New Fan Works
Old Fan Works
AOL is not the Internet! It's not even
A semi-serious criticism of America
I'm about as disgusted as a vegetarian
in a slaughterhouse about America Online. I have kept quiet about this
for quite a while, but I can keep quiet no longer! Those corporate bureaucrats
at AOL headquarters (who may or may not actually be clones of Al Gore)
cannot silence me. AOL is simply a poor excuse for an online service and
an Internet service provider. It does not, and never has, live up to my
expectations. Yes, I'm sorry to say that I was once an AOL user. I used
it but I did not inhale! When I first got a computer nearly six years ago,
I was only vaguely aware of the Internet. I knew it existed, and I wanted
desperately to use it. Back then, AOL either didn't exist or it was very
small (I think it was the former). There were very few choices for online
services back then, mainly Prodigy and Compuserve (which was devoured by
AOL some time ago). I, or more accurately my parents, chose Compuserve.
I have to say, it was a very fast and reliable service. Back then, they
charged by the hour. A flat rate was unheard of. We happily used Compuserve
until we started getting bills that were in the $100+ range, I had become
an Internet junkie. As a side note, when I say "Internet" I mean the world-wide-web,
I never used any of the Compuserve-only services, I only used it as a portal
to the Web. I went crazy after our service was cancelled, I had to find
another way to get on the Internet for cheaper! Internet withdrawal is
not a fun experience. Finally, we decided to get AOL, which we so many
people were raving about. The $20 per month flat fee was the clincher.
Finally, I had service again.
I used AOL for nearly a year, and I
ignored the many problems with it. I guess I was blinded by my need for
the Internet, AOL was my cheapest fix so I used it. Of course we all knew
about the hassle of having to dial-up a hundred times just to get connected,
and having to click that damn 49-minute disconnect warning box. But I gritted
my teeth and beared with it, hoping some day that something better would
come along. Alas, that day finally came. I happened to stumble upon the
web site of a company called Net Zero, which provided FREE Internet service.
I couldn't believe my eyes: I could get my Internet fix for free, and all
I had to do was deal with a dinky little advertising box. The day I cancelled
AOL and first sign on to Net Zero was an epiphany for me; the Internet
has never been the same. I am proud to say I began using Net Zero a couple
years before they first advertised on TV.
I was lucky to have broken free from
AOL's merciless grip. But there are others who are not so lucky. Now I
will get to why you are all reading this: why I HATE America Online.
Simply put, AOL is the most unreliable, over-hyped, piece-of-crap "Internet
provider" I have ever seen. It gets its customers through deceptive advertisments
and an endless barrage of AOL disks. What follows is a breakdown of why
AOL sucks and should be deleted from the human consciousness.
AOL is an Internet service provider,
right? Wrong! Contrary to what you may believe, AOL does not connect you
to the Internet. People who "browse the Net" with AOL are in fact only
seeing what they let you see. That's right, AOL can and does control
the web sites you can visit. How do they do this? It's simple. When you
connect to America Online, you are dialing into their computer system.
As long as your modem is on, you are in AOL's computers, not on
the Internet. You "browse the Internet" through what is called a proxy
server. A proxy server is a computer that acts as a buffer between
one terminal (you) and another (the Internet). When you start the browser
and click on links the request for the webpage is sent to AOL's computers.
The AOL computers then request the page from the Internet, and then send
it to you. When you browse on AOL, you are browsing second-hand. You can
only see what AOL's computers want you to see. Anything they consider "objectionable"
can be censored from you as long as you are connected to AOL's computers.
That means that ignorant users of AOL aren't surfing the same Internet
as the rest of us. It's like a nation-wide "Net Nanny". They can block
any site they want. You might be wondering "but what if I just start up
Netscape and use that? Then I'm not using AOL's browser." Wrong! If you
try to use an outside browser, you have to configure it to be used with
a proxy server. Why? Because you are not on the Internet. When you connect
to AOL, you are simply another computer in their system. When you log on
to another ISP, they are simply a hub you can retrieve information through.
Other services (e.g. Net Zero) actually connect your computer to the Internet.
With other services, you have a direct connection to the Internet. That
means there are no barriers between you and www.poke-a-man.com. The whole
basis of the Internet is something aptly named "Internet Protocol." Every
computer connected to the Internet is assigned a unique Internet Protocol
number that looks like this: "188.8.131.52." These numbers identify your
computer to the rest of the world. Did you know that web addresses like
"www.yahoo.com" aren't actually the locations for the computers? Yahoo's
IP address is actually 184.108.40.206, that is the number that is assigned
to Yahoo's computers. Go ahead, type "220.127.116.11" into the URL bar and
see what happens. When you type "www.yahoo.com", what happens is that your
computer asks various central directories what IP number corresponds to
"www.yahoo.com" and it redirects you to it. So what does all this mean?
When you log onto AOL your computer is not assigned an IP number.
The closest thing you have to an IP is whatever AOL's central computers
number is. They access the Internet for you, and cut out the stuff they
don't want you to see. So if you want to actually connect to the Internet,
get another ISP.
What about the service itself? Well,
I have to say I was disappointed when I first logged on to AOL (after trying
to dial in a hundred times, of course). All these woderful services they
touted were simply ploys. I didn't find any useful services on AOL itself,
I used the Internet only. Whatever wonderful service you find on AOL, I
can find a hundred better ones on the Web. Shopping? Let's see, there's
Amazon, Buy.com, Yahoo, E-Bay, and a million others. Online dictionaries?
Try merriam-webster.com. Encycopedias? Encyclopędia Britannica has
an online version and so does World Book. Almanacs? How about infoplease.com.
Notice a pattern here? No matter what crappy excuses for "services" AOL
has, I can find better ones on the Web. Oh, but what about chat rooms?
Try typing "chat" into a search engine. I got 6482 matches from Yahoo.
Plus, most of these chat rooms don't kick you off if you say a bad word.
That's another thing I hate about AOL: their damn "Terms of Service." They
give you about fifty trillion words of nonsensical legal ramblings that
I can sum up into just a few words: "We own you. And you will do what we
tell you." Their policies on vulgarity and whatnot are so open-ended and
nonspecific that just about anything can be used as a reason to get you
kicked off. They kick people off for stupid reasons, yet they turn their
backs on the violations they should be paying attention to. You may be
shocked by what I am about to say, but it is true. AOL has a feature called
"private chat rooms", which are unmonitored and unregulated. You might
think it's great that there are chat rooms without people spying on you.
But do you know what goes on in those chat rooms? It's not petty stuff
like dumbasses typing lines of nonsense or horny teenagers trying to have
cybersex. It is something far more disgusting and repugnant. Sometimes
you might hear on the news about a pedophile that was arrested for trying
to solicit sex from a little girl who was actually a police officer under
cover. Where do these exchanges take place? In private chat rooms. And
what does AOL do? "We'll look into it". That's they're way of saying "We're
going to ignore it and let it continue to happen with full knowledge of
what's going on, and we're not going to do a damn thing about it." That
is exactly what they do. But pedophiles getting arrested for trying to
hook up with a little kid is not the worst thing that goes on. While practices
like this are apalling, only very rarely does a pedophile actually get
so far as to have access to a child through the Internet. It almost never
happens. The news just makes it seem like a bigger problem than it actually
is. The real problem of private chat rooms is far more repugnant. It is
the most disgusting thing that exists on the Internet: child pornography.
Chat rooms on AOL are one of the largest forums for the distribution of
kiddie-porn. Morally apalling AOL members freely exchange sexually explicit
pictures of little kids every day. This is a pratice that must be stopped,
but AOL does nothing. They freely allow this to go on, and they know
this is happening. By burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the
problem, they are in effect willingly supporting the distribution of child
pornography. So think about that next time you log on to AOL.
Also, I hate the fact that AOL is simply
annoying. For the years I had Compuserve, not once did I get a busy
signal. I am absolutely serious, every time I dialed in I got connected
without a busy signal. AOL? I got a busy signal every single time.
Usually it took me ten tries, or even more. They have a serious bandwidth
problem and they still haven't solved it. And what happens when I finally
get connected? The first thing I see is a freakin' pop-up ad. Every time
I clicked on a button another ad came up. And AOL's e-mail service is horribly
antiquated. Until very recently, AOL-users couldn't send or receive HTML
e-mail. That's just plain stupid. Whenever I logged on, I heard "you've
got mail!" in that annoyingly cheerful voice that makes me wish I was deaf.
I anxiously clicked on the message, hoping for something good. What do
I get? Ads, ads, ads!!! I usually had to delete twenty of them everyday.
And you know what else? If you go into just about any AOL chat room, you
are automatically putting yourself on spam mailing lists. The final reason
that we got rid of AOL was the fact that my little brother got about five
porn e-mails a day, even after we complained.
The most annoying thing ever
about AOL are the mother-f***ing (I don't want to offend youngsters) disks!
Everywhere I go, literally, I see an AOL disk. I get them in the mail every
week. I seem them in magazines, in books, on shelves at stores, and even
in boxes of cereal. There are more AOL disks out there than there are people
to use them! It kind of makes you wonder why the hell they're putting out
so many in the first place. Isn't millions of users enough? Why do they
need more? For the love of God, they can't handle the number of customers
they have already. What the hell are they thinking trying to get more?
Whatever they're smoking over at AOL headquarters must be some strong
stuff. Maybe if they put their money into upgrading their computers, they
wouldn't have to get new customers through a flood of disks. I seriously
wonder how much money they spend on making millions of disks every year.
The board of directors should be shot for wasting natural resources on
making millions of useless disks. Think of how much space they take up
in landfills. Those disks could have useful stuff on them like music, encyclopedias,
dictionaries, or games. Instead they're wasted. The only use for AOL CD-ROMs
is as frisbees or drink coasters. But the floppies do have one use: looking
at solar eclipses. I'm totally serious, stack 2 disks on top of each other,
open the little metal doors, and stare through the opening. They disk material
darkens the light enough so it doesn't blind you. I tried this with the
eclipse that was on Christmans Day. But that's beside the point, our resources
should not be wasted to make millions of frisbees and eclipse-viewers.
They should put all their money into improving service.
And what about those commercials? Year
after year I keep hearing about the wonderful brand new version of AOL.
"Try brand new version 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0", and on and on and on. And you
know what? Absolutely nothing changes between versions. All they do is
change the pictures on the buttons and make it harder to unistall it. And
every single time they say these exact words: "The easiest has just gotten
easier! Try new version x!". Please tell me, how can AOL keep getting easier
every single time they come out with a new version? I mean, you have to
draw the line somewhere. After a while, it'll be so easy that it can't
possibly get any easier. So I decided to find out exactly how easy AOL
6.0 really is. After six versions, my calculations (which was a very complicated
process including lots of calculators, computers, and little bottles of
different-colored liquids boiling over Bunsen burners) indicated that AOL
6.0 should be so easy that I shouldn't actually have to do anything. So,
when I got an AOL CD in the mail, I put it to the test. I took the CD case,
unwrapped the plastic and placed it on top of my computer desk. Then I
waited.and waited. Nothing happened. Judging by the commercials, the disk
should be capable of growing legs, opening the CD drive, climbing inside,
and then it should install itself and connect me to AOL without any help
from me. Imagine my surprise when I got back from the crapper to discover
that the CD didn't grow legs, and it didn't install itself. Damn, I guess
it's not that easy. So then I got to thinking, expecting the disk
to grow legs might be a little overkill. Then I thought: my dog is really
smart, she should be able to figure it out. Believe me, I have an intelligent
dog. She has a large vocabulary which includes "mommy, baby, bacon, bye-bye,
and squirrel" among others. So if AOL is so easy, surely my dog will be
surfing the Net in no time! I guess not. I called my dog and she came running
happily, expecting food. I put the disk in front of her and she sniffed
it for a moment and then began to stare at me. She was obviously not impressed
by this piece of plastic. Her expression seemed to say: "What the hell
is this? I was expecting a treat and you give me a piece of plastic?" So
she whined for a minute, thinking that I was joking. But once she realized
that I in fact had no food, she left and went about her normal daily routine
(which involves mostly hoarding dirty socks and taking them under the bed).
So my dog, who is more intelligent than the average AOLer, could not figure
it out. So I have decided that I will not deem AOL "easy" until my dog
can use it. Here's a good idea: make the disks out of hog anus so we can
feed it to the dog as a treat. Now that would be an efficient use of resources.
And now for the coup de grace: users
of America Online. First of all, I will say that I am about to bash AOLers,
not users of AOL. There is a difference. An AOL user is simply a
normal person who has been misguided by AOL's evil advertising campaign.
They have been tricked into thinking that AOL is the Internet. They
have been brainwashed and I feel sorry for them. Hopefully, those innocent
little old ladies will find out that there are things better than AOL.
An AOLer is a disgusting, perverted, brain-dead moron who believes that
America Online is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They act like
idiots and they are idiots. AOLers have IQs that are less than or equal
to cinder-blocks. In fact, I met a cinder block once who was very intelligent.
But I have also held "conversations" with AOLers that made me wonder if
they are actually Colobus monkeys that escaped from a viral research lab.
AOLers have the amazing ability to actually transmit stupidity. That means
that you can become dumber by corresponding with them. Talking to an AOLer
for one minute is equivalent to inhaling an entire 55-gallon drum of industrial-strength
I would like to close by saying one
last thing. If you're a normal person who uses AOL, for the love of everything
sacred, get a new service. You will be much better of using any other service, even if you have to pay for it.
MSN is $6.95 a month, and
Zero is free (up to 40 hours). Also, try
FreeLane which is free for
unlimited use, but it only has a few access numbers in states outside the west
coast (I live in a suburb of Chicago, and I have one local access number). If
you are an innocent AOL user who is ignorant of the truth, hopefully your eyes
will be opened and you will see the light. If you're an AOLer, may God have
mercy on your soul.
Kasuto of Kataan
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