as easy as click and delete but often when you check your email and you have one unintelligible message from you computer-illiterate father and fifty "Increase the size of your penis" messages it gets a little irksome.
Really, if there were a pill that would make our penises two inches longer, trust me, every guy on the face of the planet would be buying them in droves and weíd have enough stored in our closets to last five lifetimes and weíd probably overdose on it. With the exception of Ron Jeremy of course, who would likely rather have a "take me seriously as an actor" pill. Surely weíve all been in a chatroom or two? In concept, itís great as you get to connect to interesting people all over the world with similar tastes but inevitably youíre going to come across someone like Studboy.
"Any hot chicks want 2 talk with a S/W/18 Studmuffin?" You may even come across someone like myself who answers with, "Anyone want to see a live suicide on my Webcam, providing I can figure out how to get it to work?"
Of course, pop-up windows are also a lovely invention that supposedly can generate money off a free concept.
Itís kinda like the equivalent of going to see a movie and having to watch a couple 2-minute commercials for some perfume youíve never heard of and maybe if youíre lucky, after a half hour the actual movie you paid to watch will start. Thus, if I could insert a pop-up here, I would plug Mozilla (http://www.mozilla.org) as an alternate browser to IE that has a built-in pop-up blocker that works so much better than anything else.
Of course, with the proper research, just about anyone can make a Web site and in some instances one could determine who should not have children based on the sites they have created. Check out these beauties, www.ihumpthings.com/mypics or www.holdthebutton.com, www.watchmedance.com and www.heptune.com/farts.html
Those examples fortunately, are just dumb but thereís also some sick crap out there. Someone I actually dated once told me that she got a good kick out of looking at the stuff on www.rotten.com, which surprisingly enough was not a big reason why I stopped seeing her. That site needs a major warning label on the front but this is the Internet, a place for free speech and free illustrations apparently. Donít say I didnít warn you that itís pretty sick. Did I mention that I donít believe in censorship but do believe in the right to oneís own tastes?
And, of course, the Internet is not as free as we are made to believe. Unless youíre surfing on your parentsí computer or are using dial-up youíve probably noticed that the charge for your high-speed account has grown exponentially over the last few years. Also for some strange reason there are far too many sites out there that want your credit card number before you can access anything. Yes, I understand with some porn sites thatís probably a good thing but you can still pretty much find everything free of charge anyway. I think.
Itís also highly addictive. Over 10-years ago on my parentsí 14 kbps modem that attached to AOL I managed to stay up all night long in some vampire chatroom and was subsequently banned from using the computer for months and months. Iíve only got about 10-15 sites bookmarked at the moment but I still manage to waste many hours a week with that measly number.
Now, I would be remiss to not include some of the truly great things about the Net in this list such as being able to meet some really cool people that you would never otherwise have the chance to meet. Itís one thing to know that every time your girlfriend heads out for a night on the town that sheís going to get hit on by who knows how many sleazebags and have the same thing happen when sheís online. Itís one thing to lose your girl to a six-foot-four former quarterback with blue eyes and curly hair but you must be some kind of idiot to lose her to some faceless dude on the Net. On that note, I will leave out any personal anecdotes on this point.
While it may not all be free, there is lots of free stuff to be had. You can read the news for free, even though itís not the same as the paper in my opinion, itís still free, unless youíre trying to search in the NY Timesí archive in which point you better ante up. Thereís lots of free reference too which makes one wonder, sit in a library or search the Internet from the comfort of your home? Sure, there are some people who say that much of the info in the Net isnít reliable but Iíve also heard some say that Elvis is dead and Iíve yet to see either point proven true. Besides, I got my money from Bill Gates and you can too.
There also can be some funny stuff out there to be found aside from the dozens of rip-your-hair-out forwards that friends tend to send everyday. Youíre probably the only person who hasnít seen the Star Wars Kid videos and remixes if youíre going "huh?" There are also a number of reasons why itís great that just about anyone can make a Web site. I have no idea what a Happy Pencil is but it seems confoundingly pleasurable. http://www.happypencil.com. Thereís even cute little cards that you can send to your friends. (http://www.funny-pictures.com/ecards/bear/1.swf)
Now one simply can not write about the wonders of the Web without mentioning that plethora of sex to be found. This could also be listed under "free stuff". No dinner, no wine, no compliments required, and no diseases.
Perhaps the Internet doesnít suck so much after all, or at least not a lot aside from much of my spare time.