Daily Blog Email
Yesterday, I was told that the “Numa Numa” video turned 12 years old. For reference:
This instantly made me feel old? Why?
Well, first, because I was not a small child when this video was popular 12 years ago—I was 14.
But, the main reason I felt old was because when I watched this video, I had one reaction, “I miss the good ol’ days of the internet,” and only old people say that kind of stuff.
After I said that to myself, I had a sort of internal dialogue in which I debated whether or not I actually do miss the good old days of the internet.
On one hand, I miss videos like Numa Numa, The Ultimate Showdown, and Badger Badger Badger. But, on the other hand, I love that the present-day internet has provided us with things like Amazon two-day shipping and Uber.
After playing mental tennis with myself for half of my lunch yesterday, I came to the conclusion that I do miss the “old internet,” circa 2002-2006, but I wouldn’t trade the current internet for the old one.
Why do I miss the old internet? The chances are, if you were on the internet back then, you do too, and you understand.
I miss the old internet because…
The internet used to be a digital representation of reality. Now, the internet is its own reality. Or, at least, it’s trying to be.
The Numa Numa kid and other “viral” stars of the pre-YouTube and social media days were never trying to “go viral”—”going viral” would have had no meaning when the Numa kid made his video.
Newgrounds, YTMND, and ebaumsworld were all “YouTube before YouTube” and people really just used the sites to host videos or games to share with friends. “Viral” was never a goal, so videos weren’t as gimmicky, I guess you could say.
But, without major social media platforms for people to share content, “viral videos” were usually found in email chains and on message boards instead of Facebook and Good Morning America.
Most viral videos just aren’t charming like they used to be. Some videos still are. The best viral videos are the videos that were never meant to be viral at all like David After Dentist (nearly eight years old, seriously), which was posted to YouTube just for family members.
Watching the Numa Numa video this week made me long for the days the internet was more a representation of reality and less a space for people to create false realities. Of course, the 2004 internet wasn’t perfect, but it did feel more genuine.
This is why the internet doesn’t really feel charming anymore…well, at least part of the reason. Slower loading speeds and gross-looking websites made the old internet feel a bit more like a “small business” in 2004 instead of the “multinational corporation” it feels like today.
The internet lost its charm when it became a source of counterfeit reality instead of a means of sharing actual reality.
Whether it be highly-produced videos manufactured for the sole purpose of “going viral,” fake news that caters to our political persuasions, or other such junk, the 2016 internet allows people to create false realities for themselves in a way that the 2004 internet did not, and it makes me sad.
I am becoming increasingly concerned with what the internet is doing to us, specifically on social media. This is difficult for me because I work in social media and do all I can to help people use it as a force for good.
But, nearly every day, when I see fake news or political rage or ideological tribalism, I become more and more convinced that the internet and social media will end up doing more harm than good.
The consequences the modern internet on our communication and ability to relate to others concern me. It’s about more than just silly videos; it’s about the inability to see others as human.
What do we do?
I don’t know, but, I continue to maintain that it is important that Christians shine the light of the gospel in this increasingly dark virtual space.