How To Really Use The Internet

I remember my first really big Internet “A-Ha!” moment like it was yesterday.

It was about a decade ago, just after the DotCom crash, around the same time I first heard about blogging.

I had just heard from somewhere that, one of the first big-time magazines to launch exclusively online (that was still a big deal in those days) had blown through $60 million setting itself up, before the crash. Was it ever expected to make back its investors’ money? Of course not.

Sixty. Million.

Then I heard from somewhere that Arts & Letters Daily, a blog that appealed to the same kind of reader as Salon, had been set up for a couple of grand; I think $10K was the number.

People would tell me at the time that yeah, of course Salon was more expensive. It had an office in San Francisco and a big staff of proper journalists. It had all the overhead of conventional magazines, minus the paper and printing press. A&L Daily was just an aggregator blog that pointed to interesting bits and pieces across the web.

Yes, that was true, but as a random, semi-educated dude looking for a place that offered me something interesting to read on a regular basis, I preferred A&L Daily to Salon.

As far as I could see, A&L Daily was not only a better product, it was offering its better product for ONE SIX-THOUSANDTH the cost of Salon. For 0.0166% the overheads.

The idea that media could now be viably made for not just pennies on the dollar, but MICRO-PENNIES, hit me like train. BAM!

So I started blogging. The rest is history.

Ten years later, my only disconnect would be, with this amazing opportunity that hyper-cheap media offers us, why are so many of us squandering it?

While others Twitter or Facebook or Foursquare for hours on end about what hipster food truck they’ve just been to or what dumb TV show they just watched, my young cartoonist friend, Austin Kleon is using social media to transform his life and career (and the lives and careers of others).

This is a totally different league of Internet use I’m talking about. And Austin is just one example. So am I. So is John T Unger or Willo O’Brien of Willotoons fame. I could give hundreds of others.

The Internet has given you a HUGE, life-changing opportunity that simply didn’t exist a generation ago. Don’t waste it. A life just surfing the net for hipster-friendly dumbass stuff is no less a waste of a life than sitting in front of the television.

The way to use the Internet is to be more like Austin or Willo or John. Use it seriously.


  1. Hugh,

    Many people around me use the internet to waste there time and others. It is the same when I get a text message with a corny joke that was forwarded.

    I think given the lack of time we have to consume so much information those who use the internet of useless things will become even more ignored.

    I love the comparison of wasting your life in front of a TV

  2. […] content: I haven’t had any bonus content for a bit, but this showed up in my RSS reader today, and it just fits perfectly.  Hugh MacLeod, people.  If you make things […]

  3. D’ya mean I need to put the beer n popcorn away and drag my fat ass off the sofa and fire up the laptop…?

    No way. Jeez, where’s the laptop’s remote… Lora, have you seen it anywhere?

    I’m not wasting my life just doing one of the two – I’m multi-taskin from the sofa. Hoooha!

  4. Love it! Thanks for including me in this, Hugh… and turning me onto Austin & John’s awesome work!

    As you know, I have a big love for the internet. It’s provided me a place to express myself and share my art for 10+ years now… something I only dreamed of as a kid, and now it’s here!

    As a business owner and social butterfly, I’m grateful it’s allowed me the opportunity to cultivate community and amazing friendships around the world… including you!

    Truly life-changing. Thanks again for this. No squandering happening around here! :)

  5. Hugh,

    I really love this post of yours today. And it comes to me in at timely moment in my life in regards to what I am doing. The “Jersey & Hockey Love” was also a validating and encouraging post. Thanks guys for your example of keeping on for the right reasons.

  6. Hi there! I’m new to your blog and I really like this post. And now I am off checking out those folks you mentioned because you got me all curious. Thanks!

  7. I love this post.

    It makes me so happy to know there are people out there like you changing the world in such amazing ways.

    Thanks :)

  8. That is so true, people started abusing internet to consume TV like content, which is just ridiculous.

    Internet is going to be intelligent as much as you allow it to be. If you use it correctly, you will see benefits, if not, it’s gonna be TV #2

  9. REALLY great article. Never has there been more opportunity for people to express themselves and make a difference. I agree that the opportunity should be taken very seriously.

  10. Great stuff, Hugh. The Internet offers the greatest networking/marketing opportunity ever. Anyone can succeed at this, if you don’t give into the temptation to be a profiteering douchebag. And oh, what a temptation it is.