… essentially all of the ad supported sites I visit are diversions. They’re entertaining and informative and amusing and above all absorbing, because that’s what the modern web has driven such sites to be, but they’re not essential or even important; they’re just how I pass time on the Internet right now. These sites are very good at getting me to visit and to spend time on them, but while that is (currently) good for the sites that is not necessarily good for me. In many ways I’m a rat pressing a lever for an intermittent reward, even if the reward is fun; it’s almost all a giant distraction that drains my time in little increments.

Some networks, like Twitter, treat hyperlinks a little better. Others, insecure social services, are far more paranoid. Instagram — owned by Facebook — doesn’t allow its audiences to leave whatsoever. You can put up a web address alongside your photos, but it won’t go anywhere. Lots of people start their daily online routine in these cul de sacs of social media, and their journeys end there. Many don’t even realize that they’re using the Internet’s infrastructure when they like an Instagram photograph or leave a comment on a friend’s Facebook video. It’s just an app.