If you own a computer and have access to the Internet, odds are you have a guilty pleasure or two. No, I’m not talking about online porn or gambling sites. I’m talking about Web sites that have nothing to do with work or school, sites that you bookmark and visit often, maybe too often.
You tell yourself you’re just going to click around for a few minutes and then you’ll move on to serious work. An hour later you’re still there, chuckling to yourself and forwarding the most notable items to everyone in your address book.
My husband claims he has no guilty pleasures. He insists all of his Internet surfing falls under the category of "research." Yeah, right.
For a long time, my guilty pleasure was LOL Cats. It features captioned photos of cats and kittens. The first one I pulled up today showed the image of a leaping cougar. The caption read: "This is the image of himself your cat has in mind as he attacks your bunny slippers from the back of the sofa." I totally get it.
From there you can go to similar images featuring dogs, celebrities (a picture of Don Knotts in his deputy’s uniform states, "Barney Fife — because real men only need one bullet"), news (a photo of a battle ready U.S. soldier reads, "It’s 110 in the shade and I’m dressed to kill. How hard did you say your day was?") There are similarly captioned sites for sports, lookalikes (never before had I realized Joe Biden is a dead ringer for Bob Barker) and much more.
Another favorite has been The West Virginia Surf Report. They’re the musings of a father of two in rural Pennsylvania. His descriptions of his in-law’s visits are worthy of a sitcom. He grumbles about the family dog and what he feels are subpar fast-food offerings. He likens Dairy Queen’s new Thin Mint Cookie Blizzard to "eating cold toothpaste."
His blog today started out: "Do you still read magazines? I don’t. Not really. I think the Internet has ruined it all for me. Or maybe I’m just a burn-out who doesn’t get nearly enough sleep and can’t focus anymore? I’m not sure. Both explanations feel valid to me. Wait, what was I saying?" I can so identify.
My most recent guilty pleasure is a site called My Life Is Average. When my daughter, Molly, told me about it my first reaction was, "So what?" After all, what’s the big deal with people blogging about the mundane details of their daily lives. I have enough day-to-day ennui without reading about other people’s. That was before I logged on.
Each entry begins with "Today ..." and ends with MLIA (my life is average). It’s a celebration of the commonplace, those unremarkable moments that comprise the bulk of our existence.
A few favorites:
"Today my mom gave me a Lunchable to take on my field trip. She has done this for every field trip I can remember. There’s just one difference between this field trip and every other field trip I’ve been on — now I’m the teacher. I love my mom. MLIA"
"Today, the Principal issued an e-mail stating that we were free to come into school on Halloween dressed up. We all got excited and started to plan our outfits. I later realized that Halloween is on a Saturday this year. Well played, Principal, well played. MLIA"
"Today, I thought of the perfect comeback for an argument I had three days ago. MLIA"
"Today, while driving to work I passed a Catholic Church whose sign read ‘Happy Rosh Hashanah to our Jewish Neighbors.’ Next to the church is a synagogue who’s sign read ‘Thank You!’ Its nice to know that they get along despite their differences. MLIA"
There’s a similar site that focuses on successes and one for the dismal failures but I’m most at home on MLIA. After all, I spend most of my day slogging around ankle deep in average, not being hoisted up in victory or doubled over in despair. MLIA speaks to my life.
So here’s my contribution: "Today, at 7 a.m., I started writing a column about Internet guilty pleasures, sites that can eat up enormous blocks of time before you realize what’s happened. Four hours later, I was still looking at LOL cats and reading 6 months worth of My Life Is Average entries. I rest my case. MLIA."
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears every other Friday and on gainesvilletimes.com.