Withering Glance: Web surfing for good and ill

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK
  • Star Tribune
  • December 10, 2011 - 4:27 PM

RN: I think I'm in need of an intervention.

CP: It's that black-tar Internet, isn't it? Your partner and I have hatched a plan to get you off it. I can help him just as soon as I finish catching up with my Twitter feed. And can you believe the newest nude-modeling dustup that surfaced at What could Italian Vogue have been thinking?

RN: It's a narcotic, that social media. I might have to pull the plug on Facebook, which has become my online equivalent of the brownies at Wilde Roast Cafe. Both are Kryptonite to my otherwise ironclad self-discipline.

CP: Just when I think I've had enough buzz, up pops a story about a new site that aggregates candid shots of hunky guys riding the tube in London.

RN: Uh-oh, trouble.

CP: Which, of course, links to a copycat site based aboard New York's subway trains. Suddenly, it's 1 a.m. on a school night.

RN: I rue the day our friend Bill e-mailed me the URL to "The Gays of Daytime," a blog which dutifully posts the clips of gay characters appearing on an international roster of soaps. Now I'm hooked on the love-triangle travails of Edwin, Lucas and Ron on "Goede Tijden Slechte Tijden," and I don't comprehend so much as a syllable of Dutch. But I'm learning. Thank goodness for subtitles.

CP: My translation app says that title means "Good Times, Bad Times." Which describes my view of a well-intentioned life oft- derailed by Web browsing.

RN: Amen, sister. A recent study by the Pew Research Center said that more than half of all American adults ages 18 to 29 go online "for no particular reason except to have fun or pass the time." Earth-shattering. What did Pew think we were doing, using the Web as a digital Dewey Decimal System?

CP: For each time I've looked up something weighty and meritorious, there are five searches on things like "Ryan Gosling's facial hair" and "schnauzers in sweaters."

RN: Other than keeping up with politics on Andrew Sullivan's "The Dish," my Web time could be sponsored by the makers of Doritos, Ding Dongs and Mountain Dew.


CP: I know. My browsing can leave me feeling like that kid high on junk food, cutting a nonsense path from house to yard to playground in "The Family Circus." Call me e-combobulated.

RN: Did I race through a few chapters of that riveting new Joan Mitchell biography yesterday afternoon? No, I fell into a rabbit hole of "The Good Wife" recaps and a heaping helping of celebrity trash on the hilarious and foul-mouthed

CP: The first step, Rick, is admitting you are powerless over your touch screen.

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