How to Survive the Internet

Remember AOL? When a profile was a thing with like five questions (“Marital Status: LQQKING”) and a space for a personal quote? In sixth grade I remember my high school-aged cousin wrote “a weekend wasted is not a wasted weekend” for his PQ, and I didn’t even get it but I thought he was the “kewl”-est, so I put it in mine too (right next to an Erykah Badu lyric that I thought sounded sophisticated but didn’t realize was about the spiritual complexity of being a woman).

Then there were the “hometown” webpages! Mine was filled with shiny bubble letters (which totally required knowledge of ~HTML~) and those weird slutty avatar things. How anyone didn’t detect my gayness is a mystery, but that’s neither here nor there.

Nothing during those AOL days was ever here or there, and that’s what was so wonderful about it. Nothing mattered. It was all so safe and vacuum-y and intimate. You could log in and log out, knowing that you were always pretty much aware of everything you needed to be aware of, because really there was nothing to be aware of anyway. Save for maybe your forty or so buddies’ profiles. (OMG, was I a loser?)

But now we have this information overload situation. Today’s Internet is all about making the world a better place generating money and expressing outrage and displaying sad, dark thoughts for the world (see: no one) to read and humble-bragging and think-piecing and time-wasting and lots of other things but mostly generating money. It can (Taylor) swiftly turn into a soul-sucking place if you let it.

This is especially true for those people who want to feel like they have a grasp on shit. Because unlike AOL Hometown, one can never have a grasp on today’s actual Internet. Obviously! I know.

But how often do you still feel like you’re trying anyway? How often do you try to get to a point online where you’re like, “Okay, I’m fully aware of everyone out there who wants the same things as me, and I can totally take all of them on”? (#SelfObsession.) How often do you find yourself with twenty tabs open only to work through all of them and then feel LITERALLY LIKE YOUR SOUL HAS BEEN PUNCHED IN THE FACE?

(Do souls even have faces?)

I un-followed about two-hundred Twitter accounts last week.

And! It was such an Emancipation of Mimi moment. With a simple Twitter cleanse, the mental curse of the Internet becomes a million times more manageable and less draining. I now wonder why I even bothered reading half of the shit I used to in the first place. Like, why did I ever even follow Gawker? All that site ever did was make me feel like a loser for not being as “clever” (/snarky/bitter/troll-y) as its writers, and also like there was no reason to ever be positive about anything at ALL, EVER, which is a fun way to live. (Except not.)

Ugh, Internet snark. There is just so damn much of it. And it’s so contagious. Especially if you’re smart. Especially if you’re frustrated with just about anything in life. It’s so gross. Except for when it isn’t and it’s just hilarious. Bah! Snark is such a contradiction-inducing topic of ugh-ness for me. I love it! But I hate it. Everyone is such an asshole. But sometimes that’s the perfect thing to be? I don’t know.

Surviving the Internet means constantly reminding yourself that it is so not real.

I suck at remembering this, because social media especially targets this weird, #basic corner of the brain that thrives on attention and validation and empty communication and self-identification and instant gratification and comparison — and it’s addicting someTIMES, you GUYS!!! It’s like being wasted on some kind of fruity vodka drink that tastes super sweet going down but then makes you want to vom about an hour and a half later.

But social media can do so much good. Spreading positive messages and shit. It has turned my mood around on many an occasion — whether seeing someone else’s inspirational post or getting feedback on one of my own. Of course the same things have turned my mood in the exact opposite direction on more than a few occasions, too. So again I don’t know.

Can we talk about fan armies? They are frightening.

Who even are they???

Whenever I make the mistake of exploring the online world of fandoms (#BeyHive, #Grandtourage, #Swifties, etc.) I always come out of it super sad and afraid for the millions of people who worship other humans for no reason and live in these, like, delusional states of wishing that one day they’ll be validated for good by the Internet celebrity of their choice with the magical power to make all problems go away forever.

But then fandoms can also be a crazy beautiful modern phenomenon of community. Yet another paradox of the Internet!

It can be tricky for the Internet celebrities themselves, too. I randomly met Frankie Grande the other day and we were talking about his Big Brother journey and at one point he sighed and was just like, “People love to assign their own versions of my story to me.”

It made me think deeply for like, two seconds, but then I just couldn’t WAIT to tweet/Insta a pic of us together.

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Because I’m a hypocrite, duh! I want to be Internet-popular toooo.

Which is just silly, because if there’s anything to be learned from this post it is that the Internet isn’t going to solve any problems that you can’t solve yourself (except for when you need to find out Zac Efron’s height, maybe) — but it just may create new ones.

Surviving the Internet is to accept this fact. It’s taking the pressure off, signing the fuck out whenever possible, and knowing when it’s time to focus on something real in life. Because as unremarkable as you think real life might be sometimes, it’s all any of us actually have. And when it comes to the fruity vodka drink that is today’s Internet, a weekend wasted really is a wasted weekend.

 

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Tragedy Strikes During My Fantasy Football Draft

So, with the exception of last week’s glorified Instagram posting, it just occurred to me that it has been two full weeks since my last real post. Gasp!

Where has the time gone?

Actually, I can answer that question:

  • One weekend at a casino filled with a drunken Zac Brown Band concert and modest gambling
  • Four gay bar debaucheries (just like the olden days of Keychanges)
  • My fantasy football draft, which turned into a major debacle when I lost my Internet connection
  • Lots of feelings-eating (as per usual)
  • Mad Men and several more Don Draper fantasies
  • Work (lest I forget)

And suddenly it’s fall.

If you don’t know me in real life, you may be shocked to discover that the same emotionally needy gay man who once assaulted a wine bottle out of husband-less frustration happens to be a fantasy football enthusiast (with a title under his belt, no less) and a country music fan, but both facts are indeed true.

Being a gay fantasy football team owner is kind of like being Peggy Olsen in Mad Men. That is to say (for those ignorant to my new television obsession) it is akin to being a female working professional in the male-dominated corporate world of 1960’s advertising — you must overcome prejudice, never let them see you cry, and deal with the fact that everyone is going to expect you to eventually get pregnant and start neglecting your duties. (Really, I should be so lucky to have that last problem.)

To give you some insight as to how I retain my identity while participating in heteronormative activities such as fantasy football, here is a fun little screen shot:

                                  And there goes my credibility.

Please note the Mariah Carey-inspired team name and Victoria’s Secret-approved helmet logo color scheme.

I had been preparing for this season’s draft for quite a few days leading up to the event, so you can imagine my utter rage when my WiFi decided to cut out during the seventh round. Thankfully, I had chosen most of my starters at that point, but when I finally got back in, I found that auto-pick had stocked my bench up with a number of unsavory back-ups.

Not. Okay.

Naturally, I proceeded to write a strongly worded e-mail to my building about how the free WiFi they offer is total crap and I demand a recount! (Kind of nonsensical, but I was pissed.)

The e-mail was actually pretty eloquent, but then I arrived at the final paragraph and couldn’t resist sharing with them that they had negatively impacted my fantasy season.

I now realize that this may have negated the validity of my entire argument and made me come off as some kind of disgruntled frat boy who really needs to gain some life perspective. I might as well have also thrown in that their WiFi is so bad that it interferes with my porn-viewing habits and often renders the Domino’s Pizza Tracker inaccurate.

Needless to say, I’ve yet to receive a response.

Anyways.

I really want to elaborate on the five other bullet points above, but now I also really want to order Domino’s, so I’m torn.

Where would I even begin? The gay bar sagas involve Lou, whom I’ve reluctantly become friends with. The casino weekend involves car troubles and beer, which is always fun to write about. The feelings-eating is pretty much a feature of every other post of mine, so I guess I can skip that…

Ooh! I just got a brilliant idea.

If there’s one story that you’re particularly intrigued by, tell me in the comments. If there is enough feedback, perhaps I’ll just make my next post dedicated to whichever topic has generated the most interest. Or just don’t comment at all and I’ll construe all of the non-response as evidence that my life is as uninteresting as I secretly fear.

(Excuse me while I order a pizza.)

 

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