I am in a state of fear right now. I fear for the lives of my friends, enemies, family, pets and, more importantly (because I'm selfish), I fear for my own life. This is not due to the nearing prospect of nuclear war, or the fact that I'm graduating. I fear the most unholy tandem on earth: Wikipedia and YouTube.
Everyone knows what I'm talking about. You sit down at your computer to get some work done-maybe write a paper that was due yesterday. But, instead of working, you accidentally see the YouTube and Wikipedia icon in your "Favorites" list. Now you're doomed. You click on one or both of them to just browse for a few minutes and before you know it, the day is over and you're horribly screwed.
I can't tell you the number of times that I've wasted an entire day or weekend by sitting around and reading about September 11th conspiracy theories or in-depth coverage of UFO sightings around the world. I would need a NASA super computer to figure out how often I've watched a pointless video entitled "Shut Up Hooker" on YouTube. But sadly, I would only need my finger-and maybe my toes and an abacus-to tell you how often I've opened my books or notes. It can't be a good sign when I, an adult and a soon-to-be college graduate, can't budget my time around two internet Web sites like Wikipedia and YouTube. But, to be fair, the two sites are the giants of the internet.
The amount of information on Wikipedia is absolutely mind-blowing and, much to the dismay of our professors, it's incredibly accurate. You don't even need to be looking to waste time to be sucked into the Web site. I often am fact-checking for stories or reports that I write and find myself clicking on those evil hyperlinks that are embedded within the articles that I'm using. "Well, let's see, I know a lot about Ireland, but I don't know a lot about the IRA, bagpipes and corn beef and cabbage." Don't even get me started on the "Random Article" link-one that was forged by Satan himself (it says so in an article) and meant to doom innocent people into reading about local high schools, turn management and cancelled TV shows.
YouTube is almost exactly the same. With the prices of digital cameras falling, any idiot or slack-jawed yokel can pick one up and film themselves doing just about anything. With the ability to rate these ridiculous videos, I find myself clicking on videos that other people find interesting or funny. Then-much like the evil "Random Article" button, Wikipedia has a list of random videos on the side of the screen to entice you further.
The ability of these two sites to find topics and videos that interest us personally is scary. It's almost like a Wegmans Shopper's Club card. If the ability of a site to waste my time is this good now, I shudder to imagine what it'll be like in 20 or 30 years when I have kids. How the hell am I going to get my kid (who will be doomed with my stupid genes) to study, let alone get away from the computer to engage in sports? My only hope is that they'll evolve the ability to ignore the senseless and random information on the internet, because I sure don't have that ability.