Sunday, December 30, 2012

10 Things I Learned About How I Read the Internet in 2012

1. If you’re ranting, I will skim. I am not interested in vitriol, particularly because I’ve read so much of it that it all sounds the same to me. I want claims, evidence, and information. I can tell when you’re bending facts, and every time you make a leap of logic in order to continue attacking the opponent, my hand is getting closer to closing the tab.

2. If I’m tired or had a long day, and I have to use my scroll button at all in order to get to the point of your post, I will close the tab. More interesting was the discovery that this most frequently occurs on bad blogs and The New Yorker website. At my most generous, I will tab over and return to your work later. I don’t know when stream of consciousness and images became such a problem, but jeezy-creezy, learn to organize information.

3. Hell is somewhere north of Youtube’s comment section.

4. As much as I love long-form journalism, I don’t want to read it off a screen. 2012 was the first year where text on my monitor started to blur from reading too often. Even before eyestrain became a serious health problem, I hated clicking through five or eight pages for a single article. Somehow the digital space has not reproduced the desire to consume great lengths of text, especially not when I’m spending so much time editing my own on that same screen. Will a tablet or Kindle change this? I don’t know. The Kindle does seem gentler on the eyes.

5. List posts are starting to work on me, but in tenuous fashion. Clearly they work enough for me to write one that includes discussion of them. I used to disdain them as the lowest possible thought, but now I’m so immersed in internet culture that I recognize a little of their utility. Now it’s merely any list that has two useless, redundant, boring or common sense items in a row that will get me to ditch out. Maybe I’ve already done so to you.

6. If there is a pop-up ad begging me to sign up for an RSS feed or mailing list, or to LIKE you on Facebook, I will close the tab immediately. You do not throw advertising in my face before I’ve read your content.

7. I don’t need gurus or motivational speakers. Seth Godin is for other people. When these things work for other people, they make me happy because those people are finding satisfaction. When those people try to turn me into a follower, I tune out.

8. Dozens of people will unfollow you if you tweet about trying to find a liver donor for your dying cousin.

9. Dozens of people will retweet you in an effort to find an Alzheimer’s patient who wandered from home.

10. It’s still big a mixed bag. Bring on 2013.


  1. 2015 is less than three hours away here. I trust it to find its own way in.
    I loves this list. I would add for myself that vitriol and humour may, just may, keep me reading. Vitriol, hate and spite on their own will not only have me close the tab, they make make me refuse to come back.

  2. A list I actually read right to the end. Bravo!


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