You might want to sit down and take a deep breath before reading the rest of this sentence, because by the time you reach the little punctuation mark at the end, it means that you have successfully connected to the Internet. Yes, I’m totally serious. You’re using it right now. The Information Superhighway. Cyberspace. The military computer network formerly known as. The World Wide Web. Sort of like The Matrix, but a bit less Keanu Reeves and a lot more Laurence Fishburne.
Of course it’s OK to be excited.
The first thing you should know is that your amazing new Inter-majiggy doesn’t really have much of a user manual. Well technically it does, but the current version consists of about one hundred million pages, loosely scattered over the world, decorated with animated cats, and written in languages designed for machines to read. Sounds awesome right?
Well it is, and that’s why we’re here.
So before you go strapping yourself back into that Gamma Wave Stimulator you bought from the nice man on the telly, here’s your very own handbook. It was made especially for you, and it’s yours to keep foreverever. Once we’ve covered the basics, you’ll be chewing bandwidth faster than we can email pictures of unusual testicles to the same Hotmail address you’ll later spend years begging Microsoft to cancel; but we’re jumping ahead a little bit now. Take as much time as you need, and we can get started whenever you reach the next full stop. See? You’re getting the hang of this already.
Like a sackful of chickens.
The Internet is like a sackful of chickens. It’s cruel. It’s complicated. It’s awkward to conceal at work. Some people would be far better off not knowing anything about it, and to stick your face inside while pouting like a forlorn vagina would be desperately unwise. Yes, the Internet can be used to whip up an outstanding pine nut meatloaf, but no matter how outstanding, meatloaf never tastes the same once you’ve had your lips pecked off by a thousand angry beaks of vengeance.
The world is not connected to you.
You are connected to the rest of the world. The difference between the two might seem subtle, but that’s because it is. Even really smart people get confused thinking about it. Don’t be like the really smart people who get confused, just know that the Internet doesn’t give two half fucks about the name of your family station wagon, that really clever thing you said to some guy at the shops, or the astonishing firmness of your newborn’s most recent stool. If you find this difficult to accept, by all means go right ahead and build yourself a personal web page. People all over the world will snidely smile themselves to sleep at night because of your selfless martyrdom. You will be the Patron Saint of Why The Fuck Would Anyone Ever Do That Dot Com, and acolytes will worship you from afar.
It’s probably your fault.
Unless you have reliable experience, information, or expert advice to suggest otherwise, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re to blame. Whether you clicked the wrong button, didn’t read the message, or collected something untoward at dirtymanbags dot com, it really doesn’t matter. Fact is, you’re not going to make friends and influence people with the old ‘my computer broke itself’ routine. People know you’re lying. You know you’re lying. People even know that you know you’re lying, so just come clean and maybe somebody helpful will stop thinking about the weekend for long enough to listen.
People on the Internet don’t like you.
Look, we get that you’re fun to be around and everything, but the Internet is a pretty big place. Sooner or later, you’re going to discover that some of the nearly 2.1 billion people online think you’re a complete wanker and wouldn’t dribble piss on you if they had a leaky bladder stapled to their face. You may also discover that these same people are incapable of typing using lower case letters, spout slogans popular with white supremacists, and only became your Facebook friend because they wanted to bang your older sister. Whatever the case, don’t let it upset you. These things happen, and it helps us grow as people.
Welcome to The Future.
Well, that covers the basics, but seeing as you’ve made it all the way to the bottom of the page, we’ve added this super-special epilogue so you can show off to all your friends. You can totally read it as many times as you like, but right now we’re going to travel through time in an eighties model sports car. Yes, seriously. Watch your fingers on the gull-wing door. Great.
Here in the future, there have been some changes. Cell phones are digestible. California is a monarchy. Paris Hilton was converted into a hologram for improved depth. And… you’re totally awesome on the Interwebs! That’s right, a future version of the very same you that’s reading this guide right now. Being a helpful sort of person, you devote a lot of time to those less informed than yourself in getting their amazing future computers working just right. Sometimes, after helping those who are particularly demanding, ungrateful, or downright rude, you write condescending, passive-aggressive articles about how to use the Internet.
Sucks to be you.