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Next To Nothing
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Back when the internet wasn’t the grind that it has become, I loved how stupid and pointless it was.

As a kid, I loved to sneak downstairs, and log onto the AOL chatrooms – it seemed illicit, even salacious, and something to be kept from my parents. They didn’t get a commodore 64 for this kind of foolishness.

It had the same thrill of watching “USA Up all Night” or “Benny Hill” or almost any late night tv show – the kind where all the commercials were only for phone sex lines or suicide prevention PSA’s.
I miss the days when TV was as trashy as the old gritty New York depicted in seventies movies. The days when the channels would sign off around three in the morning.

It definitely felt like something I shouldn’t be doing, like a heroine in a horror movie, who plays with an Ouija board by themselves despite being warned how dangerous it is.

I liked the excitement , not trusting the internet very much – it was like playing Bloody Mary, tempting what might bubble up from the depths – I just assumed everyone I was chatting with was lying about their age, and gender – lying pretty much everything. I assumed that everyone on AOL chat was a seedy character, who had devious intentions.

There was something thrillingly unreliable about it. Now a days, I mostly use the internet to let google correct my spelling, or to see where a movie is streaming. It is weird how unsuspicious I have gotten. Any weirdo or freak could be posting, regardless of their experience spelling words. Back then I imagined the big worldly cities across the globe were teeming with weirdos lurking in the chat rooms.

When I was in college I temped at Texas Instruments, in an insanely easy, insanely stupid job. I was essentially coding calculators to communicate in different languages.
It sounds fancy and sophisticated but no ; it was taking a word document of commands or comments the calculator might say in Japanese or in Finnish, and then cutting and pasting them into the program.
It literally only took me about an hour. But the computer programmers would tell me to check it, or ask if I was really done – it was very easy to see that they wanted more time to work on some other project, and were using the temps as a way to excuse their slowness – I imagined them saying “we would have such and so done, if it didn’t take the temps so long to get such and so done” .
I wasn’t used to cubical life yet, but knew enough to know that doing a job efficiently and well was only punished with more soul crushing work.

I would spend two thirds of the my day playing on Yahoo. I tried at first to sketch or draw, but that was smashed down pretty quickly, so the best way to avoid being busted was to sit looking at the glowing screen. Back then Yahoo had a section called Useless Pages. A collection of “quirky” and pointless web pages. One was a website devoted only to experiments involving Twinkies – exploring uninvestigated topics ignored in lame stream press like does a Twinkie conduct electricity ? How big can it expand in a microwave ? How water proof are they ?
I also liked a site called the museum of religious intolerance, and there was a database about post apocalypse tropes in movies.

I found a really creepy blog called “The Loser Who Lives Upstairs from Me”.

In it the blogger laments about how the dude who lives upstairs from him is a “pathetic loser”. Most of the blog consists of compiling “evidence” of what a weirdo… how he has no friends, or life. As the blog goes on, it becomes evident that the writer’s obsessive documenting is creating a pretty intense story. He would write long excessive posts about how many times the dude upstairs would wake up in the night and walk around, or how often he would vacuum the floor or how he obviously had no friends visiting him. Each post seemed to unintentionally highlight how much a weirdo the blogger was. If he was observing how much the guy living upstairs from him had no social life, then it is safe to assume the same about him. My grandma pinkie used to say ” when you’re spreading around sunshine, you’re bound to get a little on yourself”.

It felt like I was watching rear window or something – I would wonder if this was fiction . I thought it probably was but then again, who knows.

I can’t believe I was paid to read this sort of stuff.

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