McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Don’t worry, it’s not a bottomless pit of procrastinatory doom.
Mike Donovan | Tuesday, November 1, 2016
It’s 1 a.m. at Club Hes. You’ve been in the intellectual trenches for several hours now, toiling away as the shadow of the coming exam looms over your stress-ridden head. You contemplate a study break — some relaxing and mindless activity to grant reprieve — but quickly turn the idea down. Netflix, YouTube and the milieu of social media platforms at your fingertips offer an enticingly convenient hiatus to the unassuming fool, but you are no amateur. You know all too well that these internet goodies are really the components of a sinister technological black hole. They trap their unwitting prey in a swirl of malicious click bait and pernicious phrases like, “The next episode plays in … .” Once you enter the void, there’s no hope of escape. So where do you turn? Is there a path to rejuvenation that doesn’t end in an anxiety attack?
Fortunately, yes. A wandering and anxious bookworm can always find solace in the refreshing prose of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Granted, it’s a humor website. Like College Humor, reruns of “The Office,” and absurd Snapchat stories, the site intends to put you in a writhing fit of joyous hysteria. McSweeney’s, however, delivers its humor in a high-brow lit mag sort of way. It’s a place where you can simultaneously experience the comic satisfaction of watching a great sitcom and the glorious smugness of reading a New Yorker think piece.
The site’s founder — man, myth and legend Dave Eggers — takes pride in showcasing aspiring writing talent and unique comic perspectives. Every realm of the literary and cultural world is fair game for his young writers. Colin Nissan, for instance, took the site to new heights with his delicate musings on the nature of fall in “It’s Decorative Gourd Season M————.” Another brilliant social critic, Mike Lacher, shook the world with “I’m Comic Sans, A——!” — a weighty examination of prejudice in the field of word processing.
McSweeney’s even publishes articles with names that don’t need to be censored. When Jennifer Simonson seamlessly connected the art of film with the struggle of the young writer in her riveting piece “Lines from the Princess Bride that Double as Comments on Freshman Composition Papers” and Sarah Layden captured the nuances of thoughtful songwriting in “Seven Women on His Mind: The ‘Take it Easy’ Ladies Tell All,” they did so without titular cuss words.
If you’re more politically minded, you may want to explore the broad range of liberal viewpoints that McSweeney’s has to offer. Patrick Rielly’s “I’m a Social Justice Warrior, and I’m Here to Take Your Guns” boldly exposed the true consequences of our complicated government policy, and Peter McCleery’s “Casual Sexism Fridays” made a valiant effort to solve the conflict between women and systemic injustice through compromise.
Lengthwise, most McSweeney’s articles contain between 700 and 1000 words — short enough so they don’t waste too much time and long enough to rule out your willingness to read more than two. There are no multimedia links, illustrated lists or generic images of tomfoolery to draw you further away from the task at hand than you already are, just a lot of good words.
I recommend you read some of these good words. Send them to your friends, your enemies and people you don’t know. Spread the good words around like the autumn spirit. You may end up starting a small-scale internet revolution. (Disclaimer: The preceding sentence is excessively dramatic and highly unrealistic.)
Get back to studying, you silly goose.