This Is Why The Internet Sucks

First, a brief confessional: I have some serious reservations about posting what follows. It occurs to me lately that I have unwittingly secured for myself something of a reputation as a digital misanthrope. I complain a LOT about how fucked up things are in the world of the web.

For example, when I posted one of my short rants on Facebook a few days ago, somebody responded with a link to a coffee shop in Wales called “Grumpy Fuckers” (which frankly I would love to go to, because it’s in Wales). What’s a fellow to do with a comment like that other than respond with a snappy “Fuck you”? Unfortunately the original respondent had his irony detector turned off.

But one thing I keep reading in graphic memes all over the web is that we have to be ourselves and live our own truth, right? So, suck it up, bunky, and away we go:

This Is What I Do Every Damn Day… and I just don’t have the patience any for it any more.

Admittedly, I never had a whole lot of “patience” to begin with, but what little patience I may have started out with has been all but exhausted by living online — where even a few seconds is more time than I can wait for things to happen.

It’s hard to believe, when I stop and add it all up, but I have been online for more than 35 years. I got my first computer in 1979 and not long thereafter my first 300-baud dialup modem. Trust me when I say: the technology may have improved dramatically over the years, but things used to be a LOT easier.

20 years from now we’ll look back on today’s Internet and say “THAT’s what it was like!”

Maybe that’s because at first, there were only a few things you could do online, like trade messages through a bulletin board or download stock price data. Now, our entire lives are online, and despite all the advances, it seems at times that we are still very much in the “jalopy phase” of the digital revolution.

The latest case in point: my recent experience ordering tickets online for a Nashville Sounds baseball game.

Before the Sounds moved to their spiffy new ballpark — back in the glory days when they played at the dilapidated old Greer Stadium — the team operated their own in-house online box office. I had an account, with a user name and password, and when I entered my account, the database knew who I was and recalled my credit card number. And when I looked at the seating chart, the site told me the price of the tickets in whatever section I was looking at.

Once the team moved into the new ballpark, the operations went totally corporate — starting with naming the joint for a bank — and the the online ticket sales were handed off to the spawn of Satan, aka Ticketmaster. Before I even go near the virtual box office, I can smell the sulphur. How appropriate that the new ballpark is situated in a neighborhood called — I kid you not — “Sulphur Dell.”

This was the second time I’ve purchased tickets for a Sounds game from their new website. The first time I ordered through the new Ticketmaster portal, I discovered that my old Nashville Sounds account User ID (UID) and password (PW) were no longer operable — because this was a new database operated by Ticketmaster. Not only did my old Sounds UID/PW combo not work, but the UID/PW combo I have used for several years when buying tickets from Ticketmaster didn’t work either.

In order to purchase tickets from the new Sounds website, I had to create a whole new account with a whole new UID/PW combo.

Here’s what happened: The Sounds site switches me over to the Ticketmaster portal — which takes forfuckingever to load. When it does finally load, I get a map of the seating in the ballpark. But nowhere does the page tell me what the ticket prices are for the different sections of the park. That information is not revealed until I select a seat somewhere, at which point the selection is automatically added to a shopping cart. Only then do I see the price for the seat I selected.

In this case, the first price I selected was almost $30 — pretty steep when you consider that the best seats at Greer used to cost $12. I understand we have a spiffy, new, corporate ballpark to pay for, so I was looking for seats in the $20 range, tops. In order to do that I had to hunt-and-peck my way around the seat map, selecting and deselecting seats until I found the price point I was looking for.

Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of the issues. This was clearly not going to be what my friend Kate calls a “happy path.”

Once I had selected my seats and dropped them into the shopping cart, a timer started ticking: “You have 5 minutes to complete the transaction or the seats you selected will be discarded.”

But first: NOW it’s time to log in to your account. I get to the “enter your email address and password” window and…. I can’t tell which of the THREE logins I now have related to the Sounds and Ticketmaster I should use. I try the one that I think it should be — the new account I created when the Sounds switched to Ticketmaster. That one doesn’t work. Now the site is telling me: “Either the User ID or Password you entered is not recognized; you have used one of five attempts, you have four left before getting locked out” of this transaction.”

Of course the database won’t tell me whether it’s the UID or the PW that it can’t recognize. That’s asking entirely too much of a database. And all the while, the clock is running…

I tried a few other combinations. None worked. So now I have no choice but to go through the “Forget your password? Click to reset” routine. Then I have to wait for an e-mail with a temporary password. I use that to log in to my account — finally, a little progress. Then the first thing I have to do is actually reset my password.

I figure, OK, what the hell, I’ll just use the password that I used previously with this account, so that I don’t have to take the extra step of updating my password manager (which, you’ll recall, was of absolutely no use on this occasion). So I type in that old password.

And what do you suppose happens?

OF COURSE! The stupid system tells me “please use something other than your old password.”

Apparently I’m not alone. Google the words “computer rage” and thousands of images come up.

Well excuuuuuuse me but… WHAT THE FUCK?? If your stupid database knows what my old password was, then why the FUCK didn’t the system let me in when I used it in the first place ?!?!?!

OK, take a deep breath. Come up with yet another new password (#783 in my password database, if you’re curious because, like I said, I’ve been doing this for a LONG time). OK, enter the new password, enter again to confirm and… finally, I’m through the gateway. The clock is still running but I still have enough time to finish the transaction. Now all I have to do is pay for the tickets…

Not so fast, wiggle fingers!

When I first set up this new Sounds/Ticketmaster account with the password-the-system-knew-all-along-but-did-not-recognize, I also provided the credit card number I wanted to use whenever I purchased tickets for a Sounds game. This should have meant that once I was past the gateway and into the final payment stages of the process, everything should have been automatic.

More wishful thinking.

Instead, when I got to the payment window, the system actually asked me to verify the credit card in my account by ENTERING THE NUMBER AGAIN!!! And how am I supposed to remember which of my several credit cards I associated with this particular account? That’s what YOUR STUPID SYSTEM is supposed to remember! What’s the point of storing my credit card number in your database if I have to re-enter the fucking number when I actually want to buy something???

OK, so I finally managed to figure out which was the correct credit card, I verified the number, and managed to complete the transaction.

And another task that should have taken five minutes had consumed nearly a half hour of my day. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this sort of experience. This is what the Internet has become: a confused, convoluted black hole of a time suck.

This is the sort of digital bullshit that we all put up with ALL FUCKING DAY.

And people wonder why I’m grumpy?

And when it was all over, The Spawn of Satan asked me to take survey. This was one of the questions, apparently derived of the delusion that I have a choice.

(Coming soon (maybe): Part 2: Advertising on the Web and “The Interruption Economy.”

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