Category Archives: internet

Almost Virtual

Don’t get this week’s new Dustinland comic wrong — I think virtual reality is super cool and I really do want it to work and be awesome. But I tried it twice and both times I felt disoriented for about half an hour afterwards. And that was just after 15-30 minutes of use.

Maybe it treats different people differently, just like sea sickness. Or maybe it’s just something your brain has to get used to. Let’s hope that’s the case. I just worry that essentially fooling your brain may have major negative long term effects. But I guess we’ll find out soon! #progress

Staying With The Times

My latest Dustinland comic is about social media. And hey, that’s how I promoted it. But it’s really more of a commentary about people and trends. That’s what’s ultimate underlying the strip. How we’re always chasing what’s hot and never catching up, even when the hottest thing is something we already did many years ago.

Technology or not, some things never change.

The 6 Stage of Dead Phone Battery Grief

As I say in this week’s Dustinland comic, when your phone dies and you’re not in the position to recharge it, at first you panic. But eventually you accept it, and at that point you are finally alive again. No email or texts to harass you. No Instagram or other time wasting social platforms or apps to distract you. Just life. Slow and beautiful. The moment. Be in it. Enjoy it. One day we will surely all be interconnected cyborgs, or living in a post apocalyptic wasteland. Either way, enjoy your rare moments of life without a phone. You may become more fleeting than you could imagine.

Generation Wi-Fi: Kids and Tech

What I cover in this week’s Dustinland comic is a really complicated issue. Kids and technology. The debate has been going on for decades now, and it only gets more and more intense as technology becomes an increasingly pervasive part of our lives. It’s really tricky as a parent, but ultimately I would imagine there’s only so long you can fight it. My child is still pretty small, but I know people with older kids, and I see how it is. Hey, social media is even part of school these days. And people are making six figures playing video games professionally.

Where this all leads me is that in a broader sense, we’re really becoming cyborgs—and is that such a bad thing? But that’s a topic for a whole different comic…

11 Literature Classics Retitled As Linkbait

I’ve hated the Buzzfeeding of the Internet since before there was a Buzzfeed. I remember working for Cracked.com in the early days when they had first relaunched, and every time I did something for them, they came back to me and said it had to be expanded into the form of a list. This was many years ago. And I argued with them. And guess what—they were right. Lists work. People love them. LOVE them. In this A.D.D. world of infinite content, people want little tidbits of entertainment, fast and simple. And that’s what they get from Buzzfeed, Cracked, Huffpo, etc… Not to say there aren’t some well-thought out pieces of truly entertaining content on these sites. It’s just… well, it depresses me that this sort of psychological trickery is so effective. It makes it seems like humans are robots—easily hacked.

Oh but anyway, this week’s Dustinland comic is inspired by all of that. I could do it forever, honestly. It was hard to stop at 11. Maybe I’ll do a sequel if this one blows up and I get a zillion hits. Whatevs. Internets. I mean, because Internets.

The Power of Technology

Every day I ride the NYC subway to and from work. And every day I see people using their phones for the stupidest purposes. Mostly mind-numbing games. Really, it’s incredible how many full grown adults spend an hour or two a day matching shapes and colors or running down a track chasing after coins. You’ve got this device in your hand with almost limitless potential. It connects you to boundless knowledge. Fascinating perspectives from around the world. But nope, lets connect shiny squares and circles. And that’s what this week’s Dustinland comic is about.

How to be Popular on Instagram

I’m relatively new to Instagram, so perhaps this week’s Dustinland is a bit late to a subject other people have already touched on. Or maybe it’s totally original. Either way, I actually love Instagram and I’m not trying to poop on it. It’s just fun to find trends and patterns that people seem to obsess over—or really ways people game the system. I feel like everything about the Internet / social / mobile today is about gaming the system. “Best practices.” Tricks to get more followers. Maybe I’m just too cynical but it seems like for so many people, the fun is not in the doing but in the receiving of approval. I’ve touched on this before, and I’ll probably touch on it again, maybe because I feel the pull of vindication just as much as anyone else does. Otherwise I’d be drawing comics in a sketch book instead of posting them online, right?

Online Exposure

So, clearly in this week’s comic I am making fun of Buzzfeed, but I must admit, I don’t ever go to that site and they’ve never stolen my content. Some other big sites have though, and I think it’s all the same schtick. It’s not “stealing” if they give you attribution. That’s the theory. And, you know, of course exposure to a wider audience is great. The problem is that a very tiny percentage of these people will ever click through the links that make up these lists. Come on, you’re busy looking at “The 29 most interesting squirrels of the first half of 2013,” there’s no way you’re going to have the patience to learn more about one specific post on the list.

I will say though, it’s kind of a different topic, but it’s frustrating to see people call the Buzzfeed guy a genius. I mean, sure, he is a genius at making money but I think the Internet is full of sites that just aggregate pop culture references and memes and little tidbits that pander to the lowest common denominator… sites that gather rather than create. These sites know how to make money and make things go viral but it’s not art. It’s nothing new. No one gains anything from it. It’s just quick blurts of stuff, the equivalent of old school email FW: FW: FW: FW: chain letter often times. Meh, enough ranting. I think you know what I mean.

PS Most of these sites are super ugly as well. Just sayin.

Like This Comic

Like I said in this week’s comic, of course the Internet is a great thing—really one of the best things ever, an I mean that quite literally. But still, there is a sort of anxiety it has unleashed upon us. The more we share, the more we are constantly checking back to see if people agree or respond. And when they don’t we wonder why. Then we try harder.

A lot of people might not agree with this. They might say, “Hey, I share online with my friends because it’s fun. I don’t sit there worrying who will retweet me.” And they might actually believe that. But deep inside, they do care. Otherwise they wouldn’t post. That’s the thing—why share something if you aren’t concerned with the opinion of others? And caring requires effort. Sharing requires putting yourself out there to be judged. This is all stressful. Little tiny moments of stress throughout the day. That’s what many of us are doing to ourselves with all this sharing.

Just think about show and tell. What if you came to school, brought your favorite toy, stood in front of the class, showed and telled, and then no one cared. No one paid attention, no one asked a question, no one talked about it after. You’d be one sad kid. That’s what I’m talking about here.