Why Google has made the internet un-fun

Posted by Patrick Reinhart on March 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Does anyone else feel like the internet just isn’t fun anymore and that Google is the main culprit?

Ever since I was a kid, I have been on the internet.  I am not sure what started it, I believe it was my father, brother and I looking for hints on how to beat a certain part in Kings Quest or Hero’s Quest, but for whatever the reason, I have been connected for quite some time.

The IRC network was a fun thing as you could easily make fun of someone and then immediately change your handle to be someone completely new.  Sure the network notified everyone that you made the change, but most were distracted by making fun of someone and changing their handle, so it was all good.

Then came AOL Homepage and GeoCities, which taught me how to do basic HTML and set up a webpage.  Sure all I did was put band logos that I liked one on top of each other, but it still was teaching me the basic ins and outs of the web and how it functioned.

It was fun, it was carefree, and when I eventually started my first online business I learned something that I hadn’t thought of before:  It could be turbo profitable.

Still, even with all of the headaches that came with running a business, having it on the Internet and learning about SEO and testing different tactics was a fun and enlightening experience.  I remember the days (and nights) that I would spend sitting in my friend’s mother’s basement coding our site and placing keywords in strategic places to get them to rank higher in Google.  It was challenging, but fun and rewarding, like playing Zelda.

Then something happened.  It feels like a few months ago I was blissfully running around Hyrule slicing and dicing Tektites, and now I am on the hoverbike stage in Battle Toads, chaotically holding on for dear life and praying to make it to the next stage.

It’s been a harrowing transition to say the least.  I look back at what my job used to be and what it has become over the last 10 years, and I have come to this conclusion: Google has made the internet zero fun.

I used to love turning on the computer and diving into different pages and trying to figure out how to make them rank higher and gain more visibility.  It was something to get up for in the morning, something that made you pour that extra cup of coffee at 5pm and keep chugging along.

Now I turn on my computer in the morning and stare at blogs speaking of end times and what fundamental feature the search engine giant has taken away from me while I slept.

I want to clarify something at this point in the article (rant).  This is not me saying that I am angry or bitter towards Google in any way about this.  While they are not many SEO’s favorite group of people (and vice versa), they have been trying to keep their algorithm clean, even when it straight up pisses everybody off.  It’s hard to criticize an entity for trying to make their product better; I just wish they would find a way to do it without destroying the little guy.

That’s really where all of this is stemming from.  The internet just isn’t fun anymore for the guy trying to start a new site who doesn’t have more than the cost of hosting and design in his pocket.  For example, my brother and I run a site called cheesycorporatelingo.com (shameless plug) that we have poured countless time and resources into.  We love it, but running it has become an uphill battle due to all of Google’s algorithm changes.  We have seen our traffic rise considerably, to getting cut in half because they have deemed our site unworthy because of its infancy and lack of ‘quality’ links (whatever those are).  We are the perfect example of the people who are getting most affected by these changes, the middle-class of the internet, the guys with full-time jobs, trying to do something fun with their spare time.

The problem is, you just can’t do that anymore.  There used to be room for both businesses and the everyman on the Internet, but Google has taken that away and in my opinion, has made the internet an extension of Wall Street.  It’s all business, all the time.  No dogs allowed.

The middle-class of the internet are guys like us.  We don’t have 20k a month to be pumping into Google to get paid traffic and don’t have the time to write 25 blog posts a month in hopes that our thumbnail will pop up when somebody types in a word that relates to our site.  Sure, I could spend my time building links, although that practice will most likely not exist in a year (read my article about the death of link building here), but I would rather be writing the content for the site than worrying about that crap.

And that’s the real problem.  The crap.  The headaches that surround running a site that Google has introduced to try and combat spammers who have manipulated their algorithm to the point where they felt this counterattack was necessary.  That’s why the internet isn’t fun anymore.

So is this just complaining?  Am I the old guy sitting on his porch yelling at kids to get off my lawn while shaking my cane in the air?  Maybe, I don’t know. I’m only 31 and I gotta admit that sounds pretty great.

What I do know is that I used to enjoy the web a lot more, and now I have a sudden urge to pull the plug and go live in a cabin in the woods.  Somewhere Google can’t find me (I am aware this place doesn’t exist).

All I wanted for Christmas was for everyone to start enjoying their time on the web again.  To write interesting things and funny jokes again, instead of playing to the whims of a math equation that has way more power than it should.

All I wanted was for the internet to be fun again.

All I got was a rock.

3 Responses to “Why Google has made the internet un-fun”

  1. Roger Casella says:

    All I see now are young men that sound on youtube like they spend WAY too much time in front of a screen. It's in the dumbed down way they express themselves. It's in their speech and the way they sway tiredly from thought to thought, the few of your own that come out here and there when they're not just regurgitating information, trying to sound smarter than they actually are which only makes them seem insipid. THAT'S SUPER UNHEALTHY. I suggest they get out and BREATHE a lot more often. Give that brain some oxygen. I'm not looking to get anyone upset with what I'm saying. I just can't help but notice that they're young and should be a lot more vibrant for their age. Let technology be an extension of your total being, not an anchor. Back in summer of 2001 when the internet was hot (yahoo chat, msn, aol, early days of myspace) I would spend a couple hours a night talking to chicks I was gonna meet the next day cause that's just how it was then. After which I'd play a quick emulated n64 game (and LOVED the fact that it only took a couple years to get that bad boy emulated at full speed on my 800Mhz AMD CPU 64MB RAM PC which was top of the line in those days). Those n64 games had shit for graphics but it was the charm of those shit graphics and the fun factor that made it great as a just before bed reward for an active fun filled day. NSYNC, Nelly, Blink 182 and Crazy Town ruled the airwaves (HEY, so what if you think it's cheesy), the club scene was a wild ride, and the internet opened up the whole world to me through that little 56k modem. I met a chick out in British Columbia and went on a road trip from Boston to Vancouver that I will never forget just to get to her, win or lose. The road trip alone was worth the effort, and even though it didn't work out, I LOVED my stay in BC. All I see nowadays are guys in their early 20's wasting away in front of a screen with no real plan of action for where that real life open world connection will take them. Here I sit today, 35 years old, typing this rant from my work PC. I'm married and have a little one, and I long for those two back to back summers - 2000 and 2001 - for which I was 21 and 22 respectively. Please readers, if you're in your early 20's to early 30's and bored with the net but still somehow hooked, do yourself a favor; get out and ENJOY LIFE!! Don't feel that you're to blame. As I said, and as the OP said, the internet WAS more fun! It was more of a natural extension of the user than the anchor it is today. But it's up to us to turn that around somehow! It's not just a psychological dynamic we humans have of glorifying the past. Fact over opinion, the internet 10+ years ago was what it was meant to be. It's up to us to look back at what it was and rebuild upon that old blueprint, at least as a separate online community. If Big Brother Google doesn't mind, that is. Even if they do, we are alot bigger than Google.

  2. jpop says:

    Yes the internet was way more fun in the 90s, til about mid 2000's. Not the same anymore... Back then it was mostly geeks on the internet, so you had kind of a counter culture vibe to computing. We ran our own irc servers in our houses, etc. etc. There were pc shops everywhere and you could just build everything from scratch. The internet had a geek/DIY ethic to it. Now everything is big business and corporate on the internet. That is why it's not fun anymore. People are also into flashy stuff like having the most expensive iphones, gold plated, etc. I worked in IT also and quit that in 2009, and was also working in the SF Bay Area. The party was over, it's been taken over by the same people who used to be accountants, mba's and finance people, along with big media.

  3. jpop says:

    PS, I was attracted to working in IT b/c of the geek culture, not programming or server admin itself... It was just a natural extension of myself, then all the project managers and consultants came, all of wall street came, it became just like working at some lab, everybody was obsessed with money as well. Us, the geeks, were just trying to have a good time and connect to people through crappy webpages, IRC, Newsgroups, gaming, etc. Like the commenter above, I also met several people online with same interests, that is much harder if near impossible now, b/c everybody and their Grandmother is online...

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