And they would call you a geek and beat you up for it.
Hey Reddit, if you're seeing this, look at my eyes and understand that I mean the words I'm about to speak with every fiber of my soul: Fuck you, buddy.
Not because you're a shitty service -- you're great -- but because you have enabled me to ruin myself. Somebody needs to put an asshole-proof lock on my Reddit account. I play Reddit to the exclusion of virtually everything else. I used to check certain sites, every day, because I needed my fix of information. I needed my links to hoard. And then Reddit came along and blew them all out of the water. Why would I go door to door begging for information when I can sit down with this infinitely scrolling service and never, ever stop learning? Every single day is like that Twilight Zone episode where the dude finds that all of humanity is dead, and he rejoices because there's finally time to read now.
Only our glasses never break; there's no ironic twist. We are free to read about decade-spanning Civilization games until our muscles atrophy.
But why is this a problem? It's endless knowledge. Even if you complain about the cluttering memes and obnoxious karma whoring, you can customize your experience. Pick your subreddits carefully, and you'll only see the information that pertains to your interest.
And there it is. Media isolation.
Back in the early days of Internet news, either you couldn't customize the experience or it was so faulty and shitty that nobody bothered. If you wanted information, you had to read special interest blogs, and even they didn't have your exact priorities pinned down. Slashdot might regularly publish stories that you love -- in-depth reviews of phone-phreaking porn, for example; all those sexy clicks and whistles -- but they also did world news. Even if you just scrolled right by a story, you were still dimly aware of its content. Maybe something in the headline would catch your interest, and you'd accidentally expand your horizons. But with user-selected information as the standard (I call out Reddit because it's my vice of choice, but every service does this now, from RSS feeds to Google to Pulse), now I pretty much exclusively read about motorcycles, video games, and fringe science. I'm losing the larger picture. And it's all my fault, obviously: This isn't about externalizing blame, but identifying the weird, diseased parts of our own brains that are screwing us when we're not paying attention.
I'm just saying that I used to pick up the paper and throw everything away but the comics. But occasionally I'd glance at the ground, see a headline screaming at me from the floor, and pick a section back up for a look. Now I have a massive paper that's nothing but comics, and I wouldn't find out about a fucking alien invasion unless it was a reference in today's Ziggy.
Read more from Brockway at his own monument to narcissism/website, The Brock Way. Follow him on Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.