Without equating or taking advantage of several unrelated and heartbreaking events — the end of the Awl and the Hairpin, 2016’s shuttering of the Toast, the destruction of Gawker the consolidation of much of our media diets behind a handful of algorithmically-served feeds, and so on — I’ve been thinking constantly about this excellent piece from two years ago by Alex Balk. Appropriately enough, it was published in the Awl:
Remember how the Internet used to be good? If you’re below a certain age you do not. Sorry. It must be awful to hear old people always going on about how the Internet once brought things other than pain, despair and a self-loathing so refined that its shame is only surpassed by the way the very idea of diving into the Internet’s bottomless well of sewage sickens you even as you leap, which you do each day despite of the vomitty feeling it inspires before, during and after. Just take my word for it, young people, there was a time when the Internet was a thing you were excited to be a part of. […]
I don’t know how accurate this is, but it certainly feels right — perhaps even more so as of late than it did when it was published.