Hi, I’m Alison. I like Brooklyn indie rock, eating seasonally, yoga and kale, but my biggest hobby (“hobby”) is reading the internet.
Folks, it’s 2012. By now there’s no denying that the internet is definitely a thing. I’m doing my part by reading as much of it as I can, each and every day. It’s a big job, but I’m up for it, and you can be too by following this simple eight step plan.
Step 1: Get a smart phone.
Sorry Blackberry heads, but a real iPhone/Android/touchscreen phone gives you the screen space you’ll need. If you’re going to read the internet, you can’t just do it when you’re at a computer. If you’re not holding your phone, your hand needs to yearn for it. If you don’t already, you’ll need to live in a walkable city to maximize the time you can spend on your phone. Find an apartment within walking distance of your job. Read your phone on the way to work, on the way to the bar, while you’re waiting in line, while your date is in the bathroom.
Step 2: Use an RSS reader.
I recommend Google Reader, as it is browser-based and syncs easily between your phone, work computer, home computer, tablet, friend’s computer, parents’ computer, internet cafe computer in Barcelona, etc. But really any RSS reader will do. It’s not as pretty as visiting the blogs, but we’re not here to look at pictures, are we? Save that for the moms on Pinterest. We’re here to read. Then it’s time to fill that sucker up. Every blog you run across that looks slightly interesting: subscribe. Any blog that looks boring but could someday have and/or link to interesting content: subscribe. Go to one of your favorite blogs and subscribe. Then start reading the comments. Do the commenters link to their personal blogs? Subscribe to those too. Some of them will be hosted by Tumblr, which means you will need to…
Step 3: Start a Tumblr.
There are over 46 million blogs on this platform. Follow as many as you can. See those little hearts? Click as many of those as you can. Who else has liked that quirky image post of someone’s Twitter joke? They’re a kindred spirit! Follow them too! And follow the bloggers they reblog. If you’re starting to feel guilty about just consuming content and not creating it, once a week reblog a picture of an adorable animal (I prefer baby sloths and hedgehogs). Now you’re a blogger too!
Step 4: Join Twitter.
Now you’ve reached the real source of endless content. Never go more than 10 minutes without checking Twitter, otherwise you’ll miss something. Follow hashtags like #longreads so you can hit up those tl;dr pieces later. Click on every link that looks remotely interesting. Stay on top of the trending topics. Make sure to follow some people from every time zone so there are plenty of fresh tweets to read as soon as you wake up.
Step 5: Look everything up on Wikipedia.
Why use a dictionary to check the spelling of a word when you could look it up on Wikipedia? There you can learn its etymology and historical uses. Oh, this word has Sanskrit roots? Let’s learn about Sanskrit. And then learn about all the languages used in India. Better check out how they sound by watching a few Bollywood videos on youtube, which leads me to…
Step 6: Fall into a YouTube hole.
Sure, it’s not technically “reading”, but videos are a language of the internet. On a good day, one thing leads to another and you look up to realize you’ve spent the last 45 minutes watching videos of goths dancing.
Step 7: Watch tv.
But not just any show. You need to watch tv that is popular with writers on the internet. AMC’s Mad Men and Lena Dunham’s new Girls are good places to start. You’ll want to read multiple posts on each episode so you’re getting analysis from all possible angles. A good rule of thumb is 5 recap posts per episode. To begin, I recommend Richard Lawson’s work at the Atlantic Wire, Videogum, Grantland’s Hollywood Prospectus blog and any recap Max Silvestri writes. If you hit a dry spell, go back and read all of Television Without Pity’s recaps of Friday Night Lights. It goes without saying that you should never watch tv without reading the internet at the same time.
Step 8: Take it to the next level.
Once you feel comfortable integrating these basic steps into your daily life, feel free to add more. The internet is your oyster! Read recipe reviews. Track memes. Follow a color blog. Join Instagram and Foursquare. Spend an hour or two on #whatshouldwecallme. The possibilities are endless.
Congratulations! By building these 8 basic habits you’re well on your way to reading the internet every waking minute. Remember: it’s not an addiction; it’s a lifestyle.
Of course, if you feel the need for a digital Sabbath once in a while, by all means take it. For Lent this year I gave up the internet from 10pm-9am. It was a sacrifice and a struggle, even during the 7 of those hours I was typically sleeping. But the perspective it gave me was beyond value. In the immortal words of Doug Horton, “If you love something let it go free. If it doesn’t come back, you never had it. If it comes back, love it forever.” And good lord do I love reading the internet.