At first glance, the Internet and booze may not seem all that similar. One is a powerful psychoactive drug and delightful beverage, the other is an information superhighway. One comes in a bottle; the other a series of tubes. And I am pretty sure the Internet doesn't give you hangovers no matter how hard you go at it, whereas I am still feeling last night's beers at lunchtime today, and not in a good way. But despite these significant differences, once you dig a little deeper it becomes apparent how shockingly similar the two really are. Let me break it down into five reasons for you.
1. They're both terribly addictive. We've all known someone, or someones, with a drinking problem, whether it was the always-tipsy party dude in college or the lush stepmother slurring at us at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning to clean the garage even though we lived in an apartment and didn't actually have a garage. Point is, there are people who need to stop drinking but just can't. It's a serious (and sometimes hilarious, if you're W.C. Fields) problem. Well, the Internet is just as addictive. Whether it's South Koreans dying in Internet Cafes after 44-hour online gaming binges or that loser roommate who just sits in his dank-ass room surfing the web all day, it's no less tragic than your average drunk. And possibly even more pathetic.
2. Each makes you spend too much money. You know what it costs to get drunk in a bar these days? By the time you've had a few beers, topped it off with a couple of Jagerbombs and tipped that cute cocktail waitress at a decent bar, you can easily be out $50 or more. And that's one freaking night (probably a Thursday)! A serious lush needs to take out a second job just to pay for his habit. The Internet's just as bad. First you have to buy a computer, which could set you back a grand or more. Then there's broadband hookup at $60 a month, subscriptions to the "good" porn sites, online shopping, the iTunes store... See what I mean?
3. Both can make you really, really sick. Alcohol will make you sick by, in essence, poisoning you. At a certain point, too much booze just makes your body say "no," and you puke it all up and pass out (or keep drinking if you are truly hardcore). The Internet will make you puke via a slightly different mechanism, but it's no less effective. Just check out such charming sites, images and pictures as lemonparty.org, goatse and "Two girls, one cup." (Actually, just take my word for it -- there's no way to unsee something until eyebleach is invented). Enough of that and your brain eventually says "no," and you puke and pass out -- or keep surfing the horribles if you're really hardcore. And if you are, what the fuck is wrong with you?
4. Both help you make shameful, horrible hookups. Most of us, at one point or another (or many, many points), has gotten loaded, went home with someone we didn't know and then woken up next to something resembling a cross between the Creature from the Black Lagoon and a yeti. It happens. The Internet, through such innovations as dating sites and the Craigslist casual encounters board, facilitates the same kind of thing, only with less blacking out and even fewer excuses. Seriously, "I drove all the way across town, so I may as well go for it" is way more pathetic than "I was so drunk I could barely see."
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5. Both give you instant courage. Take a 98-pound weakling, fill him full of Jim or Jack and let a mixed-martial-arts champ look at him the wrong way and he's ready to take him on -- him and his pussy friends! Similarly, put that same 98-pound weakling behind a keyboard and the anonymity of the Internet and you get essentially the same result -- see any message board, comments thread or chat room anywhere online. In both cases it's entirely pathetic -- although much, much safer for the network-enabled tough guy. It's actually pretty hard to put someone in traction via WiFi.