Monday, May 16, 2011

A life of reading online humour

Late last week I found Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal for the first time.  Since then I have been maniacally consuming the years and years of comics and videos posted there punctuated by grinning, snorting and howling with gales of hideous, unstoppable laughter.  The comics are drawn by a man of similar age to me on the topics of religion, science, math and sex and reflect a worldview notably similar to my own so it is no surprise that I enjoy them so.  This desperation to read all 2,000+ comics and view all of the dozens (hundreds?) of videos got me to thinking about creativity and what sort of life is worth living.  A few times in my life I have found a new internet site and been inexorably sucked into it, spending days at a time reading everything ever posted there.  Xkcd, Sluggy Freelance, Order of the Stick and now SMBC all grabbed me and I could not let go.  These insane, temporary addictions are wonderful and finding people of like mind amidst the wasteland that is most of the internet is great but is this something that is really worth doing?  Particularly I was thinking about the situation of finding a brilliant webcomic that had literally unlimited archives such that I could look at them forever and the content would never run out - what would I do and what should I do?

I wonder if I would be addicted in the same fashion if there were no end in sight.  I have a drive to consume it all, see it all, experience everything but I don't do that for movies or TV shows even though there are some really good ones out there.  The biggest difference between these two situations is that even if I wanted to watch every really good movie ever I could not do so - there simply isn't enough time left in my life given how fast these things are produced and how big my backlog is.  Those projects simply feel impossible and the glorious feeling of learning it all isn't achievable.  When I am viewing webcomics though it is entirely possible to read every good webcomic I have ever found and the dates and numbers even tell me exactly how far through the list I am.  Maybe it has something to do with watching numbers get bigger and wanting to level up my virtual reading score or somesuch... I don't pretend to entirely understand my own urges.

I begin to think of how these authors turn their desire to entertain into a successful business.  I have no desire for commercial success and no drive to bet my happiness on the success or failure of a business venture so even when I do build something I don't really consider hunting for fame and fortune in the way that many do.  Given that, is there any point in creating the things I create?  If the goal is simply to pass the time and have fun then might I not be just as well served reading webcomics and watching movies endlessly?  The amount of good writing and interesting content on the internet might as well be infinite at this point given how fast it is produced so is blogging like I do even making anything better?  I guess I do slightly improve the signal to noise ratio but that seems like a pretty miniscule benefit considering the size of cyberspace.  The great Stoics would probably tell me that becoming the best person I can be is the most worthy goal of all but is that better achieved by considering the creativity and insights of others or by creating things myself?


  1. Do you read xkcd, Sky? These comics you linked are a lot like their style, I love it!

  2. Yes, I certainly do. I mentioned it in the first paragraph, actually.