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Rant #54
(published August 23, 2001)
My, Has She Ever Aged Shamefully
by Jason Kirk

Knock knock, are you between the ages of twenty and thirty-nine, living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, post-collegiate, AWOL on everything you used to believe in, tired of the sloughing work of intelligent living and just whining for a way to wile away the weeks until a next decimal birthday rolls along with its own blessedly pre-institutionalized set of meanings, brand-new to you at the low low price of a memorable eulogy? Then olderthaniwas.com is for you. Yes, grab a friend with an HMO and a DSL and snuggle up for deep, personal insult, compliments of Ann Arbor's new website "devoted to the 'after college' crowd." I pilloried fifteen minutes of my five senses to bring you this. If you visit olderthaniwas.com after reading, know that I know that I've failed and don't tell me about it, because I'm still icing my re-contusioned faith in humans after my own visit. Here's what you didn't miss:

"Aimed at the mid 20s to late 30s age set on the Ann Arbor horizon," olderthaniwas.com targets. Hey baby, what's your age set? Hang around this horizon often? Designed for the seamless navigation of our degreed village idiots, the site offers: Features, major writing like "Columns," "The List" (more later), "How Do I?" and "Pub Crawl;" Your Turn, subsliced: Discussion, Classifieds, Ask Advice, and A2 Links; and Insider Info, with staff and contributor egospace, email contact, and a call for submissions. In an empty nod to "bipartisanship" and how we're taught on tv that it means, I'll concede that the site was blessedly luddite-friendly. But then who wants anything, anything at all, aimed at me...?

Back to the beware at hand. As itīs a website, olderthaniwas.com already willfully narrows the audience to the internet privileged and savvy. Its crosshairs constrict. Bend an ear. The "Special Features Section" offered "Single Over 30: The Long Run," a human with sputtering interest story to cower with on a next lonely Sunday morning, pocked with highlighted nicey-nuggets like "They laugh a lot," "there were a lot of bumps along the way," "a generous attitude," and my favorite: "luck." Will it happen to me? I love hearing about people in love, that satiating, audible smack of improbabilities fusing, but the rest of the site was an exercise in wading through phthisic, piled insult from people who think I'm their peer, of all the rock-salt-in-a-tongue-slits you can imagine.

Discussion?! Editor ayla123, University of Michigan graduate Seneca Suter, originated "Things to Do in ( ) When You're Bored" and "Must Have Movies." Somebody named Summer16 championed "Baby names" and "Reasons why I should still like Alyssa Milano." Topping the charts with 12 contributions was "winking: creepy or cute?" Either the thirty-two people who entered these mostly demoralizing roundtables are demonstrating the futility and sloth of most post-college office jobs, which I prefer to imagine for reasons of tenuous hope, or else they do this at home, where, in the absence of anyone's ever having learned, say, how to sit and talk in otherwise silence, cook for friends, or (shiver) read, they type-chat with other meaningless steamers and by so simmering keep the difficult work of finding a socially conscionable way of living at safe bay.

And . . . "The List." I can't conceive of what Suter & Co. were thinking placing this section of the website immediately after those bastions of progressive feature writing, the "Columns," but here it is: "The List," second on your dial, you like-aged locals, a monthly stack of pitiable condescension in descending order, the full whim of those at olderthaniwas who claim to aim at and to serve you. May, 2001: 10 Television Shows You Should Be Watching. June, 2001: In the *REAL* Real World... July, 2001: 10 Great Things About NOT Living with Your Parents. How about
10) You diminish the risk of their telling you that your website is vapid
9) You lessen the immediacy of realizing that you look like them
8) There's no one left who cares about you enough to tell you that you're wasting your one protracted chance at sentience
7) To finish the list would be a really insulting way to replicate for you the legion crunch of demeaning that olderthaniwas.com brings to our town now like jackboots . . .

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