If you were in Cuba this weekend, you may have been treated to the sight of happy Cubans proudly buying computers. Here in the real world, where some of us have computers in our shoes and marital aids, the purchase of a new computer might not raise any eyebrows, but in Cuba it qualifies as a very big deal indeed. You see, Cubans haven't been allowed to have personal computers until now. (One can only imagine what primitive technology they use to keep their feet warm or to pleasure their wives with.)
The one snag is that most Cubans still don't have access to the Internet yet - the government has long restricted access. Even if those restrictions were lifted somehow, there's also the small matter of the trade embargo between the US and Cuba - one of the consequences being that we don't ever ship any Internet too them (I don't really understand how the Internet works.)
What I do understand is that computers aren't much fun without the Internet. Sure you've got your word processing and your minesweeper and your disk defragmenter. I guess there's also spreadsheets, but considering that the average monthly income for a Cuban is something like $20, I don't imagine their personal finances are that complicated. Truthfully, computers can get boring pretty quickly. When was the last time you processed some words for fun?
However, given the recent reforms the Cuban government's been implementing, Internet access for Cubans is at least marginally likely in the future. Which means that Cuba might actually become reconnected to the rest of the world soon, and find out what a shit-show we've turned it into. So in preparation for that moment, I've compiled some useful info for any current or future Cuban Internet pioneers (here I'm imagining that when first getting online they'll Google "Holy shit, I'm Cuban and am on the Internet" which will lead them to this page.)
As I see it, the main problem with getting to the Internet twenty years late is that you'll be really far behind on all the Internet meme's that have come and gone, so you won't get any of the references on our T-shirts. Seeing as amusing T-shirts make up something like 5% of the U.S. GDP, this is a pretty serious problem, so to ward off any chances of the demise of our sponsors, below I've cataloged the biggest Internet fads of the last 20 years.
Mouse Balls: If you were on the Internet back in the days when ASCII graphics were cutting edge, you probably saw this fake IBM "mouse balls" memo in your email inbox. To this very day, testicle humor remains the pinnacle of human achievement on the Internet.
Hampster Dance: Audio recordings were mastered over 60 years ago by Vikings, yet to this day, very few sites on the Internet have sound or audio content of any kind. And the reason is this fucking site.
Bert is Evil: One of the first photoshopped gag sites, it taught us some interesting facts about that Sesame Street mainstay, Bert. Hint: He doesn't come off very well.
That Dancing Baby: An early example of 3D graphics, and an effective advertising spokesperson for the vasectomy industry.
Mahir: In 1999, Mahir wanted to have sex with you, and made a webpage about it. At the time this was revolutionary, and as it occurred at the height of the Internet bubble, I believe the site was eventually purchased by Yahoo for $5bn.
All your Base Are Belong To Us: In Japan they don't write English very well, mainly because no-one there reads it. This unlikely confluence of events caused one of the most irritating trends to sweep the Internet.
YTMND: This stands for "You're The Man Now Dawg," which you Cubans probably won't recognize as one of the most tin-eared pieces of dialog to ever be written, and the nadir of Sean Connery's career. This site soon spawned a host of similarly themed pages - including this face melting example.Star Wars Kid: Making fun of dorks being dorks is a little like shooting fish in a barrel. Honestly I always felt bad for this kid, and hope whichever one of his buddies put this video on the Internet lives in constant fear of being beaten to death with a golf ball retriever.
Chuck Norris Facts: This was a site full of made up facts about Chuck Norris, a martial artist who made some hilariously awful movies in the 80's and some just regular awful television in the 90's. No-one knows why he became suddenly popular again a couple years ago, as for the last 10 years he's been coasting on his past success - a notion that radically redefines the meaning of the word "success."
Snakes on a Plane: This was a poorly conceived, poorly executed movie that unexpectedly failed because it was poorly conceived and poorly executed. That it was championed by the Internet probably says something about the business and critical acumen of anonymous imbeciles.
LolCats: This is the current big Internet fad, although hopefully it will be something else by the time I finish typing this sentence.
I hope you enjoyed that, respected Cuban reader. As you're new to the Internet, I'll let you know that if you enjoy an article, it's customary to provide your bank details on this page here.