1. Danny Cater understood that the publication of each new “tweet” was a major literary event. His 85,309 “followers” couldn’t get enough of his insights—“ew yuck squid” he once wrote while in the midst of a hearty sushi dinner, only to have it “retweeted” (“RT’d”) four hundred times—and he worked overtime to keep them coming. His decision to “live-tweet the Emmys” was a tremendous success, with lines like “Boogie Crackerjack in that dress WTF???” and “OMG not THAT SHOW AGAIN FML SMDH #theworldisfucked” causing many in his “target audience” to be borne away by a locust-like swarm of roflcopters.
“I guess I just type whatever comes into my mind,” Cater told a gaggle of imaginary interviewers. “Whatever comes into my heart, you know? It’s spontaneous. The best comedy is total improv. But I’m not saying that it doesn’t take a lot of practice to get it right, because there’s a world of difference between, uh, ‘aghh hate these bad drivers’ and ‘if you can’t drive don’t get a license SMDH #SMDH. With the hashtags and everything. It’s more of an art than a science, though in some ways it’s a little of both.”
He used the “webcam” feature on his HipBook Pro to record this mock interview. It struck him as the sort of thing that posterity, which had already welcomed him with arms wide open, would demand.
2. “Heaven forbid that anybody do anything about these g_d_ elections and all this g_d debt! I mean, those do-nothings up there in la-la land have already sunk the ship and now they’ve put on scuba suits and dived 20,000 leagues below the scene of the crime to plunder the treasure chests.”
This “status update,” comprised of less than 300 characters including spaces, had already received dozens of “likes” and even a handful of “loves” and “marry its” on FriendFace.
It was, quite predictably, scorned by the high-minded scenesters who shared a “FriendSpace” with the original poster (“OP”). By choosing to capture the vague, angry “spirit of the times” in language that sank 20,000 leagues beneath the level of cliché, the “OP” had exposed himself to the sort of ironical ridicule so esteemed by people who “DVR’d” their television shows and listed only serious works in the “favorite books” field of their FriendFace “about me” profile.
Yet deep within this community, a revolt was brewing. One of the “OP’s” friends, convinced that the “OP’s” sentiment amounted to nothing less than divinely-inspired “outsider art” of the sort produced by Grandma Moses, Captain Beefheart, and Jesus Christ, decided to put off writing his dissertation to “blog”—for he and his ilk still produced content in the “long form,” using “tweets” and the “tweetdeck” merely as “public social promotion”—an argument to that effect.
It was in this manner that the “OP’s” “status update” eventually appeared on a 72” flatscreen monitor in the (San Francisco) MoMA next to the hundred-page transcript of a “flamewar” among YouTube commenters about the authenticity of “Keyboard Micah the Cat” and the limited edition first appearances of legendary phrases like “smd,” “afk,” and “lulz.”
3. Back in 2001, the mama bear, who had a lot of trouble expressing herself both to the papa bear (who was stern, distant, and always on the World Wide Web “beating his meat” to horrifying “SSBBW spit roast candids” that he’d discovered using altavista or webcrawler or Yahoo! or some other search engine) as well as to the three baby bears (all of whom had been diagnosed with “oppositional disorders” that were not really disorders but just a natural and completely understandable disdain for the mama bear, who—let’s face up to the facts here—was a needy and emotionally exploitative ursus americanus), took to blogging the way a delicious Coho salmon (oncorhynchus kisutch) takes to swimming upstream.
Here is her first blog entry: “Wow!!! I can’t believe I am on this Crazy Internet thing. Can you? Just an old mama bear here typing some thoughts about all that is going on. Well, first let me say that it is FALL (where does all that time go?????) which means some of my favorite things. The color orange, getting ready for hibernation, and most of all PUMMMMPKINS! Boy am I excited about taking my three baby bears out to hunt up some pumpkins and then using our sharp claws (just had a manicure lololol!) to cut a bunch of fun shapes and faces. Baby bear #1 did such a great job on his pumpkin last year. He carved out the initials of papa bear’s ‘alma mammy’ and favorite school State University of College (SUC)! Ok, now that I’m starting to feel tired I think that’s enough for one day so here’s MAMA BEAR SIGNING OFF!!!”
These were, of course, the mama bear’s innermost thoughts. It would either be folly or, uh, “the arrogance of the omniscient narrator” (Ruggleteapot, 1998) to assume otherwise: to believe that “still waters run deep,” to claim that the mama bear had various unfulfilled drives and longings, to conjure up a phantasmic mental life for her in the interest of vindicating an esoteric philosophical principle, &c.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that, by 2008, the mama bear—now so hopelessly glued to the Internet that she began forsaking her annual hibernation—had segued from blogging to the use of the “social marketplace” known as RobertsRoll.org to post and respond to advertisements for “casual encounters.”
Let us examine an “advert” from this period: “big furry mama bear seeks hung babby daddy must be discrete having a big truck with a bed on the back that can just park outside the woods is a plus first come first served n lots of hair n pics 2 the front of the line.”
The sort of degradations that the mama bear now endured were—and we suppose this is putting it euphemistically—“really something.” Meanwhile, the trio of baby bears had long since left for whatever it was that they wanted to do—who gives a shit, really? they couldn’t care less about their mama bear, those little farts—and the papa bear was enmeshed in an “amateur SSBBW voraphilia snuff porn” e-world that made Francis Bacon’s greatest hits look like a triptych of sweet Thomas Kinkade sunrises. On top of that, the family cave had been filled floor to ceiling with offal—and shouldn’t it, given how disgusting every other aspect of the bears’ lives had become?
Our story, which at this point probably seems about as interesting as listening to your grandpa talk about how much better things were when kids used to tie their motherfucking shoes and didn’t just slide their goddamn sockless feet into those son-of-a-bitching oversized clodhoppers (he’s right, you dumbasses), should be read as neither a figurative scourging of the mama bear’s malfeasance—she isn’t “innocent,” but she isn’t exactly “guilty,” either—nor as a general indictment of the Internet as a “web of deceit.” In fact, since it is debuting on the very Internet that serves as both its bête noire and deus ex machina it probably shouldn’t be read at all.