The public computers have been catching my eye again. I thought I had seen everything there was to be seen. I thought I had issued my full compliment of blog posts on the nature of what our library public looks at on the internet. But with my eye drawing back to those glowy screens once again it has become clear that there was something I had missed.
At the local library, on the Internet computers, people play simple games obsessively. They shop. They attend to Email. People even occasionally do research on our computers. They watch Korean boy bands. There are cats and GIFs and hobbies and celebrities and hilarious injuries, useful information and endless, endless marketing disguised as entertainment. Most of these things all these people do on the Internet are mundane and familiar. A rare few are strange and compelling. But only recently has it struck me that there is one other very common thing people do on the Internet. It was hiding so fiercely in plain sight that I have gone years without seeing it, but now that I have seen it, I see it everywhere. I never see it spoken of, perhaps because it is not flattering to the Internet, and the Internet is above all most concerned with feathering its own nest, but I have become so aware of it that I am not sure that it isn't the single most common thing people do on the Internet. Here it is.
They stare blankly at the screen at a complete loss.
The oversold promise surrounds them and they have nowhere to go. How does one choose from a million paths?
The loudest wins. We invent interests. We follow where we are told to go.
But sometimes instead we break down and stare into nothingness. We are inscrutable. We disappear between the countless stars.
If staring into nothingness were a website, it would be bigger than Google.