The Value of Pointless Websites

By Victoria Chiu, Art by Phoebe

 It’s true that you can find absolutely anything on the Internet. With Rule 34, the vast unexplored depths of Tumblr, and the Wild Wild West of 4chan—plus about a billion and five questionable Craigslist ads—how could you not? But the classic weird stuff one might find on a typical Internet excursion ain’t what this is all about. I’m talking about the things on the Net that you never thought existed and thought never needed to exist. Well. Think again, mes anges.

Don’t know what I mean? Fantasmical—you’re in for a real treat. We should begin this journey together with a bonding experience. Want to look at some purple on a screen for a while together? Like, just the color purple. No, there isn’t anything else—this is a no-strings-attached situation. Why does this website exist? I have no idea! But IT IS AWESOME. And it’s just one of many sites out there that just doesn’t seem to have a rhyme or reason to its existence. There are websites for watching someone’s lawn grow in real time, looking at an edited looping .GIF of Oprah giving her audience the gift of a swarm of bees, and staring at a static photo of an American dime. You can look at the best dinosaur ever (Stegosaurus rulez), give yourself a headache from the world’s worst webpage, or wait for hours upon hours to get onto a site that only allows one person to view it at a time. They’re absolutely, positively pointless. Black holes into which minutes and hours disappear. They’ve got no practical use to anyone, anywhere whatsoever. And I love them all.

Pointless websites have a special sort of “stick it to the man” vibe to them that I’ve always adored. When I’m out and about living life, I’m always being told to work hard and stop procrastinating and get ‘er done, and I’m chastised about how I spend way too much time on the Internet when I could be doing way more productive things with my time. Well, guess what? If I’m going to be wasting my time, you’re damn well sure I’m going to be doing the best job of whittling away my precious hours you could ever imagine. Balancing school, work, friends—all the pressure sometimes makes me want to put my to-do list off out of spite, and I can think of no better way to do this than to browse all the crappiest stuff my Wi-Fi allows me to connect to*.

The blessing of these websites is that they’re a way to mess around and enjoy all the low, low, low-quality things the Internet has to offer with reckless abandon without having to think critically about what you’re doing—you can just let go and be free. Besides, you’re looking at something so weird and ridiculous it almost loops around to the other side and becomes respectable. Despite what anyone might say, there’s a real need for websites like this. When you’re tired and burnt out and just done with being a hard-working and responsible human, trypap.com is there to remind you of the simple pleasures of considering what your hypothetical in-laws might say while criticizing your password choices. Because damnit, sometimes that’s the best way to get through it all.

If I’m having a bad day and I’m being pressured to do more, do better, and be more than I already am—if I’m feeling totally inadequate and crushed by the weight of all the expectations and responsibilities—I can lose myself for a while in the levity of the Internet and laugh at the blatant uncalled-for-ness of a website where you can slap an unsuspecting man with an eel. I can stop, take a breath, and chortle with abandon without fear of judgment or worrying that I should be spending my time better oh god I have xyz to do and I should be doing those things and AGHHH! There’s no beating around the bush with these sites: You’re here to envelop yourself in a cocoon of procrastination and you’re unashamedly loving it. When I surf these webpages, I can intentionally halt the world around me and indulge in something completely frivolous, and it gives me the opportunity to do some inner recharging. It’s like a far more convenient version of jumping into a pile of autumn leaves: You’re not really accomplishing anything productive, you’re being the opposite of the Responsible Person you’re usually told to be, and you’re going to have to make up for it later, but it’s cathartic, and it’s totally worth it.

The Internet gets a terrible rep from The Elder Generation for being full of useless, brain-rotting trash. And while I think that reputation is largely undeserved and unfairly writes off all the parts of the Net that are full of amazing and wonderful people et plus, I have to concede that there is a lot of complete and utter shit to be found across the interwebz. But you’ve gotta have the less-than-stellar to highlight the incredible…and sometimes you’ve gotta surf the web for a page that lets you wave around a wiggly black blob at high speeds for a COLOR EXPLOSION when you’re having an off day (warning for bright colors and flashing animation for those with photosensitive epilepsy).

I’m going to get really Twilight Zone-y here and suggest that maybe there is a point to these so-called pointless websites. Besides the strange release these figurative leaf piles offer, there’s also an indescribable pull that these websites exude—something that keeps me coming back for more. No matter how stupid and useless I know they really are, I just can’t seem to do without them, and I know that a ton of other people out there think the same way. There must be some deeper meaning, some more meaningful reason. But, meh, these websites’ very existences encourage you to, for once, cast off self-reflection and analysis and bask in the glory of their shallow face values. Sometimes that’s what we need, after all.

So I’ll continue to squander my time searching the galaxy for untapped cyber resources, and know that no matter what that grumpy old lady on the bus says, there is a method to all this “pointless” madness. Surf away shamelessly, my babes!

*Okay, I can think of about a thousand better ways to waste your time than looking at all these shitty websites. But that’s kind of the point here, anyway.

You can view Victoria’s personal blog here and her Tumblr here.

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