Mea Culpa, Youa Maxima Culpa

« February 2010 »
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
2
6
7
12
13
14
15
20
21
27
28

When I fuck up, I think it's vitally important that I make amends. And this I will do, by first, admitting my error, second, pointing out whose fault it was that I made that error, and third, offering up divine comedy morsels in the hopes that you will forget about that error. In other words, it's SPASTIC MEA CULPA FRIDAY!

First, the fuckup. The fundamental premise behind yesterday's column, that South Carolina had just implemented a subversives registration act, was incorrect. It turns out that the Subversive Activities Registration Act is actually a Cold War, red-scare artifact that's been on the books since 1951. What appears to have happened is that Raw Story, who is usually better about this kind of thing, mixed up last year's attempt to repeal the law with the actual enacting of the law. HuffPost ran with the story, which is how it caught my eye. I did my usual minor-league fact-checking and due diligence, seeing that the law, and the form, were both on official South Carolina internet sites, but nothing in the bill text or the form tipped me off to the law's age.

Turns out this law, and a bunch like it, were already ruled unconstitutional back in the day. So I was right that it was funny, right that it was creepy, right that it was unconstitutional, wrong about its provenance, wrong about its current status, and wrong in type, if not in kind, as to the motivations of its enactors. If you gabbed about yesterday's column to anyone you know, please follow up with them and set them straight. I'd hate to be part of a zombie lie or urban legend. Or at least one that isn't about my amazing sexual prowess.

For the record, I still stand 100% behind the title of the column. There is never any reason to retract a Hall and Oates joke.

The Internet keeps getting more and more granular. By which I mean that the advent of blogging, small communities, and targeted social networking means that a lot of our time on the Internet these days is spent with self-selected groups. Five or six years ago, I didn't have to seek out stupid people on the Internet – you couldn't escape them. They're a lot easier to avoid now, because you know where they congregate, and stop reading comments on YouTube videos accordingly.

Which is why even I, hardened purveyor of stupidity for time without end, was shocked, horrified, and pleased by the Great FaceBlog Clusterfuck of 2010. Basically, what happened is this. A blog that covers social networking, “ReadWriteWeb”, posted an article on Facebook's new integration with AOL Instant Messager. This article ended up near the top of Google results for the search term “Facebook login”.

And this is how a bunch of intelligent Internet users were reminded that there are a whole bunch of stupid motherfuckers on the Internet without even a barebones understanding of how it works or what they're doing. Because apparently, a LOT of people don't bother typing “facebook.com” into their address bar, or making a bookmark to facebook.com. They just Google “Facebook login” and assume that wherever they end up must be the Facebook login page.

And when they can't log into Facebook, because the site they're on, well, isn't fucking Facebook, they take advantage of the blog's open comment system to register their displeasure. I am selecting one such expression, because it covers most of the bases, and from looking at this person's conveniently-linked Facebook profile, they're a real idiot and not a meta-commenting bandwagon-jumper. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

”I TRULY DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON BUT I FEEL LIKE CURSING SOMEBODY OUT!!!!!! I CAN'T EVEN GET TO MY WALL OR ANYTHING !!!! I FEEL LIKE I'V BEEN PUNKED PUT IT BACK LIKE IT WAS!!! YA'LL ACT LIKE YOU WANT TO BE TAKEN TO COURT OR SOMETHING ,I DON'T HAVE THIS KINDA TIME TO BE FOOLING ARROUND ALL I WANT TO DO IS GAIN ACCESS TO MY FACEBOOK PAGE WHAT'S REALLY UP???????? “ - One “Darlene R. Reid”.

Well, what's really up is that you're not on Facebook. Because you don't know how to use the Internet. But at least you know you aren't alone. There are, even accounting for spoofers, mockers, and bandwagon-jumpers, hundreds of people who made the same mistake and were angry enough about it, based in part about all the furor over the “new Facebook interface”, to send their all-caps, misspelled rantings into the void in the hopes that somebody would hear them.

That's the part that gets me. I mean, yes, I'd kind of forgotten just how clueless people can be on the magic tubes, but you never really forget. Not in your bones. My brain may have briefly said “holy shit”, but then my bones reminded my brain of Usenet, and my brain thanked my bones for my insight. I can only imagine how many monkeys that monolith had to show bones to before it found the one smart enough to turn it into a spaceship.

No, it's the yelling and complaining that gets me. Because, while I've never worked tech support per se, I have definitely supported technology. And I know exactly how far that kind of attitude will get you. Sure, fine, think a random blog is Facebook's front page because you don't know how to use a web browser. Sure, fine, see a click-able “comment” link and think it's a magical line straight to the Emperor of Facebook. But all that yelling and exclamation pointing is just going to get your lame ass ignored if you did somehow manage to reach the ear of someone who could fix your problem.

And by “someone who could fix your problem”, I mean of course someone with a time machine, your childhood address, and a lead abatement kit.


In other hilarious Internet news, Roger Ebert is at war with Big Hollywood. Wait, let me rephrase that. Big Hollywood is at war with Roger Ebert, and Roger Ebert has sort of noticed a buzzing noise near his left ear. Apparently, Ebert used his Twitter account to make fun of the teabagging hordes, and Big Hollywood leapt to the defense of Real America.

Now, disputes on the Internet are notoriously difficult to score, but let me apply one simple metric. With three separate 140-character tweets, Roger Ebert has caused Big Hollywood writers to generate four entire articles, and Big Hollywood's thermometer-juice-loving commenters to leave over six hundred comments and climbing. From a pure trolling efficiency standpoint, Roger Ebert is kicking their asses six ways from Sunday. It's a beautiful thing.