Somewhere along the way something when horribly wrong. The first glimpse we all had of the decline of humanity was the MTV show, The Real World. In 1992 the show was an interesting novelty. The "cast members" seemed like real people. They didn't seem to be all that self conscious of their own celebrity (until afterwards). I remember that a year after that first iteration of the show the cast was appearing in ads for a car dealership here in Michigan. And of course, anybody my age probably remembers how Eric Nies went on to become a big star on MTV with shows like The Grind. Reality programming spawned fame. Big mistake.
The first time I noticed the peoples' need to turn the minutia of their everyday lives into entertainment via the intertubes was when I first stumbled across Anacam. Anna Voog was the first legitimate "cam girl." Her 24 hour web cam started as an art project and continues to this day mostly unchanged. Click on Anacam.com and you still see the webcam in her apartment just like you could in 1997. In a lot of ways her online "journal" was a companion blog before there were blogs. Back then shoddy web cams and telephone modems made the whole experience buggy, slow and a little weird. By the early 00's so many web cams had hit the web that "cam girl" came to mean porn, and legit artists like Voog were becoming hard to find over the clutter of the web and newcomers gunning for celebrity like Tila Tequila. Everybody wanted their own slice of the Reality TV fame, and the web was going to give it to them.
Now don't get me wrong. I love the Intertubes and I love me the blogs too. There's some good stuff out there. For instance, sites like fatcyclist.com are a lot better than your average blog. Bloggers like Drunkcyclist.com offer a point of view and a perspective that is refreshing AND unnerving. My point here is that "reality" internet content is good when it has a freakin' point to it. Just like most magazines suck, most blogs suck too. There are a handful of newspapers with editorial pages worth reading, like The New York Times. But there are a lot more that suck, like The Grand Rapids Press. There is only one Ana Voog in the world because there are only so many good ideas out there, and most people don't have them. The difference with today versus yesterday is that the the web allows people to pretend that their ideas are good.
Which leads me to this group of lame ass turds I first stumbled upon at bikesnobnyc.
I don't know what's more annoying, hipsters wearing the word "gloaming" on their sleeves or the idea that going to Europe with a backpack and a bicycle is an original enough idea to create a multimedia site around it. What started with The Real World almost two decades ago has gotten all wrapped up with hipsterism. And the result is countless Youtube videos exposing the fact that hipsters are the worst type of pathetic posers.
The fact that a couple of suburbanite morons are recording their upper middle class "holiday" in Europe is about as insipid as the fact that these NYU students think that shopping at Urban Outfitters and wearing skinny jeans is changing gender relationships and transforming the world. Reality TV gave everybody the idea that anybody is interesting. Everybody is a celebrity. On top of that the internet and modern technology helped create a potpourri of modern pop culture where everybody talks about "meaning" in their style and life choices but nothing really has any meaning. Meaning is fame. Meaning is being number one in Youtube views. Meaning is being the next Eric Nies.
Oh the humanity! What to do? It's like the internet needs a bullshit filter.
By the time MTV got around to filming the The Real World in Chicago's Wicker Park the locals and neighborhood activists were primed to go apeshit crazy.. It seems that the reality TV world has come full circle. So much so that the last cast of The Real World went into it knowing that they had to deal with haters:
"The Real World: Brooklyn" cast-members believe it's a real shame people are already judging them.
The show debuts on Jan.7, so America has not yet met them. And even before they had set foot in Red Hook in August to film the show, local residents were already harping on the negative images of seasons' past: sex, drinking and public rowdiness.
"We'd hear, 'Oh, it's Fake World. You guys suck,'" said roommate Scott, a 23-year-old personal trainer and model from New Hampshire, who is one of the eight "RW" guys and girls (yes, it's eight this season).
"This one guy in a bar said we were a virus," Scott said. "So I walked up to him and said, 'Really?' You don't know who I am."
I can only pray that in the near future the same backlash that now plagues The Real World will somehow manifest itself online. It's as if the internet needs a Critical Mass to remind everybody how pointless most internet traffic is. Or maybe these days it would have to be a Flash Mob.
There are plenty of great things to find out there on the web. Sometimes virtual reality serves up an interesting slice of actual reality. I'll give you a great alternative to the Albion Gloaming idiots. Check out Where Are You Go, a flick debuting at this year's Bicycle Film Festival if you want to see a truly interesting bike trip.