Almost Like History

The World Wide Web at 25: Five rad things and five bad things

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ORLANDO, FLORIDA - JANUARY 18- Inventor and founder of World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee delivers an address to IBM Lotusphere 2012 conference on January 18, 2012 in Orlando, FL. He speaks about social We

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. Image: drserg / Shutterstock.com

You may have noticed when you opened up Facebook this morning, an ad inviting you to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web and say “Thanks” to Al Gore Tim Berners-Lee, who invented it. That’s right, the World Wide Web, the very thing on which you’re reading this article, and the thing you spend most of your day staring at waiting for something to laugh at or be enraged by or swoon over, went live on August 21, 1991.

Obviously a lot has happened since then, and the web has gone through a lot of changes in that time, and is now the dominant force in our culture, for good and ill. Here’s a highly subjective list of 5 Pros and 5 Cons of the World Wide Web.

Rad

polar bears

  • iPhones (and smartphones in general). It’s amazing to me that we carry devices in our pockets which can access at a moment’s notice a basically unlimited amount of information on the World Wide Web. They were invented for that reason. Also, in olden times if you were on public transit and wanted to ignore people you had to buy a newspaper and unfold it so it covered your face, or sit next to an old grumpy person the Mormon missionaries assume is your grandfather, and further assume he is speaking for you when he loudly interrupts their pitch with “NO THANK YOU.” Now you can just put in your earbuds and people assume you’re not interested.
  • The Twitter accounts @Super70sSports, Fake Richard Nixon, @the_IronSheik, and @nihilist_arbys:
  • YouTube. Where else would I be able to see Cats Thug Life, this Eddie Murphy bit from Raw where he does Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby impersonations, and this clip from Billy Madison that I have bookmarked for quick-pasting in Facebook arguments with Trump Supporters or Broncos fans:
  • Finally, the World Wide Web is how I’ve made my living for most of the last 7 or so years. Now, especially, my skills at sharing funny memes on Facebook has allowed me to write this article, right now. That $60,000 I spent on my MFA is finally paying dividends.

Obviously, this is very specific to me, and you may being saying to yourself, “Nah dawg, that’s a definite con.”

Which, well, fair enough.

Bad

  • This Gizmodo article, which made me deeply, throw-up-in-my-mouth-a-little uncomfortable. I was not aware such a thing existed. And well, different strokes, consenting adults etc., but I have babies you nasty motherfuckers. Also it reminds me that teen culture really is the culture of oppression, because no matter what they do someone will try shame them for it.
  • Gamergate.
  • Chemtrails and Birtherism and 9/11 Trutherism, and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories. I know conspiracy theories existed before the World Wide Web but now True Believers can marshall their “evidence” in nanoseconds and blow up your Facebook comments section.
  • Google, M.D. This is similar to the conspiracy theorizing above (anti-vaxxers love to pull out their Google, M.D.s) But I have a particular beef since I was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, but in between appointments, the nurse called and told me “Congestive Heart Failure.” So I googled that and it was like straight to transplant, which was not helpful. (I’ll live, though, thanks for asking.)
  • Facebook. I mean, I love it, but I kinda hate it.

What are some things you love or hate about the Internet? Let us know in the comments.

John P Sousa is a Digital Content Producer at 301 Digital Media. His Facebook feed infuriates him. He got his MFA in Creative Writing from Trump University. He mostly retweets NBA Memes at @johnpsousa.