Monday, August 29, 2016

Fifth Anniversary BLOW-OUT EXTRAVAGANZA!

Proudly reminiscing and reflecting on half a decade of Internet Is In America tomfoolery ... and how YOU can play a big role in shaping the site moving forward.

By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@Jimbo__X

To do anything nonstop for five years, it takes a lot of commitment. You’ve got to remain dedicated and passionate about whatever you are doing, and in today’s ADHD-inducing electronic wonderland, things get old and boring faster than you can say Candy Crush.

In a way, it feels both surreal and totally natural that The Internet Is In America has been chugging along for half a decade now. It's surreal because when I first started posting articles, I had no earthly clue that I'd still be regularly adding content five years down the road. Conversely, it feels downright normal in the sense that I've gotten into such a routine, such a stern yet flexible self-scheduling process, that it makes sense that I'd have stuck to this damn thing for so long.


So, why do I keep running this venture, when there's virtually zero financial or even professional benefits to all of the work I put into it? Well, if I may get philosophical for a bit ...


You see, in life, we are desperately in pursuit of something called "continuity." This is the invisible (and sometimes, not so invisible) threads that makes all of the crazy bullshit that happens to us in life make sense (or, at the absolute least, feel a little less like totally random, isolated incidents.) Since starting this blog, there really haven't been a whole lot of "constants" in my life. Over the last five years, I've lived at four different residences, held four different jobs, owned two different cars, graduated college, watched my mother die and seen six different quarterbacks come under center for the Raiders. Consistency, needless to say, has most definitely not been the order of my day.


What The Internet Is In America represents for me is some semblance of stability and sameness in an always-changing (and oftentimes uncertain) world. No matter how crappy my week, no matter how many stupid edits my boss wants me to make to my paid work, no matter how much my car insurance premium goes up, at the end of the day, I've got my own virtual empire to tend to, something I rule over like a Roman tyrant, that I can call mine and mine alone. This isn't just a blog, it's a storage unit for the most undiluted, unfiltered and uncensored part of my psyche. All the stuff I want to scream at the top of my lungs in day-to-day life, that's what I publish here. In that, The Internet Is In America is probably more about providing a therapeutic outlet than it is an artistic one.


For those not in the loop, The Internet Is In America came about as a senior project when I was in college (no, for real.) My professor wanted me to start some sort of new media-centric blog, so I decided to put IIIA online the fall 2011 term. At the time, I was writing for about four or five different websites, and I was getting really tired of having to put up with my editors' idiosyncratic bullshit. So, already having a blog on the docket, I simply transformed IIIA into a catch-all for all the stuff I was writing about elsewhere - my thoughts on MMA, retro video games, junk food culture and whatever was pissing me off about U.S. society at the time. And I've been going full speed ahead with "the project" ever since.


There's never been a central point to the blog, I suppose. Really, I just write about whatever has my attention at the moment, whether it's something as grandiose as U.S. race relations or the latest and greatest Pop-Tarts variations. From the get-go, I've known that I've wanted IIIA to be a good combination of the serious and the pointless, of the high brow and the low brow, the intellectual and the idiotic. I wanted to tackle things that matter socially and things that have no bearings on modern culture with an equal amount of ardor and vigor. Ever a fan of the Hegelian dialectic, I suppose I've been subconsciously waiting for some sort of great synthesis to emerge from slamming together articles about the excesses of political correctness and consumer culture headlong into articles about old Captain Planet episodes, early '90s WWF pay-per-view events and odes to the monsters wandering the aisles on the first season of Supermarket Sweep.


The one thing I've never set out to do, however, is produce clickbait. I honestly don't give a shit if people read my stuff or not. I don't advertise the site, I don't have any mechanisms in place to generate revenue from the blog (although if the economy starts going down the shitter, I at least have that option) and I don't go around on forums and social media aggregators pimping my articles to inflate my hit count (well, anymore, at least.) I figure that if you find my stuff, there's something very specific you are looking for, anyway. The Internet Is In America has never been about "mainstream acceptance." I'm perfectly happy residing in this little niche, far removed from the vacuous hustle and bustle of the self-aggrandizing, personality-driven, "please donate to my Patreon" blogosphere turd tank. I'm simply going to keep creating solid content, and the magic that is Google will do the rest.


As of the publication of this article, I've uploaded well over 600 stories, which in turn, have generated well over 900,000 page views. Depending on the season, the blog is netting anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 unique hits a month. The sum's not particularly great (or bad), but it is consistent, and by golly, you know how much I adore me some consistency. I've made a conscious effort to produce more timely content (in some cases, even planning out articles a full year in advance), but everything is still more or less cobbled together on the fly. If I'm not feeling something, I will put it on the back burner, and if I get a bizarre itch to write something totally unplanned, I'll go with it as long as what's showing up on the screen isn't 100 percent incoherent rambling. You'll never see IIIA deteriorate into wishy-washy bullshit about my own life, however. If you come a knocking at my door, I know it's because you want a solid recap of a Raiders game or UFC show and some keen analysis of the newest Taco Bell produce, and not because you've bought into my cult of personality and want to hear me ramble on and on about my cats and how girls don't understand me. (By the way, I hate cats and unlike 90 percent of the dudes out there running low-culture-appreciation sites, I'm actually in a committed relationship with a human female. Whom I didn't order off the Internet, either.)


As far as stuff I've published, I don't play favorites. I'm the kind of guy who is always looking ahead, not behind. Some stories have been better than others, but by and large, I'm happy with just about everything I've posted on IIIA. I mean, there's probably a burrito review somewhere in there that I would've approached differently, but eh, it's already happened. Generally, I just try to write as much about a topic as I feel passionate about/interested in, and after that? It's a dead slab of meat I've sliced off my soul. You can eat it and find it nutritious or you can spit it out in disgust. Either way, I've already dedicated myself to working on the next slab, and I'll stop giving a shit about that one as soon as I hit the publish button, as well. That's not to say I consider my stuff disposable or anything. Rather, I just feel that something is no longer mine after I send it out into the Internet wild. Yeah, I wrote it and everything, but it's now a communal offering, not just some tangible representation of my innermost thoughts made (digital) flesh I keep to myself. All I do is strive to make the next article the best one I've ever written, and in keeping with the teachings of one of my elder gods George Carlin, over the last half decade, I do believe I've witnessed some signs of improvement.


Now, how long do I think I can keep The Internet Is In America going? Well, there's still a lot of stuff I want to write about (in fact, I have a notebook outlining detailed notes on at least 200 posts I haven't gotten around to penning yet.) Plus, random stuff out of nowhere inspires me everyday, so that list keeps getting bigger instead of shrinking. Alas, as I grow older, my greater concerns have steered away from the upkeep of my wannabe-media-empire and towards more important real-life shit, like buying a house, putting a ring on my girl's finger and actually injecting her with my seed so as to bring forth another human being on this planet, of which at least half of his or her genetic inheritance is my own. With heavy, heavy stuff like that resting on your shoulders, all of a sudden, spending ten hours on the greatest article ever about the Atari Lynx kinda becomes an afterthought. Still, although I expect to be writing and posting less material for the site beginning next year, I don't think I will ever completely discard it. I mean, there's too much stupid shit that rankles me, and I've got to externalize my wellspring of concern and outrage somewhere. That, and transcribing live MMA shows and football games gives me the illusion of doing something productive with my life. If I just eat a Halloween-themed burger, all I'm doing is getting fatter. But if I write a multimedia-heavy article about said Halloween-themed burger, now I'm being "artistic" and "counter-cultural" and "subversively anti-materialistic," turning the fleeting, ephemeral moments of my consumer existence into something with pseudo-collective worth. And that has a whole lot more appeal to it than you'd reasonably assume.


So what's my endgame now? Do I keep putting stuff out there until I hit 1,000 posts and then do three or four updates a month, Dino Drac style? Do I turn this thing into more or less a glorified Tumblr page with mamby-pamby 300 or 400 word mini-posts? Do I let the site lay dormant for weeks on end, periodically resurfacing for longer and more thorough pieces a'la The Best Page in the Universe? Do I sell out completely and just push out boring, analytics-driven listicles to appease the gods of Alphabet and their nigh-unquestionable search indexing algorithms? Eh, I don't know. All I know is that I've got a lot of stuff in the hopper, and as long a I can find the wherewithal and the motivation to keep churning stuff out, IIIA should be chugging along for quite some time to come.

In the past I've mulled the possibility of getting a proper domain, but since I've never really been one for vanity suffixes, I am more than content keeping the blogspot albatross in the URL. Like I said earlier, I might be into advertisements and monetizing some content, but I don't have any active plans in mind. As far as expanding the site with social media pages, YoutTube channels and even secondary websites? Dude, I barely have enough time to get all my shit posted here - I'm afraid we hit critical mass a long time ago, folks.

Alas, while I've never been one to lay prone before the ungodly hordes of populism, that doesn't mean I don't care about feedback - constructive or negative. I honestly want to know: what do you like about the site and what do you hate? Are there any kind of features you want to see more of? Do you think I ought to stick to reviewing old propaganda movies and crazy ass junk food, or would you prefer I focus on more sociopolitically relevant matters and subjects? Are you keen on the movie reviews and video game countdowns, or would you like to see more coverage of sporting events and photographic essays about all the wacky shit going on in Atlanta? Granted, I may not completely retool the kinds of things I cover at The Internet Is In America, but I'll at least take into consideration. Maybe.

And lastly, I wanted to throw down the proverbial gauntlet to any longtime readers or site newcomers with a budding interest in writing themselves. As a professional writer and editor in the real world, I'd love to publish some guest pieces on IIIA, pending your musings are entertaining, enlightening or informative enough to pass old Jimbo's smell test. I'm especially interested in hearing from readers whose area of expertise\interest lay outside of the stuff normally produced at IIIA. For example, I'd love to bring somebody on board who can provide an ideological counterweight to This Week In Social Justice Warrior-dom - somebody with liberal, progressive leanings who has the chops to produce a semi-regular This Week in Alt-Right Bullshit column or something along those lines. I don't know shit about modern console or PC gaming, so if you have a good idea for what's great and what's crap without defaulting to the usual IGN and Gamespot fanboy sectarian nonsense, I think you'd be another excellent candidate for IIIA. Hell, I'd love to have some folks with hardline feminist and #BlackLivesMatter perspectives earning bylines, too. As long as you are able to put out decent, thought-provoking articles covering uncommon things in a hilarious or educational way (or you have a really uncommon perspective you can both elucidate upon and rationally describe regarding more common societal matters) on a quasi-regular basis, I'll give you a shot. Think you have what it takes to run side-by-side with old Jimbo and proudly wave the flag of our dear mascot Flaily the Arrow-Penised Inflatable Tube Man? Send me what you got here and we'll see where we can go from there.

I'm no pie-in-the-sky wannabe tastemaker with illusions of grandeur. This site will never be as big as stuff like I-Mockery or Cracked, or even the super-duper-successful indies like The Surfing Pizza. I'm perfectly content being cloaked in obscurity, periodically having my work called out by multi-billionaire venture capitalists, the nation's largest and most prestigious daily newspaper and some guy on 4Chan who thinks I'm actually some GamerGate person from Minnesota who owes him money. I never started this thing to become rich or famous or even be celebrated by the nameless, faceless, Internet throng. I just write because I enjoy it, it makes me happy and it's a lot more cost effective and health-conscious pastime than shooting heroin and jumping on moving trains for cheap thrills.

So here's to the first five years of The Internet Is In America, and all the havoc and mayhem and hilarity that has been wrought. And here's to the next five years of IIIA ... in whatever undreamable, unfathomable shape it assumes ... even harder.


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